Friday, 25 June 2010

!st round last day and a look forward to 2nd round

Hi and welcome back. Today should provide very entertaining as we come to the close of the group stages. First up is Brazil, who has begun to look ominously good, versus their old colonial masters from Portugal. The Portuguese scored 7 in their last game, but admittedly that was against N Korea. A number of the Portuguese squad are actually Brazilian born and Portugal are often considered the Brazil of Europe. The result of this game is largely academic as it will only determine who the teams will face in the next round. The runner up, which will probably be Portugal, is slated to face the winner of Spain’s group, which was supposed to be Spain and still could be, but more of that later.
In the second game in this group (kick off 17.00) N Korea are up against the Ivory Coast. As the N Koreans lost their last game 7-0, they will need to put in a good performance to try and avoid a course of re-education when they get home. Ivory Coast is also playing for their pride, and they even have a remote chance of qualifying. They need to score at least 7 and hope that Portugal loses by 2 goals. An unlikely scenario but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.

In the later games tonight. Spain is the latest European team to be in a very tight spot. They basically have to win to go through and they are up against tough opponents in Chile, who have looked very good and who also know that if they lose to Spain they may not go through despite wining their first 2 games. A draw may suffice for Spain in the unlikely event that Switzerland doesn’t beat Honduras, but Honduras has been one of the poorest teams of the tournament so far and the Swiss know that a victory for them would most likely see them through. It will be interesting to see, if the Swiss know how to attack, to date they have basically only played defense. As mentioned above, positioning is important here, as the runner’s up in this group will likely have to face Brazil, a daunting prospect.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Knock out stages of the tournament. If the sides are level after 90 minutes, then they play an extra 30 minutes of extra time. There is no golden goal, the full 30 minutes are played even if one side scores. If the deadlock has not been broken after 120 minutes, we go to one of the cruelest forms of torture known to mankind, the Penalty Shootout. Each team has to choose 5 players who will take the spot kicks as they are known. This is not recommended viewing for anyone with a heart condition. If the teams are still level after 5 penalties, it becomes a sudden death affair.
Some teams are good at penalties other are awful. Let’s see if you can guess who is good and who is bad. Ok, that’s enough time. The Sherman’s are excellent and the English and Italians are awful (they lost the final in 1994 when Baggio blasted over the bar). You can be almost certain that if it goes to Penalties, England will lose and grown men will cry. Luckily for the Italians, they are already on their way home.

The next round opens with 2 intriguing games for out entertainment. Uruguay v S Korea (17.00) in the early game and Ghana v USA in the late game (21.30). The Uruguayans have looked very good and should be too strong for the S Koreans, who will be happy that they have got this far.
The 2nd game is much harder to call. Both sides have done well to make it through. The USA feels that there is a conspiracy against them as they have suffered some rather dodgy refereeing decisions. There is no doubt that they are emotionally fired up and are on a roll. However Ghana is the best team they have faced to date (England will improve but were awful when they played the USA) and I predict this to be a very tight but good game.
On Sunday we shall have a quick review of the 1st round highlights and low points and look forward to the renewing of hostilities between England and Deutschland


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