Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 World Cup: Halfway there

Half way through. 32 games played.

Some excitement, some dross, some off field drama, some amusement.

Switzerland beating Spain and New Zealand getting a draw with Italy have probably been the stand out results.

France have added a certain Gallic flair to a remarkable implosion. I can’t wait to see what form the post World Cup inquest takes in Paris. The guillotine might be pressed into action.

It’s difficult to comment on England after the Algeria. Mainly because I fall asleep whenever I think of the game. Wayne Rooney has given me narcolepsy.

The fluidity of some of Brazil’s passing on Sunday evening and Spain’s 2-0 demolition job on Honduras last night suggest that the next 32 games might offer more sustained quality than we’ve seen over the course of the first 32.

What teams are going to progress to the second round? A number of groups remain in the balance, a number of big teams face an anxious third game.

If nothing else the South Africa has made World Cup betting hugely exciting. Unfortunately it’s played havoc with my powers of prediction.

Bleacher Report has an interesting couple of slideshows showing what the teams in Group A and Group B need to do qualify. I presume they’ll be doing this throughout the week so it will be worth checking back.

In the meantime, here’s my thoughts on who will live to fight another day:

Group A: Uruguay and Mexico. I’d love South Africa to get through and I think they’ll beat France but I don’t think it will be enough.

Group B: Argentina and South Korea. Argentina should beat Greece and I expect South Korea to do enough against Nigeria.

Group C: England and USA. Close one this. I think England will beat Slovenia and I fancy the US to sneak past Algeria.

Group D: Germany and Serbia. Another close one. The German will get past Ghana and I expect Serbia will have just enough to dispatch Australia.

Group E: Netherlands and Denmark. The Dutch are already through and I think Denmark will beat Japan to join them.

Group F: Paraguay and Italy. Paraguay will top the group with a win over New Zealand, Italy will beat Slovakia although a draw would be enough.

Group G: Brazil and Portugal. Portugal’s demolition of North Korea has all but finished this group. I’d love both Brazil and Portugal to really go for it when they meet in the final game though.

Group H: Spain and Switzerland. Another tight one. Spain will beat Chile and Switzerland will beat Honduras. Then it’s down to goal difference. Almost too close to call but I’m backing the European double.

History suggests that I’m unlikely to have called many of these right. It does strike me that after a topsy-turvy opening my predictions don’t throw up many shocks. An unpredictable World Cup but, in the shakedown, probably not a World Cup that’s going to be remembered for a massacre of the usual suspects in the opening round.