Posted by Jack @ 8:25 pm on June 21st 2010

World Cup Group A and B third round matches

Our other two active World Cup threads may have run their courses, so here is a format for discussion of Tuesday’s round three matches for Groups A and B.

Group A: Though not one of these four countries has secured a spot in the knock off round, Uruguay and Mexico sit firmly at the top of the group, and it will take special circumstances for France or, far less likely, South Africa to sneak past either of them into the number two spot. Whoever wins the Uruguay-Mexico match wins the group, a tie means Uruguay wins and Mexico takes second, and it is likely that even the loser of this match will still qualify. Which is pretty awesome, because due to the nature of tie breaker criteria, in order for France to qualify they will need an unlikely, though not impossible, set of events to occur. Namely, they will need a big win against SA, and for the other match to be decisive as well. For example: French and Uruguay victories would leave France and Mexico tied on points, but France has to make up more than a four goal differential (group play goals for minus goals against) against Mexico to take the number two qualifying spot. If, for instance, Uruguay beats Mexico 2-0, and France beats South Africa 3-0, then France will gain the number two spot. It is even theoretically possible for South Africa to qualify, but they would need to decimate France in something approaching a Portugal vs North Korea fashion. Predictions: Uruguay beats Mexico, France defeats South Africa, but Mexico retains the number two group position.

Group B:
Argentina is one of the few top teams consistently playing up to expectations. They sit at the top of Group B, one of only four teams with two wins, and while it is theoretically possible for them to be eliminated, it would take a rather extraordinary set of events to even knock them out of the Group B champion spot. The real battle is for the number two spot, and Korea has the distinct advantage of… not having to play Argentina again. For Greece to take the two spot from Korea, they will have to beat Argentina, unlikely enough as it is, and hope for Nigeria to beat or tie Korea. If both Greece and Korea win, then Greece has to win by a goal more than Korea. Odd as it sounds, despite sitting at the bottom of the group with zero points, Nigeria has an easier path to the knock off round qualification than Greece. If they win, and Argentina beats Greece, then surprise! Nigeria wins the three way, 3 point tie for second place on tie breaker criteria. Which would be kinda awesome. Predictions: Argentina unsurprisingly bests Greece, and Korea rebounds from their crushing defeat against Argentina to draws or beat Nigeria and secure the number two position.

32 Comments »

  1. Uruguay 0:0 Mexico
    France 2:1 RSA
    Argentina 3:0 Greece
    Nigeria 1:1 South Korea

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2010 @ 11:13 pm

  2. Man, the France implosion this year is going to be the stuff of legends for many years to go. The go-to example, spoken Keyser Soze-like by managers and team leaders for a generation.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:33 am

  3. Adding to your Group A analysis: whoever takes second in the group faces Argentina in the knock off. Which will be no fun. The first place finisher gets Nigeria or Greece.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:34 am

  4. South Africa up 2 – nil at the half, give up a 70th minute goal to France though, and now France looking like they should be able to tie. Is it fair to say that tying South Africa counts as a moral victory for France?

    Mexico – Uruguay, 0-1 at the 80th minute, and the players are now just sort of leisurely strolling up and down the field.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:36 am

  5. Although South Africa still fighting to win possessions.

    The same cannot be said of Uruguay, who have taken to falling arbitrarily now, not really to try to play-act a card so much as just to get some rest.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:41 am

  6. So if South Africa hang on and don’t score another, say, 5 goals in the next 8 minutes, Group A is indeed the other game going on now, with the loser to play Argentina. There was some speculation that Uruguay and Mexico would just play to a draw and both go through, but not having to face Argentina, who are the only great team that hasn’t looked like shit yet (and are thus my favorites to win), was a good impetus for Mexico to try to compete.

    That said, as both games wind down, all four teams seem okay with letting the current scores stand. If I were South Africa, I might just start lobbing half-court jumpers right about now. Still, at least they got a win.

    Spoke too soon: they’re going out for the three extra minutes looking like they’d like another score, thank you very much.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:49 am

  7. I wonder how different the group would have gone had South Africa and France played first, with this result?

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:51 am

  8. Two great shots from South Africa with only seconds left, a very nice head-held-high moment for them.

    Group result:

    Uruguay 10
    Mexico 4
    South Africa 4 (loses on goal differential)
    France 1

    Uruguay to Greece or Nigeria, Mexico to Argentina, South Africa with the moral victory, and last place France…well. I don’t even know what to say about France. Never has a power nation’s team so utterly deserved their own total collapse? They could have all strolled out for today’s game in diapers and not appreciably worsened their current reputation?

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 11:55 am

  9. Despite injuries, Nigeria looking pretty good against South Korea, up 1-0 early. Argentina-Greece still tied.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 2:50 pm

  10. 1-1 Nigeria-South Korea, on a lucky goal by SK. Still, I doubt it stays that way the way they’re both playing.

