The groups are reaching their climax now, and so far it’s not good for the Fulham-related nations.
A Dikgacoi-less South Africa managed to secure a victory against France – the first game that the hosts have won in the World Cup Finals – but goal difference meant that Mexico took second place. Despite my prejudices, Uruguay have turned out not to be the negative team that I’ve seen in previous years and were deserved winners of group A. Mexico are exciting to watch as well, but it is a shame that the home team are out so early. France’s utter failure (not quite as bad as failing to score in 2002 when they were defending champions) has several upsides though. As well as it being fun to watch France fall to pieces, it does at least mean England’s current problems aren’t as bad. And South Africa ended up above them in the table too
The other group was much closer though. Argentina were always certs to top the table, but any of the other three teams could have made it to second place. Greece certainly have the defensive play when they get it right, but I don’t think they deserved to go through on the basis of not really attacking. I had hoped Nigeria could get through, but as much as they try to score they’ve wasted many chances on their games, and the defence has not been solid. South Korea are all over the place, but they did shade it.
So now the first two set fixtures for round 2 are known. Uruguay will play South Korea, which should go to the South Americans fairly comfortably given the way both teams play. Argentina will play Mexico, and I would think that Mexico will follow the pattern of being knocked out at that stage, but that looks like it could be one hell of a game to watch.
Tomorrow it’s a big day for four of the teams I’m following. England need to win against Slovenia to get through. The USA could scrape through with a draw, but it would depend on goal difference or goals scored, so a win is the only way to guarantee a second round place. Of course, while the USA only need to keep up their good form (and deal with the way they start a game), England need to actually put a team out.
Australia are unlikely to get much against Serbia, but a draw would be a very good result for them. Ghana only need to draw against Germany, but their opponents will be out to prove that their loss to the Serbs was only a one-off. I’d love to see John Pantsil grinning his way into round 2 though.
(oh, and the other major news of the day, the ‘Emergency’ budget? Pah! It’s almost as if the Tories want the country to go back into recession, and the Lib Dems have forgotten everything they were saying six weeks ago. Idiots)