YOOOAdrian’s 2010 World Cup Recap- 6/22 Day 12

  • Before I get to the games played today, I wanted to talk about how awesome the last set of group games are.  It feels like the last day of a regular season.  Just like the last leg of a regular season, teams try to qualify for the postseason.  Knockout play is basically the postseason of the World Cup; single elimination games.  Win or go home.
  • During play, there is frantic, constant, scoreboard watching.  You turn into a rubbernecking driver, glancing at the other scores just like you want to see the accident on the other intersection.  You become a fan of another team for a day.  Ok, do we have to win?  How many more goals do we have to score?  Should we defend?  There is so much strategy that goes on.  It’s like halftime adjustments football coaches make during halftime.  Great stuff.
  • The excitement of this year’s World Cup is the parity.  There’s not too many teams that stand out to me.  A lot of these groups are still wide open.  Look at Group B.  Shit, Nigeria had a chance to make the knockout round with a win today.  They headed into today with 0 points, unbelievable!

GROUP A

FRANCE VS SOUTH AFRICA (Sa- 2-1) 

  • England had their spin-off of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  Now, France is having their spin-off of Desperate Housewives. The only thing missing in this saga is Nicolas Anelka doing sit-ups in his driveway and answering questions from the media. (I will never forgive you TO for what you did to my beloved Eagles)
  • Before group play started, I felt this team could easily get unglued, but I thought their talent would overcome the drama.  The childish actions of this squad has left the country in disgrace.  I find it funny that Patrice Evra has to act like the mother.  Um, coach, we don’t feel like practicing today because you got mad at Anelka.
  • I noticed 6 changes in the starting 11 for France.  Most of their veterans sat on the pine.  It was a way for France to showcase some of their younger talent.  In other words, guys who actually wanted to be on the field.
  • To find some good in this situation, South Africa was hungry and ready to pounce on its prey.  While the Days of Our Lives soap opera went on for France, South Africa thought, hey, we may still have a shot at this thing.  They needed to overcome a -5 goal differential with Mexico, or a -6 goal differential with Uruguay.  They also needed one of the two to win, with a draw they would’ve been screwed.
  • Down 1-0, Yoann Gourcuff of France got sent off with a red card for elbowing a South African player.  For 65 minutes, South Africa had a shot to overcome the goal differential. 
  • At half, it was 2-0, and realistically things got a little dicey for Mexico.  In their game to Uruguay, Mexico found themselves down 1-0 at the break.  The goal difference got whittled down to just 2.  You have to credit France though in the 2nd half, especially Hugo Lloris, who showed pride.  Once Malouda scored in the 70th minute, the hopes of advancement for South Africa dimmed.
  • Finally, Steven Pienaar had a good game for South Africa.  It came a little late though.  Tshabalala had another solid outing.  He made a name for himself in this World Cup.
  • So, for the first time ever, a host nation will not be in the round of 16.  I do pose some questions now.  With South Africa eliminated, and the African nations doing so poorly, will the South African fans keep showing up for knockout play?  I’ve seen some pretty abysmal crowds for some of these group games so far.  Hopefully, it won’t take away from the play on the pitch.
  • Quick Facts- With the win for Africa, the continent improved to 2-7-4.
  • Men of the Match
  • South Africa- Siphiwe Tshabalala
  • France- Hugo Lloris
  • GAME RATING- 2*

    South Africa’s Katlego Mphela, right, gave his team a 2-0 lead in the first half against France.

(Mphela scores for South Africa)

URUGUAY VS MEXICO (Uru- 1-0)

  • This was the, we have to win this game so we don’t get pummelled by Argentina game.  Both teams have a little history with Argentina.  Argentina in the last World Cup, dispatched Mexico in the Round of 16 2-1 in extra time.  It was one of the better matches of the tournament.
  • As the game went along, you could tell Mexico did some scoreboard watching.  In the 1st half, Mexico surged forward trying to create chances.  They were the ones controlling the tempo.  At halftime, they realized their goal differential lead dwindled.  They clamped down on defense in the 2nd half.  They still tried to create, but it was assuredly a more defensive approach then the 1st 45 minutes.
  • How is Uruguay only 16th in the world?!  This team is so vastly underrated defensively.  Everyone focuses on Forlan and Suarez.  Uruguay has yet to allow a goal in the World Cup.
  • When you really look at Uruguay’s tactics on offense, they basically run it through only 3 players.  They are the aforementioned, Forlan and Suarez, along with Edinson Cavani.  Cavani had a nifty little cross to set-up the lone goal today.  Suarez finished with a neat little header of his own.
  • I know Cuauhtemoc Blanco is a legend, but he should not be starting for Mexico.  At his age and weight, he could only go 30 minutes at the most anymore.
  • Quick Facts- Mexico advances to it’s 5th straight round of 16.  Uruguay wins their group for the 1st time since 1990.
  • Men of the Match
  • Uruguay- Luis Suarez
  • Mexico– Andres Guardado
  • GAME RATING- 2*

