I hate Group F. I really do. Good thing Group E plays today too or I might have my first soccer-less day in a while.
10:00 AM- Paraguay vs New Zealand
This figures to be another somewhat boring game, though Paraguay showed goal-scoring potential in their pivotal game against Slovakia in which they took command of this group. South America will keep rolling if Barrios gets support and they do not let New Zealand muscle them around too much. I think Paraguay wins the game and wins the group so they can avoid facing the Netherlands in the first round of the knockout stages. I have been rolling with my South Americans since Day 1 and I am sticking to it. Paraguay wins the group.
Paraguay 2-0 New Zealand
10:00 AM- Italy vs. Slovakia
I am not sure what to think of Italy having a shot at missing the second round. On the one hand it really turns me on because it means Italy’s unattractive football is out of the next round, but on the other hand, it is Italy. And no, I don’t regret using the phrase “turn-on”. How could they not move on??? It would be unthinkable. Slovakia has also disappointed at every turn this tournament, but I have no reason to believe they will step up, score a goal, and keep a clean sheet. Not happening. Italy advances and prepares to potentially lose to whomever wins Group F (Netherlands).
Italy 2-0 Slovakia
2:30 PM- Netherlands vs. Cameroon
Speaking of the Netherlands… This is their game to lose. Fortunately for them, they can afford to lose it and still advance. However, they are not losing this game. Even if they rest guys, they are more disciplined and talented than a Cameroon squad that has really fallen a bit flat. I fully expect the Duth to kick Cameroon out of the tournament with their wooden shoes. I know Cameroon is already out, but I needed an excuse to make a joke about wooden shoes, so cut me some slack. If not for the high talent level, this would be a bad game to watch. Neither team has anything to play for as far as results, and the more talented team will not be breaking their necks to do anything. However, the skill level makes up for a lot and this should be a fairly entertaining match. Netherlands win in uninspiring fashion.
Netherlands 1-0 Cameroon
2:30 PM- Denmark vs. Japan
This is a game to watch. If Denmark plays anything like they did against Cameroon (wide, wide open), we are in for another treat. That was some of attacking football at its best, and if the Danes are in the mood for it, they could give us a very good match. However, entertaining does not guarantee them any kind of result, and Japan will surely be looking to counter-punch if Denmark goes for the goals with gusto.
I am somewhat torn on the pick, though. So far, England, Germany, Netherlands, and Italy (maybe) are the only European teams remaining. That is pretty slim pickings, and all of those are traditional superpowers. Is Denmark good enough to really match up with that kind of name brand power? Not really, but they definitely have a shot. If they were even on Goal Differential with Japan (instead of trailing by 1), I would pick Denmark to advance because they would only need the tie. However, they need to win, and by the same token, Japan needs only to draw Denmark to advance. I think Denmark is the better team, but Japan can scrape a draw out of this game. It will help them tremendously if they can get the first goal because suddenly Denmark will be facing a 2 goal hole and it will prove a hole they cannot climb out of. It will not help that Kjaer will miss the game.
I think Japan gets an early one and hangs on for what could be one of the more tense games of the tournament so far (not including US drama).
Denmark 1-1 Japan and Japan advances to play Paraguay.