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Spotlight on the US and Ronaldo at World Cup

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm •  Published: June 21, 2014
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — There may be three games at the World Cup on Sunday, but only one will attract a truly global audience — the United States' match against Portugal in Manaus.

And it's a game with no shortage of contrasts.

The U.S. has no iconic figure in its team, but is coming off a morale-boosting win over a familiar World Cup foe, Ghana. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo and the hangover of an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Germany.

Those previous results mean there is plenty at stake in Group G for both sides.

Sunday is also Day 2 for Group H, where Belgium takes on Russia at Rio's Maracana stadium and South Korea meets Algeria.

Things to watch for Sunday:

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EYES ON RONALDO

The United States will advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup if it can beat Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the heart of the Amazonian rain forest.

Which Ronaldo will show up? The one who looked lost and timid against Germany, or the one who ripped defenses to shreds for Real Madrid last season, scoring 31 league goals, winning the Champions League and being voted world player of the year.

The U.S. will be hoping it's the former.

Ronaldo has been troubled by knee and thigh injuries since before the tournament, but no player in the U.S. team can afford to take their eyes off Portugal's poster boy.

The good news for the Americans is that Germany's 2-2 draw with Ghana on Saturday means a victory in Manaus would guarantee them a spot in the second round.

Venue: Manaus. Kickoff 1 p.m. local time (1 p.m. in New York, 6 p.m. in London, 2 a.m. in Tokyo).

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HAZARD WARNING

Eden Hazard, a creative attacking midfielder who is coming off a superb season in the English Premier League with Chelsea, will be Belgium's main threat against Russia.

There weren't many of his trademark teasing runs though the defense in his team's opening 2-1 win over Algeria. But he has a chance to be a standout player at the World Cup, and a victory on Sunday will put his side into the second round.

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