Today marks the last day of Group A and Group B play, so to make sure no one has an advantage, all the games will be played at the same time. This is true throughout the final games, but I thought it was worth mentioning for the casual fan.
10:00 AM- Mexico vs. Uruguay
Both these teams sit on top of the group and will need some bad luck to not advance. Both teams have impressed me so far, though for different reasons. I have been impressed with how the young talent of Mexico has responded to the pressure, especially Javier Hernandez, a man I tipped for success in my pre-World Cup article. Uruguay has been impressive for Diego Forlan and the toughness of the team in defending more talented opponents. I also have been rolling with the South American teams, so I have been glad to watch these teams play so well.
A draw would really be best for both teams, as it would guarantee their advance to the knockout stages, but, like Chile vs. Switzerland, that does not guarantee that result. Mexico seems the more likely team to score, but Diego Forlan is good for at least one goal against a Mexican back-line that has not impressed thus far. I think there are goals to be had in this game, and that Mexico is more talented, so Urugay closes up a little and gets their draw to advance and claim the top spot in the group.
Mexico 1-1 Uruguay
10:00 AM- France vs. South Africa
France is more talented, but have about as much heart as the Tin Man and as calm as Ron Artest after the Lakers won. That might be a little harsh. Not too harsh on France; too harsh on the tin man and Ron-Ron. France is really just a mess in every sense of the word. There are two things that could happen. The first is that all these issues somehow get the French team to play harder and get some fire in their bellies and beat a team they should beat. The second is that they roll over and play horribly. I think it is somewhere in between, but somewhat closer to the second one. Not to mention, if Raymond Domenech was to somehow not manage to win this game, he might be taking a swim in the Seine or worse. Who knows, maybe Nicolas Anelka will be joining him.
South Africa has actually shown pretty well in this World Cup. The 3-0 defeat looked bad, but it was really 1-0 with an iffy penalty and a late goal that was more the result of needing to commit everyone to attack than everyone else. I expect them to come out and fight, but they will be without their excellent young keeper Khune, and will be facing a team with far-superior talent. A big part of me wants to pick a draw here, but after so horribly predicting North Korea’s tactics and it leading to a 7-0 drubbing (I picked a 1-1 draw), I feel inclined to lean toward the talent. I think France should win by a lot, but they will make it close. I will pick a 2-1 French win, but a draw or loss for France would not surprise me at all.
France 2-1 South Africa
2:30 PM- Nigeria vs. South Korea
This could have been a great game. If Nigeria’s Sani Kaita does not lose his cool and get sent off, I think Nigeria beats Greece and is sitting on 3 points, even with South Korea. However, as it is, South Korea needs a point if Greece loses, and a win if Greece is to draw based on GD. However, Nigeria looked fantastic up until that red card against Greece, and have some national pride on the line after a couple of losses. You can be sure Nigeria will be holding nothing back, so South Korea is really going to have to earn their point. I am not sure which side I would take if it was purely national pride vs. knockout stages, but since we have some game-changing players to make a difference. To me, it comes down to Lee Chung Yong and Jisung Park vs. Kalu Uche and keeper Vincent Enyeama. Whichever combo plays better will come out with the result they want. Enyeama has been outstanding so far in this tournament and it is more than possible South Korea will find itself unable to get one past him. If Kalu Uche or Yakubu (in my opinion, more likely Uche) can get Nigeria a goal, it might be enough with Enyeama’s phenomenal play of late. On the other side, it will be Lee Chung Yong and Jisung Park to get one past the red-hot Enyeama, and they are both quality Premier League players who are more than capable of netting a winner. If they draw even, it is down to whomever can be the wild card will bring their nation an important result.
My pick is far from sure on this one, but I am going to go with knockout advancement over national pride.
Nigeria 1-2 South Korea
2:30 PM- Greece vs. Argentina
This game is Argentina’s to lose, but given their defensive lapses, they are certainly capable of losing it, though even a loss could leave them in the top spot in the group. However, Greece is up against it. Even Argentina’s backup forwards are incredibly talented, so Argentina’s firepower will not be held back. Diego Milito netted a brace in teh Champions League Final and is coming off a great season with Champions Inter Milan, and he has still not seen the field for Argentina. They are ridiculously stacked at striker, so Greece will be cut no slack there.
Rather than trying to spell any Greek players’ name, I will opt for the team approach in talking about them. They did a much better job against Nigeria, but only after Kaita got sent off. The challenge for Greece will be if tehy can pretend Argentina has 10 men so they can get teh courage to send men up the field and get the goal they will desperately need. I think there is no way Argentina is held scoreless, so they will need at least one if they want to advance. I do not konw who Argentina is planning on resting, but I think Greece comes up short against Argentina’s wildly talented 2nd squad. As always, Diego Maradona will be a human pyrotechnic act on the sidelines as Argentina cruises to a win.
Greece 1-2 Argentina