Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup cheat sheet: Day 12

It's business time in the group stage, with four teams set to book their place in the knock-out rounds today. Hint: France won't be one of them.


Monday's action
Portugal 7-0 North Korea - Group G - Cape Town

This absolute hammering was actually quite close until the most disastrous half-time team-talk of all time. The Koreans trailed 1-0 to a Raul Meireles goal but were making life hard for Portugal, but after the break started to hurtle forwards and got repeatedly caught out - goals flowed like the rain in soggy Cape Town. Simao, Hugo Almeida, Tiago (twice), Liedson and Cristiano Ronaldo all hit the target to ensure the match may never be shown in Pyongyang. The result all but eliminates Ivory Coast, who must now overturn a nine-goal deficit behind Portugal.

Chile 1-0 Switzerland - Group H - Port Elizabeth

Another impressive performance from the Chileans, who have two wins out of two but may still struggle to qualify - they, Switzerland and Spain could all finish on six points. The game turned on the half-hour mark when Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami was sent off for a flailing but not dangerous arm that Arturo Vidal made the most of. Switzerland set a World Cup record of 559 minutes without conceding but eventually fell to a 75th-minute Mark Gonzalez header.

Spain 2-0 Honduras - Group H - Johannesburg

The pre-tournament favourites duly won this must-win game, but should have at least equalled Portugal's tally from earlier in the day. David Villa scored twice - the first a sensational solo effort, the second a deflected shot. But Villa missed a penalty to complete his hat-trick and Fernando Torres was unusually profligate. Spain will qualify if they beat Chile in their last game, but their failure to run up the score here could mean they finish second and face Brazil in the second round.


Tuesday preview
Both matches within a group are played simultaneously to avoid any collusion. So for the next few days it will be two games at 5.00, then two more at 9.30. More details at the bottom of the page.

Group A - Mexico v Uruguay (Rustenburg) and France v South Africa (Bloemfontein)

If Mexico and Uruguay draw, both teams will go through, so expect accusations to fly if they produce that result. However, second-placed Mexico will want to win to avoid Argentina in the second round. Should the French players bother turning up to play the hosts, they need to run up the score to overturn a goal difference of four behind Mexico and five behind Uruguay. They are without Nicolas Anelka who was expelled on Saturday. Bafana Bafana have a slim chance but only if they thrash France.

Group B - Nigeria v Korea Republic (Durban) and Greece v Argentina (Polokwane)

Argentina are not technically through yet - although to be knocked out they would have to lose to Greece by three, and Korea would have to beat Nigeria by the same margin. Diego Maradona is expected to field a strong side, and Korea know they must only equal or better Greece's result to progress. Nigeria lost their first two games, but could go through if they beat Korea by two and Argentina beat Greece.


Water cooler chat: Capello slams Terry

With a level of irony that even Alanis Morissette could have identified correctly, Fabio Capello used a television interview to rebuke John Terry for voicing his concerns to the media the previous day.

Clearly, logic dictates that if you're going to tell players not to mouth off to the press, you cannot do it by mouthing to the press. But Capello has clearly decided this is no time for philosophical niceties, and leapt straight into this metaphysical minefield, caring not if his limbs were blown straight into the gaping mouths of the assembled hacks.

"When you speak, you have to speak privately, not with the media," he said. "This is the big mistake, this is the very big mistake," he added, as everyone in the room nodded sagely.

With Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King injured and Jamie Carragher suspended, Capello has confirmed fifth-choice centre-back Matthew Upson will play against Slovenia on Wednesday. Might the Italian axe Terry and partner Upson with sixth-choice Michael Dawson instead?

What to say:
Anything you like, as long as you don't say it to the media.

What not to say:
Terry has already invoked Nicolas Anelka, so in his case what not to say is: 'Go f*** yourself, dirty son of a whore.'

World Cup jargon: Simulcast

Since the infamous West Germany-Austria carve-up in 1982, all four teams in a group have played their final game at the same time to (attempt to) ensure fairness.

The result is much flicking between channels and often confusion as teams try to find out what is happening elsewhere.

In 1998, Morocco beat Scotland 3-0 and began celebrating their qualification to the second round. Only for somebody to inform them that Norway had improbably scored two late goals against Brazil, and the Moroccans had been eliminated.

How groups are decided:
1- Points
2- Goal difference
3- Goals scored
4- Head-to-head
5- Drawing lots

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