Uruguay's Diego Forlan applauds after the World Cup group A soccer match between Mexico and Uruguay at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.  Uruguay won1-0. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)(Diego Forlan)

FINAL GROUP A STANDINGS

  1. Uruguay (7 pts)
  2. Mexico (4 pts)
  3. South Africa (4 pts)
  4. France (1 pt)

GROUP B

SOUTH KOREA VS NIGERIA (2-2)

  • You felt that this was the game to decide the runner-up to group B.  You figured that Argentina, even with back-ups would still prevail over Greece.  So these were the circumstances for this one.  With a tie, South Korea would move one.  With a win, Nigeria would move on.
  • For the 3rd straight game, Nigeria opened with a 1-0 advantage.  Kalu Uche put home a cross from Chidi Odiah in the 12th minute.
  • South Korea scored the next two, both on set-pieces.  South Korea tied it in the 38th minute when Lee Jung-Soo netted one in with his shin.  It will be on Sportscenter’s Not Top 10 on Friday.  The go-ahead goal came from the foot of Park Chu-Young.  He swirled and curled it in, just avoiding the right post.  The South Korean commentary went absolutely ballistic, complete ecstasy.  This came in the 49th minute.
  • There was a ton of nail-biting going on in Nigeria.  When it’s all said and done, the gaffe of the tournament will go to Yakubu Aiyegbeni.  Yes, it was worse than Robert Green.  The guy missed a wide-open net from about a foot away.  This can only be accomplished by 2 year old infants, but they shoot on a Play-Skool net, way way smaller than regulation size.  In golf terms, it’s like missing one from 6 inches.
  • I’ll give the man Yakubu a teeny weeny bit of credit for drilling the penalty kick in the 69th minute to equalize
  • Breathtaking, is the word to describe the final 20 minutes.  So much tension,  South Korea desperately tried to cling on, while Nigeria desperately tried to get that one more goal.  In the end, South Korea moved on to the Round of 16 for the 1st time off home soil.  Nigeria could only blame themselves.  They had the chances in all 3 games, but simply could not capitalize.
  • Quick Facts- Nigeria is 0-6-2 in its last 8 World Cup matches.
  • Men of the Match
  • South Korea- Park Ji-Sung
  • Nigeria- Kalu Uche
  • GAME RATING- 3 1/4*

South Korean soccer supporters gather, in Seoul, South Korea, to watch a television broadcast of South Korea's Soccer World Cup Group B match against Nigeria taking place in Durban, Wednesday, June 23, 2010. The game ended in a 2-2 draw and Nigeria is out of the competition. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Hwang Kwang-mo)

(Celebration in Seoul, South Korea)

ARGENTINA VS GREECE (Arg- 2-0)

  • If Greece were to ever beat Argentina, today was the day.  Diego Maradona benched many of his players to rest and avoid injury.  Lionel Messi, though, still played.
  • The problem I had with Greece was their strategy.  They cam out in a 5-4-1.  I know that’s their style, but they needed a win.  It almost seemed liked they played to tie, and hoping for a Nigeria win to move on.
  • Greece did hold Argentina scoreless for 75 minutes, until Demichelis scored.  Greece pushed forward, and Argentina struck again to make it 2-0.
  • How Lionel Messi doesn’t have a goal baffles me.  That guy must have hit the post 234 times this World Cup.  It’s like Tiger Woods;  He keeps knocking it 10 feet from the cup with his irons, but lipping out on his puts.
  • Quick Facts- Argentina controlled possession 67% of the time  There will be a rematch in the round of 16 from 2006 between Mexico and Argentina.  Argentina won the previous encounter 2-1 in ET.
  • Men of the Match
  • Argentina- Lionel Messi
  • Greece- Giorgios Samaras
  • GAME RATING- 3/4*

Argentina head coach Diego Maradona, right, talks to Greece's Giorgos Karagounis during the World Cup group B soccer match between Greece and Argentina at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Argentina won 2-0.  (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

(Maradona- “your face is so soft and cuddly”)

(Giogios- “Diego, you’re making me blush”)

FINAL GROUP B STANDINGS

  1. Argentina (9 pts)
  2. South Korea (4 pts)
  3. Greece (3 pts)
  4. Nigeria (1 pt)

Tomorrow’s Schedule

  • (10:00 est) USA vs Algeria
  • (10:00 est) England vs Slovenia
  • (2:30 est) Germany vs Ghana
  • (2:30 est) Serbia vs Australia
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