Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Grim Reaper readies his Scythe

What a weekend of football, we have had so far. France clinical in their dismissal of the Ukraine, England giving their fans a roller coaster ride of emotions in their thrilling three- two win over Sweden. (So much for my saying a nil-nil draw)
I don’t think any pundit in the world foresaw what transpired last night. That the Czechs verses Poland was winner take all, we knew in advance, but Greece beating Russia to qualify in second place is a shock of seismic proportions.

Any of Poland, Russia or Greece possibly facing the Sherman’s in the next round was enough to excite any headline writer looking to whip up the atmosphere before the game. Given last nights shocks we should not assume anything as we look forward to the deciding games in the so called group of Death, Group B.
Even the Dutch who have lost both their games still have a chance to qualify. A win by two clear goals together with a victory for Germany over Denmark would see the Dutch finish second.

Thankfully, there are no scenarios which allow two of the teams to settle for a specific result and thus eliminate the other two teams. There is the infamous example of Germany verses Austria in the 1982 world cup, where the Shermans needed to win either one or two nil , for both Germany and Austria to qualify, the Shermans duly scored after ten minutes and for the next eighty minutes, both the sides just passed the ball round making no attempt to score, thus eliminating Algeria who were the other team involved.

The Algerians called it the Anschluss, a veiled reference to the unification of Nazi Germany with Austria in 1938, in Germany it was known as the non-aggression pact of Gijon after the Spanish city where the game took place. This game instituted the situation we have now, where the last two games of the group stage kick off at the same time to avoid any attempts at collusion.

Holland, who have not looked very good defensively, face the Portuguese and it will be interesting to see how the Dutch defence copes with the pace of Ronaldo and Nani. At the other end now that Van Persie has finally scored maybe the Dutch can find the form which saw them reach the finals as top scores in the qualifying tournament. I have resigned from making predictions, this game is to open too call.

Having just written, that I have stopped making predictions, Germany will win, especially if they score first. We now know that the winners of this group will face Greece with the runners up taking on the Czech Republic. A clearer picture is beginning to emerge.

Check back in tomorrow as Group C also offers us a myriad of possibilites.

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