Today is the final day of the group stages, and should be filled with quality.
10:00 AM- North Korea vs. Ivory Coast
So last time North Korea played, I picked them to draw with Portugal, and they lose 7-0. This deserves some explaining on my part. I was under the impression that North Korea would defend in depth and in numbers and try to do the same thing to Portugal they almost did to Brazil. They, instead, got overly ambitious and tried to attack the Portuguese, who in turn shredded the previously solid North Korean defense. Call me crazy, but I think Kim Jong-Il called up the coach and told them to attack. I know that sounds insane, but first off, Kim Jong-Il kinda qualifies as insane, and two, I do not think the leader of a rebellious and outspoken country would like for his country to be portrayed as a passive force. I do not think the North Korean coach could have possibly thought that defending Portugal would be so easy that he did not have to approach it like he approached Brazil. I am convinced he was ordered to attack more and try to show off the aggression and ability of the side instead of getting a result. That, or the coach is a complete moron. Either way.
I doubt North Korea goes back to defense-first at this point. If their leader called up and told them what to do, then we will definitely see the attacking North Korea again and we will see Les Elephates tusk the North Koreans into oblivion Ivory Coast also needs to score in bunches and get lucky to make up their Grand Canyon-esque 9 goal gap with Portugal. I don’t think that can happen, but I do think that the Ivory Coast will put a beating on North Korea, with or without the still-injured Drogba.
Ivory Coast 3-0 North Korea
10:00 AM- Brazil vs. Portugal
Brazil already has the group wrapped up and is likely to run some new guys out on the field. Portugal is just trying not to get blown out to let the Ivory Coast back into the picture. Normally, this would result in a low-scoring, low-excitement affair, but even Brazil’s backups are playmaking fiends. Portugal will still be much more concerned with defending than attacking, and despite their outburst against North Korea, Portugal has had a woeful scoring record lately. Their outburst could open up Pandora’s Box of Goals, but it could also have meant nothing but a poor North Korean side giving up a bunch and Portugal will revert back to its old scoring ways. I do not really know which of these scenarios will play out, and I do not know who Dunga will rest for Brazil, so it is kind of tough to make a prediction.
We will go with the fairly safe Brazilian win even though they will not necessarily be breaking their necks to do so.
Brazil 2-1 Portugal
2:30 PM- Chile vs. Spain
Bottom line. Spain needs this, and Chile does not. We will be seeing the first South American loss of the tournament here, but not without a fight from Chile. They are an exciting team to watch, and they will be doing the same thing to Spain so they can make sure they get through to Spain. I would not be at all surprised to see Chile get a goal, but Spain will get more.
I am actually really looking forward to this match from a Chilean perspective. You know how you do not want to pick a team to go deep in a bracket until you have seen them in adversity? Like not wanting to pick someone for the NCAA Tournament if you haven’t seen them play close games? The same goes for Chile with me. I like them a lot, but I need to see how they react when they take one in the jaw to really believe in them. A draw would do wonders for Chile, since it would send Spain to the Brazilian side of the bracket, but I just don’t think it will happen. Spain has too much talent, and we already saw how they responded when punched in the mouth when they dominated Honduras, a team they should dominate anyway. I like this match to show Spain the top spot in the group, and to show that Chile has a lot of fight left in them.
Spain 2-Chile 1
2:30 PM- Honduras vs. Switzerland
Switzerland needs this game to have a shot at catching Chile, and Honduras is out. However, Switzerland is not known for their scoring, so they will need some help from Honduras to hand a crooked number on the scoreboard. Luckily, Honduras might do just that. Honduras likes to attack, which will give the Swiss some great chances on the counter. Despite Chile’s strong performance against them, it seems pretty clear to me that Honduras is not scoring against the Swiss D. They are too solid for Honduras to crack, so if the Swiss are to pass Chile, they are going to need some help from Spain, and at least one goal of their own. I think they can get one, but even then they are losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Chile.
The bottom line is that the Swiss need some help to advance. I still think Chile is 2nd best in this group, but it is entirely possible that the Swiss find themselves in the next round. I am frankly clueless, so let’s pick the Swiss win, but without advancing, which is very unlucky since they will be sitting on 6 points.
Switzerland 1-0 Honduras