Monday, June 21, 2010


After yesterday's Spain v Honduras match, all 32 teams have now played 2 matches each. Two of the pre-quarter finalists (Brazil and the Netherlands) are already confirmed, while two teams, Cameroon and North Korea, are out of contention and their third match shall be their last.

All this means that 30 teams (including Brazil and the Netherlands) are still alive at this stage, which is quite incredible! Here is a look at the 8 groups:-

Group A

URU: Pts = 4, GD = 3
MEX: Pts = 4, GD = 2
FRA: Pts = 1, GD = -2
RSA: Pts = 1, GD = -3

Matches remaining (Jun 22, 19-30 IST): FRA v RSA, MEX v URU

Here nothing is confirmed yet. All four teams can still go through (theoretically). Of course, if Mexico and Uruguay draw, then they both go through (with Uruguay winning the group), and France and South Africa shall be both eliminated, irrespective of the result in their game. However, if there is a result in the Mexico v Uruguay match, then the winner goes through as Group Champions, while the loser may end up with the same number of points as the winner of the France v South Africa match, and goal difference comes into play. South Africa will have to win by a huge margin to be in contention, and Mexico (or Uruguay) will have to lose badly for the hosts to have any chance. France's chances are marginally better, if they win.

Still, Uruguay and Mexico seem to be the most likely teams to progress from Group A

Group B

ARG: Pts = 6, GD = 4
KOR: Pts = 3, GD = -1
GRE: Pts = 3, GD = -1
NGA: Pts = 0, GD = -2

Matches remaining (Jun 22, midnight IST): ARG v GRE, KOR v NGA

Here too, theoretically, all four teams can qualify for the knock-out stage. Argentina have produced some superb football in their two games, but if they lose badly to Greece, and Korea win big against Nigeria, then there may be three teams finishing on six points each, and goal difference might just eliminate Argentina. For that, Greece will have to beat Argentina by 3 clear goals (which will make their GD 2, and Argentina's GD 1), and Korea will also have to win by 3 clear goals (which will make their GD 2, too). That scenario looks most unlikely, but it is possible.

On the other hand, if Argentina beat Greece (by any margin), and Nigeria beat Korea (by any margin), then Argentina win the group with 9 points, and Nigeria finish second with 3 points - the same as Greece and South Korea, but a better GD! Intriguing possibilities! Common sense says that Argentina will win this group, and South Korea or Nigeria shall accompany them into the next stage. (But common sense has taken quite a beating already in this World Cup, so who knows!!)

Group C

SVN: Pts = 4, GD = 1
USA: Pts = 2, GD = 0
ENG: Pts = 2, GD = 0
ALG: Pts = 1, GD = -1

Matches remaining (Jun 23, 19-30 IST): ALG v USA, ENG v SVN

This is another group where all four teams are still in fray. A win for Slovenia over England will eliminate the latter, and Slovenia shall finnnish as group winners, irrespective of the result in the other match. A draw in the ENG v SVN match will also mean elimination for England, because whatever happens in the other match, at least 2 teams will have better records than them. Hopefully, England will beat Slovenia and progress, along with the winner of the ALG v USA game. (A draw there will take Slovenia through, whatever happens in their own game with England.) Still more intriguing possibilities!!!

Group D

GHA: Pts = 4, GD = 1
GER: Pts = 3, GD = 3
SRB: Pts = 3, GD = 0
AUS: Pts = 1, GD = -4

Matches remaining (Jun 23, midnight IST): AUS v SRB, GHA v GER

Once again, all four teams are still alive, theoretically, though Australia need to win against Serbia, and hope that Ghana beat Germany. This scenario seems most unlikely, though possible. If Germany beat Ghana, then Australia will have to win reall big to qualify. A draw in the Ghana Germany game will mean Australia requiring a win by a 7 goal margin to pip Germany on GD. Serbia, meanwhile need to beat Australia to qualify, along with the winners of the Ghana Germany game. (A draw there will take Ghana through, whatever happens in the Serbia Australia match - Germany will qualify with a draw if Serbia fail to win (or lose by 6 goals or less!)

Group E

NED: Pts = 6, GD = 3 (through)
JPN: Pts = 3, GD = 0
DEN: Pts = 3, GD = -1
CMR: Pts = 0, GD = -2 (out)

Matches remaining (Jun 24, midnight IST): DEN v JPN, CMR v NED.

This group is one of the clearest groups in this year's competition, as of now. Netherlands are already through here, and Cameroon are already eliminated. Even if Cameroon beat the Dutch, Denmark or Japan (or both, in case of a draw) will still be ahead of them, along with the Netherlands. The winner of the Denmark Japan game shall also qualify. A draw will take Japan through on GD, ahead of Denmark. So everything hinges on the Denmark Japan game as to who will qualify for the pre-quarter finals along with the Dutch.

Group F

PAR: Pts = 4, GD = 2
ITA: Pts = 2, GD = 0
NZL: Pts = 2, GD = 0
SVK: Pts = 1, GD = -2

Matches remaining (Jun 24, 19-30 IST): ITA v SVK, NZL v PAR

Here, too, all four teams are still in contention. If the bottom nation Slovakia beat Italy, and Paraguay beat New Zealand, then they both go through. If italy and New Zealand win their respective matches, then they both go through. A draw would be enough for Paraguay to qualify. A loss for Paraguay may also take them through, if Italy and Slovakia draw, or if Slovakia win and Paraguay lose by a small margins.

Group G

BRA: Pts = 6, GD = 3 (through)
POR: Pts = 4, GD = 7
CIV: Pts = 1, GD = -2
PRK: Pts = 0, GD = -8 (out)

Matches remaining (Jun 25, 19-30 IST): BRA v POR, CIV v PRK

Brazil are already through, even if they lose to Portugal, as neither Ivory Coast nor North Korea can catch them on points. North Korea are already eliminated. Ivory Coast can still qualify (theoretically) but to do that they will have to beat North Korea by a huge margin, and hope that Brazil beat Portugal by a big margin, too. However, it seems most likely that Portugal shall accompany Brazil into the knock-out stage from this group.

Group H

CHI: Pts = 6, GD = 2
ESP: Pts = 3, GD = 1
SUI: Pts = 3, GD = 0
HON: Pts = 0, GD = -3

Matches remaining (Jun 25, midnight IST): CHI v ESP, HON v SUI.

Here Chile are on top, but they can still be eliminated, and Honduras, the bottom team, can still qualify. If Spain beat Chile (by any margin), and Switzerland beat Honduras (by any margin), then both Spain and Switzerland qualify. If Honduras beat Switzerland and Chile beat Spain, then Honduras, Spain and Switzerland all finish with 3 points and GD comes into action. A big win for Honduras shall take them through, if Spain lose. More intrigue!

As seen from the above, of the remaining 16 group matches, only the Cameroon v Netherlands match is meaningless (in terms of qualification and elimination, though it could still decide the group positions, if Cameroon win.) This proves beyond any reasonable doubt that this has been one of the most competitive World Cups ever. One hopes that the competition gets even better in the knock-out stage!

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