Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still All Soccer All the Time

It is - the world cup is still taking up pretty much all my discretionary time. It's been well worth it. Things have shaken out a bit, though not always the way you'd think - some groups have gone to form, some are exceedingly mysterious... It has been enjoyable, and could get very entertaining in the next couple days.

Lovely to see France implode. They cheated to get in, they came apart at the seams - it's been a delightful spectacle. Nice to see South Africa salvage a win, even if it was too late... Uruguay and Mexico definitely deserved to go through from this group. Rather massive disparity in what they get next though - Argentina being Argentina with a vengeance, South Korea - a nice, energetic side, but not world beaters. It's been a South American cup so far - and it occurs to me that it would not take much - an upset or two, and not necessarily big upsets, to create an all South American semifinals. Uruguay looks more than able to handle any of the teams it might get in the second round (winner of C or second in D, I think). Brazil and Argentina have been the best of the tournament (though Brazil still seems to be coasting) - Brazil might run into some nasty teams in their side of the draw, though. Argentina looks like it has an easier road (unless Germany comes back strong.) Leaving, really, one upset required - which could come in the last group game - Chile wins their group with a point or more, and that eases their path significantly. Though Paraguay has also looked very good, and could get through. Very interesting.

Anyway - tomorrow's games are the big ones for us Americans. We should be able to win. I dearly hope Slovenia knocks England out (a draw does it, if the US cooperates - though if the US loses, Algeria might beat out England, almost as entertaining, if less enjoyable...) That would put 2 of the bit European powers out. And Italy, Spain and Germany are vulnerable as well. They all should manage to get through - but it's dicey. Spain has to deal with a very good looking Chile, while Switzerland plays Honduras - not a done deal. Germany's group is confusing, since both Serbia and Australia look capable of winning or losing the game (regardless of the other team's performance), and Ghana has been the most effective African team. A draw, and the wrong combination of events in the other game, and Germany could be out. And Italy? gave up early goals in both games, and got them back on a goalie mistake and a very weak penalty call - if the other team and the ref don't give them anything they might not score - and if New Zealand eke out another point - oh, what joy!

All right: predictions, because I can and have to post something here:
US beats Algeria (3-1, say)
England and Slovenia tie - US wins the group...

d - Serbia and Australia tie; I think Germany beats Ghana, but Ghana gets through on goals.

E is easy - Netherlands have already won, basically; Japan I think just needs to tie, and I think they manage it.

F - Paraguay wins; Italy ties and advances, much as it disappoints me

G - Brazil wins, Portugal rides those 7 goals to the second round, where they won't score any more

H - I think Honduras steals a tie from Switzerland - I think Spain wins the other game, but it could be a tie - Chile has been very good. It could be w wild one, though - Spain has to win, and Chile has enough offense to make them pay for trying. Interesting.

After which - Uruguay beats SK, Argentina beats Mexico. The US beats Ghana, Germany beats Slovenia. I think I have Holland playing Italy - god, I hope they win if that game comes off, but the Dutch are bound to choke... Paraguay beats Japan easily. And -Brazil and not-Portugal (Spain, I suppose) win.

Then? Uruguay beats the US; Argentina beats Germany. (Even if I get the orders wrong, I think these teams are getting through those games.) Brazil beats the Holland Italy winner. Leaving Paraguay the team that has to pull an upset to get to the finals. Though to be honest, I think if Spain makes the second round, and can beat Portugal (assuming that's who they get), they will probably have their form. If they don't, well - Chile or Paraguay will have this spot. Which I think would be a pure delight. The South American teams have been winning so far, and have been a pleasure to watch doing it. (Other than maybe Uruguay, when they go fully defensive.)

I think a Brazil Argentina final is in the works. The way it looks right now - that's Argentina's game. Though if Brazil gets their act together - they should win it all, as usual.

We'll see how this turns out.

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