The 2010 FIFA World Cup is under way and half of the groups have played one game. While no team is mathematically out of advancing, some are in better position than others.
Group A, Group B, Group C, and Group D make up half of the groups in the World Cup. Those 16 teams have had a chance to control their own destiny with their play in their opening game.
Here is a look at these four groups broken down by who is in the driver’s seat, who still has work to do, and who needs help and wins to advance. Not all groups will have teams that fall into all of these categories.
Driver’s Seat: None
Work to do: South Africa, France, Uruguay, and Mexico
Needs help and wins: None
This group is very interesting after one game in group play. All four teams are tied with one point apiece after they all played to a draw in their opening game.
The two draws might spell trouble for Mexico, Uruguay and South Africa. France is known to be a slow starter but plays better as the tournament progresses.
Match number two will mean a lot to the teams in this group not named France. If they cannot get a good result, someone will find themselves behind the eight ball heading into the third and final match of group play.
A draw in their opening round match might ratchet up the pressure on France but wins are possible against Mexico and South Africa. If the French are to advance they must find some offense from somewhere.
The lack of Les Bleus offense does give hope to the rest of this group. South Africa and Mexico have at least found ways to score goals and the third tie breaker is greatest number of goals scored in group play.
Uruguay also needs to find some offense after going scoreless against France. This could be the tightest group in the World Cup.
June 16: South Africa vs. Uruguay
June 17: France vs. Mexico
Driver’s seat: South Korea, Argentina
Work to do: Nigeria
Needs help and wins: Greece
South Korea has taken this group by the horns after its 2-0 win over Greece. The South Koreans not only got three very big points but also take the lead in the group with a +2 goal differential.
What makes the South Korea win over the Greeks even bigger is the fact that they have a big match against Argentina in their next outing. Speaking of Argentina, this club is under a lot of pressure and they went out and got a win in their first match.
Argentina had a ton of chances to get more than just the one goal they scored and striker Lionel Messi should get better with ball as tournament goes on. As the tournament progresses they could turn into one of the highest scoring teams of the World Cup.
Nigeria is not out of this group by any means but they will have to find a positive result against Greece. If the Super Eagles fail to get a win over the Greeks they will find themselves heading home early.
The Greeks are down -2 in goal differential. While they can still advance they will more than likely need to win their next two matches.
On paper, South Korea and Argentina have a strangle hold on this group. Teams winning their opening match nearly always advance. The statistics point to the exact opposite for teams who lose their opening match.
Next up for group:
June 17: Argentina vs. South Korea
June 17: Greece vs. Nigeria
Driver’s seat: Slovenia
Work to do: England, United States
Needs help and wins: Algeria
There were two shocking results in Group C. The first was the tie that the United States found against England.
Clint Dempsey tied the game on one of the weakest goals in World Cup history. English goalkeeper Robert Green proved two things.
First that you cannot win World Cup games wearing Mickey Mouse gloves. The second was he announced after the game that his gloves were made by British Petroleum. And we all know that BP cannot stop anything.
The other shocking result was Slovenia getting a late goal after Algeria went down to 10 men when Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off the pitch after only playing 13minutes. The goal allowed Slovenia to jump to the top of this group with three big points.
With the three points, Slovenia leads Group C. Their next match against the United States now becomes huge for both teams and their hopes for advancing.
While Green was shaky for England, USA goalkeeper Tim Howard was outstanding. Now the Three Lions and the Stars and Stripes have to put this game behind them and get ready for the last two games of group play.
Both the US and England will be favorites to win their next two group games. England has to clear its head and find ways to get goals and the USA has to find way to move from underdog role to favorite and still win.
Algeria is behind all three teams in points and in goal differential. The Desert Foxes have to get a win in their next game. Bad news for Algeria their next match is against England who will want to silence the critics back home.
Next up for group:
June 18: Slovenia vs. United States
June 18: England vs. Algeria
Driver’s seat: Germany, Ghana
Work to do: Serbia
Needs help and wins: Australia
Germany is the favorite in this group and they wasted little time showing that while they are young, they will not be pushovers. The Germans scored four goals against Australia and could have put up more than four goals.
Ghana gets Africa’s first win of the World Cup when Serbia gives up a penalty with five minutes to go. With the Ivory Coast still left to play Ghana has the only win by an African team.
The rest of Africa is 0-1-3 so far in this World Cup. While there is time for the African teams to turn things around the second round could only have one team from the host continent.
The one goal loss by Serbia does not mean they cannot still advance. The problem is they are in a deep hole with Germany left to play and Ghana gets to play Australia.
Sure Serbia can get three points against Australia but it's also more than likely that Ghana will too. That means that Ghana will have six points while Serbia has to beat the Aussies and then upset Germany to advance. Even then, they still might need help.
After losing 0-4 to Germany the Socceroos are basically playing for pride. Being down -4 in goal differential means the Aussies will need to win their next two games to advance or will need a win and major help to advance.
Germany looks like the best team in the tournament so far. Australia looks like the worst.
Next up for group:
June 18: Germany vs. Serbia
June 19: Ghana vs. Australia
Stay tuned for a look at the second half of group play after all the teams have played one game. That will take place on June 16, 2010.
A look at the second half games will come as quickly as I can write it. Keep looking for recaps after half of the groups have played their second game and third game.