Late Run to the WC.

21 06 2010
Green  Soccer Theme Toilet Seat
Yeah I’ll keep up this bit.  We’ll go over the first half of the second round of games.
Group A was turned on its side by a stand-out performance from Diego Forlan.  For this section of “Late Run to the WC” we’re going to ditch the game by game breakdown and instead talk about the shape of each group.  At the end of each group’s section I’ll give my picks to move on (Winners in Red and runners-up in Green)
Group A
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
UruguayUruguay 2 1 1 0 3 0 4
MexicoMexico 2 1 1 0 3 1 4
FranceFrance 2 0 1 1 0 2 1
South AfricaSouth Africa 2 0 1 1 1 4 1
The talk of this intriguing group has been the sad state of French Soccer.  A player dismissed (starter Nicholas Anelka), a coach left and team refusing to practice.  There is still a possibility that France or South Africa moves on, but both teams need a specific result.  The hosts will move on with a win and Mexico victory over Uruguay (and they need help with goal differential on top of that).  The French need Mexico to beat Uruguay and win (and they also will need goal differential help on top of all that).   Diego Forlan’s brace really put the hosts in the worst position with – 3 goal differential.  Then again the hosts do get to play the most wheels off team in the whole tournament.  And with Uruguay and Mexico battling for the coveted top seed things can get interesting.  The real issue is that second place will get to play mighty Argentina instead of a much weaker B opponent if you finish first in the group stage.  Both Mexico and Uruguay found there goal-scoring touch in the last game.  I like the Mexican formation to hold up and them to capture the group.  This will disappoint the host team as I truly see them beating the French.  The South Americans are easily slotted to move on.
Group B
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
ArgentinaArgentina 2 2 0 0 5 1 6
Korea RepublicKorea Republic 2 1 0 1 3 4 3
GreeceGreece 2 1 0 1 2 3 3
NigeriaNigeria 2 0 0 2 1 3 0
The winter weather has been seen in different ways – Joburg has freezing ice, Rain in Cape Town and sunshine in Durban.  Group B has also looked to the Skies as Argentina have booked there spot in the next round (all that is left is to win the group out right).  The Greeks will hope for points against the South Americans and Nigeria doing well against South Korea.  The Africans are the team needing a huge win and a big loss by the Greeks.  South Korea does hold the tie-breaker over the Greeks (head-to-head) and Nigeria would need to gain ground back with goal differential.  I can’t see Maradona sitting his stars and so I think the Greeks are in a world of hurt.  With that said an early lead could force Maradona to use subs on his stars like Higuan and Messi and so there isn’t going to be a huge defeat.  I also don’t see the Nigerian’s blowing out the South Koreans.
South Korea
Group C
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
SloveniaSlovenia 2 1 1 0 3 2 4
USAUSA 2 0 2 0 3 3 2
EnglandEngland 2 0 2 0 1 1 2
AlgeriaAlgeria 2 0 1 1 0 1 1
The most hated Ref in the USA is Malian Koman Coulibaly who’s “phantom” foul on Maurice Edu cost the USA two vital points.  The talk of the tourney for us – US fans (granted the fact that that coming down from 2-0 was pretty amazing 3-2 victory would have been GROUNDBREAKING).  Instead Group C is a wide open group.  The Slovenians have a two point lead over the English and Americans.  USA has the advantage of playing Algeria and could boost there goal-differential, but don’t count Algeria out who could move on with a victory and England loss.  Imagine England and USA knocked out – IT COULD HAPPEN FOLKS!!  I tend to lean on it not happening, but this one is wide open.  The English have looked the worst with a poor performance against Algeria.  I still like the USA to win and the English to battle out a hard fought victory over Slovenia.  The narrow victories by both powerhouses should be there wake-up call for the tournament.  Wayne Rooney is the player to keep an eye on during the Slovenia game – if he doesn’t show up then all hell will break loose.  Slovenia has looked the best on the pitch and there is no reason to be shocked if they do move on.
