June 22, 2010

Spain 2, Honduras 0: Another one-sided affair, although the world's number one-ranked team failed to convert their dominance into something as gaudy as goalscoring. David Villa scored once in each half, then missed a penalty kick that would have given him a hat trick. All in all, a bad day on the pitch for dictatorships….

Half the games of have been played, and we're now at the stage where every game means something. The third set of games commences tomorrow, and here's what's in store:

Group A: Uruguay and Mexico play for the group title, with the winner avoiding Argentina in thesecond round (Uruguay would get the nod in the event of a draw, due to goal differential). The loser is also likely to advance, but it might sweat a little hoping the other game is close. France and South Africa will be eliminated if they draw, or if the winner fails to overcome the 4-6 goal differential with the loser in the other game. If the hosts are eliminated, it would be the first time the home country has not advance out of its group. If the French fail to advance, it would not be the first time a collection of assholes similarly fails.

Group B: Argentina has got this one in the bag, even if it loses to Greece. South Korea and Nigeria play for what will likely be the second spot, unless Greece shocks the world and avoids defeat against Argentina. It's hard to believe Nigeria can stink up the field in its first two games and still finagle a spot by winning tomorrow.
GROUP C: All four teams pretty much have their fate in their feet. Only Algeria needs some help; it must beat the USA, and hope either that Slovenia doesn't lose, or that it wins by two or more goals. Everyone else just needs a win; Slovenia will also advance with a tie. Something for Americans to dwell on: Team USA has played at least three games in six previous World Cups, and has lost all six times in its third game.
GROUP D: Amazingly, Germany could be going home early, should it lose to Ghana and Serbia beats or ties the Socceroos. Serbia needs a win, or a high-scoring draw combined with a loss by the Black Stars. The Aussies could actually advance, but it would require them to rout Serbia and the Germans to beat Ghana.
GROUP E: Holland has already advanced, and will win the group barring a collapse in its final group match against Cameroon, one of two teams already assured of elimination. Denmark needs to beat the Japanese to advance, otherwise they can watch Japan play in the second round next week.
GROUP F: There are multiple scenarios here, but the most interesting one by far is that New Zealand will advance if they beat Paraguay. WTF ?!? Like Group C, all four teams control their own destiny, with Slovakia in the role of Algeria in clinching a spot with a 2+ margin of victory.
GROUP G: Brazil has qualified for the second round, and will win the group title if it wins or ties its former colonial master, Portugal. Ivory Coast can qualify for the second round, if Portugal loses and it can edge already-bounced North Korea by a score of 8-0.
GROUP H: Chile will probably be the first team since the Algerians in 1982 to win two group games and not advance, since it plays Spain next, while the team they beat today, plays hapless Honduras. 1-0 results in favor of the Swiss and the Spanish will give the Spanish the group, while Chile and Switzerland draw lots to determine the runner-up (actually, it's more likely an NBA draft lottery, but you get the picture). And again, Honduras, with two losses, can advance with a two-goal win and a loss by Spain.

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