Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Day 7

My, oh my…How the ‘mighty’ have fallen…again! Au revoir, messieurs! Muy bueno, El Tri!

This time, however, I am not one bit surprised. The writing was on the wall for Les Bleus, and my initial prediction for another “down” year for them was spot on. Uruguay and Mexico now look like the unlikely teams to progress from group A…yet, as long as there’s still a mathematical chance, the French are still in the running. They’d just have to beat South Africa by more than 3 goals and Uruguay to beat Mexico by at least 2 (or something along those lines…5 goals difference). But how many goals has France scored to date? Yes…exactly [zero]. On the other hand, both Latin American countries would qualify in the event of a tie… which is what they should do, just to knock off the French… but the second-placed team will face off Argentina in the next round… so I’m pretty sure Mexico will push for a win [Uruguay will be first, in case of a tie, if you’re wondering].

But back to the French. They’ve been nothing short of pathetic so far and do not deserve to make it through. I really hope South Africa beats them in the ‘consolation’ game.

In the earlier games, Argentina took a commanding lead of group B with an opportunistic Higuain recording the first hat-trick of the tournament. Too bad Messi did not get one if his own (he sure came close once or twice). We’ll just have to see how well the defense performs against serious competition in the next round, but the attacking third is just outstanding so far!

In the other game of the morning, Nigeria have no one but themselves [especially Sani Kaita, eliminated in the 33rd minute] to blame for the loss. Up one nothing (granted, on a free kick that was let in fairly easily by the Greek defense), they managed to play almost one hour with 10 men [discipline is typically not a strong suit among African teams]. Greece found it easier to come back, and although Vincent Enyeama was excellent in goal gain for Nigeria [he is partially to blame for the second goal, a ball he could not hold on to after an initial Tziolis shot], the final result was justified. More so since Obasi missed a chance to put Nigeria ahead from 6 yards in front of an empty goal [you can’t do that and still expect to be considered good enough to stay in the competition].

Nigeria is not officially out [can still qualify if they beat S. Korea by two goals and Argentina beats Greece by 2] but it’s South Korea and Greece disputing the second spot. They are both on 3 points, same goal difference, yet South Korea has the edge on goals scored. With Greece having to play Argentina, however, their future does not look too good…But as long as there are chances on paper, none of them will give up the fight…

Overall though, the competition is opening up. England should beat Algeria easily tomorrow, but Germany – Serbia and Slovenia – USA [potential decider for the second spot in the group] should be entertaining.

Disclaimer: travel day for me, so I only saw the first half of the Argentina game ‘live’. Then caught highlights of the other games in the MSP airport (and of course, read all I could do about the games on line in the plane, thanks to Gogo Inflight)

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