Group D
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
GhanaGhana 2 1 1 0 2 1 4
GermanyGermany 2 1 0 1 4 1 3
SerbiaSerbia 2 1 0 1 1 1 3
AustraliaAustralia 2 0 1 1 1 5 1
Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan has netted both of his countries goals (both penalty kicks) and the Black Stars are the only African team to have looked good during the WC.  Serbia’s shocking defeat of Germany has given this group a wonderful closing round of games.  The Germans and Ghana will be battling for top spot, but both have to fear the Serbians facing a depleted Australian side (Yellow and Red cards have killed the Socceroos).  Speaking of the Aussie’s – they are still alive.  Imagine the wild scenario of the Aussie’s making it!!  They need a win over Serbia and Ghana to win over the Germans.  I like the Germans to rebound against Ghana and take home full points.  Serbia would not pull for this outcome because there opening round loss to Ghana would keep them out of the Round of 16 unless they took home all three points for a win.  Whew this one is going to be a crazy group to see unfold.  All the teams are alive and well after two matches (though the Aussies should still be pissed with the horrible Reffing they’ve seen).
Group E
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
NetherlandsNetherlands 2 2 0 0 3 0 6
JapanJapan 2 1 0 1 1 1 3
DenmarkDenmark 2 1 0 1 2 3 3
CameroonCameroon 2 0 0 2 1 3 0
The Dutch have looked good even though they haven’t seemed to showcase 75% of there talents.  Also they’ve been with our Arjen Robben (who looks ready to go for Round of 16).  The big story of the tournament is who were the first team out of the tournament?  Cameroon – the Indomitable Lions have been dominated and are the first team that can’t move on no matter what happens in the final match.    With the Dutch incapable of losing first place – there match-up against Cameroon is the most meaningless game remaining (in all groups).  Don’t be shocked to see a whole new line-up for the Dutch as they try and stay healthy for the next round.  The real meat and potatoes game involves the surprise Japanese and the stout Danish.  Denmark are down a goal in goal-differential so a draw will do them NO help.  The game should be a hard fought and rough match-up with both teams sticking well to there defense formations.  I see the Danish having more options to score, especially with Bendtner finding his goal-scoring touch.  The tight unit that is Japan will have to deal with the bigger Danish pushing the tempo.  Should be a hell of a match-up.
Group F
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
ParaguayParaguay 2 1 1 0 3 1 4
ItalyItaly 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
New ZealandNew Zealand 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
SlovakiaSlovakia 2 0 1 1 1 3 1
The Kiwis have been one of the shocking teams of the tournament as they’ve tied Italy and Slovakia.  Both those ties have made Group F an intriguing group.  Paraguay have the lead with 4 points and will duke it out with those pesky Kiwis.  The Italians and Slovakians game is going to be a barn-burner.  All four teams are alive and wins will see them possibly through.  The draws for the Kiwis make things interesting because they don’t really care the outcome of Italy-Slovakia – they just know a win and they are looking good for the SHOCK of the Tournament.   Give me Italy over Slovakia and Paraguay and Kiwis draw – squeaking the two favorites through to the next round.
Group G
Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
BrazilBrazil 2 2 0 0 5 2 6
PortugalPortugal 2 1 1 0 7 0 4
Côte d'IvoireCôte d’Ivoire 2 0 1 1 1 3 1
Korea DPRKorea DPR 2 0 0 2 1 9 0
Which group has two of the highest scoring teams in it – how about the one with two Portuguese speaking countries?  Brazil is tied with Argentina in second place with 5 goals each.  The Portuguese are the top scoring team as they netted 7 goals against North Korea (6 goals in the second half).  The high scoring league does have an interesting final week.  Both games are in play.  Brazil and Portugal are fighting to win the Group G outright.  Ivory Coast need Portugal to lose (and get scored on heavily) so that a high goal-scoring victory over North Korea.  Drogba and company we’ll need a lot of help, but at least they are still alive (unlike Cameroon).  Sadly its such a huge margin after the Portuguese performance was so incredible.   Even CR had all the luck going his way (don’t worry you can all google or youtube it later).  The Portuguese sure do look unbeatable after figuring it all out in the rains of Cape Town.



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