The soccer world cup has been full of sad surprises. Join me in a group by group update-
Group A: France’s performance has been the mother of all surprises. The start studded team is languishing at the bottom of the table with their chances of progressing resting on a wafer thin line. They lost to Mexico 0-2 and drew blank with Uruguay. While the goal difference of Mexico is 2 and that of Uruguay is 3, France’s goal difference is -2. So for them to have any realistic chance of qualifying, they must beat South Africa by a difference of 4 goals and pray one of Uruguay or Mexico lose by at least 3 goals. If the two teams draw, they will progress and France will automatically be out. The equation looks unlikely and in all probabilities, France is going to be eliminated again. (Remember 2002?)
Group B: Argentina became one of the first teams to sail through to the second round. A solid display against the Nigerians followed by equally impressive goal scoring display against the South Koreans, they are a team looking most likely to lift the cup this time. Greece and South Korea have one win each and Nigeria are out. With Argentina already through, it all depends if Greece can pull off a good result against them. Otherwise South Korea looks all set to move to second round.
Group C: This group is split wide open by the 2-2 draw between the Americans and Slovenia. The most fancied team of England, with two draws, is teetering on the brink of the exit. They will have their task cut out against Slovenia and only a win can save them. The USA is also in contention with 2 point to their credit. The whole situation is very tricky. Slovenia has 4 points, Both England and USA have 2 and Algeria have 1 point. Now it all depends on the last round matches.
Group D: Germany were left fuming after a strong start against the Australians. Serbia exposed chinks in the German armour by defeating them. As a result, Ghana takes up an unlikely position of a group leader with 4 points. Both Germany and Serbia are on 3 points each. It is a must win game for all. Well I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I really want Germany to qualify. But I also want to see Ghana.
Group E: Though I wouldn’t say that the Dutch were a fantastic team to watch, they have got the results in their favour. So they also become one of the first few teams to qualify for the next round along with Argentina. Rest, group’s qualification meter is simple. Cameroon is out. Denmark and Japan meet in a winner takes all tie. One of them will go through.
Group F: I’m wary of the Italians. They were initially listless even the last world cup. But they went on to win it. They are in a similar situation this year too with two draws. They have to get a good result against Slovakia. This will be a winner takes all tie with Paraguay all set to qualify even if they draw with New Zealand. Or are we up for another Kiwi surprise? You never know!
Group G: The Samba boys have danced their way into the second round. Great goal scoring form displayed by Elano and Fabiano means they are all set to go to the semis at least. Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea have all got chances to qualify. It all now depends on how they perform against each other.
Group H: My word, what has happened to Spain? Their performance against Switzerland was far from impressive. They had their chances and they couldn’t capitalise. This is unacceptable from a team classified as one of the favourites to win the cup. They meet Honduras next, who lost to Chile in another group match. The leaders Chile and Switzerland also meet today. Let us see what happens next. Will Chileans or the Swiss go through today? Will Spain strike form? Just wait and watch!
So that is the round up from my end. Only 3 teams have been able to book their places in the knock out round of 16. With 13 places up for grabs and 29 teams competing, the last round robin matches are going to be mouth watering contests. Ahoy!