    Greece-Argentina still an 0-0 draw, which is bad news for Nigeria. If Greece manage to hang on, and SK win, I think they can still advance (not sure; I know they can if Greece wins and SK wins).

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 3:30 pm

  11. It’s South Korea that comes out strong, with one of the most beautiful free kicks I’ve ever seen.

    Bam, and Nigeria come back to equalize at 2. This is really a fantastic game.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 3:57 pm

  12. Not sure how this plays out for advancement. Nigeria need to win and hope Argentina do the same. Greece need to win by like 2 or something. No idea for South Korea.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 3:59 pm

  13. Okay, if SK win or draw and Greece loses or draws, SK is in, I think. Greece need Nigeria to win at this point. If Nigeria win and Argentina get a goal in to unlock the draw and win…SK is in?

    Weird. 15 minutes left and the entire group hangs in the balance (save Argentina).

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:03 pm

  14. Unfortunatly, Nigeria’s squad is just wracked by injuries now – and those are just the healthy ones that were able to start. They’re pretty deep in the bench at this point. But they’re playing for a win, for sure, and look great.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:04 pm

  15. As do SK, though.

    Did I ever tell you I saw Nigeria beat Brazil in the semifinals at the 96 Olympics? Probably my best sporting memory of all time. Go Nigeria!

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:05 pm

  16. Argentina (finally) score!

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:08 pm

  17. Wow, hella exciting 10 minutes here. It’s anybody’s game at this point, although Nigeria and Greece will have to work the hardest. The fate of all three teams hangs in the balance.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:09 pm

  18. Like a game of keep-away at this point. South Korea do NOT want a very, very hungry Nigeria to get possession.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:12 pm

  19. South Korea not playing for a draw. This is a game of who wants it most at this point. Great game.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:15 pm

  20. Greece, however, not doing much.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:16 pm

  21. Argentina up 2 now.

    Nigeria playing like the devil, just getting no breaks, and South Korea still very game.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:17 pm

  22. Oh shit, great shot by Nigeria, barely a foot wide and hits the side net-crowd lets out a collective “AAAA–uhhhhh!”

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:18 pm

  23. Greece out of contention at this point. If Nigeria get their goal, they’re through–otherwise SK go through.

    DAMN! Another near-miss from Nigeria. This’ll be heart-breaking if they can’t pull it out.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:19 pm

  24. Man, Nigeria are inches from this. 1 minute left maybe.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:21 pm

  25. Shit.

    South Korea advance (as does Argentina). Tough, tough loss (well, tie) for Nigeria. They ought to hold their heads high, but must be gutted. As close to advancing after losing your first two games as any team must have ever gotten.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:23 pm

  26. South Korea understandably elated. This was a tough as hell group.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:24 pm

  27. Man, bummed out. To expand on my 96 memory, it was also one of the gutsiest sporting performances I’ve ever seen, where they were in a huge deficit in talent that they made up for with pure grit and drive. Ever since then, Nigeria’s been sort of my home team apart from America. If I had to pick a moment that made me appreciate soccer, that was far and away it. I love to watch them, love to see them do well, and although they’re maddeningly erratic, when they get a fire under them they’re always dangerous.

    South Korea though is in an interesting spot. They’re starting to look a lot like America in terms of a consistent mid-major (to transpose an NCAA basketball term). After their World Cup and now qualifying on foreign soil, soccer on the Korean penninsula ought to get a big boost, and get its hooks in even deeper.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 4:37 pm

  28. I’ve always been fond of South Korea–always undersized, and always eager to make up for it with their workrate.

    That miss in the second half of the Nigeria game was a blinder, one of the worst ever. I need to find a clip of the Wizards’ miss earlier this year that rivals it…

    Comment by Rojas — 6/22/2010 @ 4:52 pm

  29. To be fair, he did get it like three minutes later. I don’t think it would have been 3-2 had he made it the first shot – would have still been 2-2, just that second goal coming three minutes earlier.

    T’was brutal though. Trying to find a replay.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 5:01 pm

  30. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Kansas City Wizards…

    Comment by Rojas — 6/22/2010 @ 5:16 pm

  31. Hahaha. Oh my.

    Comment by Brad — 6/22/2010 @ 5:28 pm

  32. Watched the first games at the airport, and arrived in Guatemala in time to catch teh second half of the second games. A whole lot or Argentina shirts on the streets in Guatemala City today.

    I canīt believe you guys were doubting my South Korea path to victory analysis up there, I laid it out so clearly, I was still sober when I wrote it!

    Group C and D neophyte analysis up in a post now.

    Comment by Jack — 6/22/2010 @ 8:35 pm

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