There's certainly been no lack of headlines at the 2010 World Cup, and we're still only less than two weeks into the competition.
Koman Coulibaly's invisible no-goal call that cost the U.S.A two points hasn't been the only thing, either...New Zealand's stoppage time goal, Gonzalo Higuain's remarkable hat trick, or Portugal's second half for the ages all also sent fans into a frenzy across the globe.
With the second round of matches now concluded in South Africa, each team now knows exactly what they have to do, or what other factors must happen for them to finish in the top two of their group and advance to the knockout stage.
After Monday afternoon, every group has completed their second round and are down to only the final "synchronized start" matches, where both games in the group begin at the same time to prevent one side from having an advantage of knowing what they need to do.
Surprisingly to many, FIFA has determined for the 2010 Cup, the tiebreaking formula states the goals-differential the first tiebreaker, and then head-to-head result between the two teams, making deciding the "advancer" beforehand even tougher.
In the meantime, though, we'll get on with the circumstances...
Following two opening day draws, Uruguay and Mexico came out with intensity in Round Two, handling South Africa 3-0 and France 2-0, respectively. Let's see how each team can clinch advancement.
Uruguay (4 points)
...can advance with a win or tie against Mexico next Tuesday. In both cases, they would finish first, due to a tiebreaker edge over Mexico.
However, if they were to lose and France was to defeat South Africa, Uruguay and France's seedings would be determined the goals-for tiebreaker.
Mexico (4 points)
...can also advance with a win or tie against Uruguay next Tuesday. A win would give them the top slot; a tie would give them the second slot.
Similarly once more, if they were to lose and South Africa were to defeat France, Mexico and South Africa's fates would be determined by the tiebreaker.
France (1 point)
...must defeat South Africa, which would then create a tiebreaker scenario to determine who advances.
South Africa (1 point)
...likewise, must defeat France, which would then create a tiebreaker scenario to determine who advances.
After the Koreans surprised the Greeks and Argentina held off Nigeria last weekend, a dominating win by the Argentineans over South Korea and a come-from-behind victory for Greece mixed things up in "Round Two".
Argentina (6 points)
...has all-but-clinched advancing to the Knockout Stage. A win or tie against Greece will secure them the first-place position. If they were to lose, but Nigeria defeated South Korea, Argentina would finish second. If they were to lose and South Korea defeated Nigeria, the slim chance of not moving on would be called into play.
South Korea (3 points)
...would advance with a win or draw against Nigeria. A loss to Nigeria and a loss by Greece would set up an interesting problem, with all three teams having three points and all three teams having defeated one other team and fallen to one other team.
A loss to Nigeria and win by Greece would eliminate South Korea from the competition.
Greece (3 points)
...advances only with a win over Argentina and a South Korea loss or tie to Nigeria. A tie against Argentina would force South Korea to have to lose to Nigeria for the Greeks to move on.
If they were to lose to Argentina, only a Nigeria win could set up a remote chance for Greece to win the tiebreaker and finish second.
Nigeria (0 points)
...must defeat South Korea and have Argentina down Greece to earn an opportunity to advance. The three teams would all be tied in points, and the one advancing one out of them would be determined by their goals-for/goals-against ratio, in which Nigeria is currently in last place.
A shocking draw by the U.S.A and England on opening Saturday started off the headlines streaming out of this competitive group, and they haven't halted since.
A comeback by the Americans against Slovenia earned them a 2-2 draw, despite controversy around a potentially-winning goal by the United States, but then the U.S.A's unfortunate luck was avenged by a stunningly-boring scoreless draw between England and Algeria.
Slovenia (4 points)
...finishes in first place with a win over England. A draw with England and a U.S.A loss or tie also keeps them in first place. A draw with England and a U.S.A win over Algeria would force a tiebreaker situation between the two to determine their placement in advancing.
The only situation in which Slovenia would not advance would be a loss to England and an American victory, in which England and the United States would move on.
United States (2 points)
...qualifies for the Knockout Stage with a win over Algeria. Were that to happen, a win by England over Slovenia or a draw between the two sides would result in a tiebreaker situation to determine if they finish first or second. Any Slovenia victory would put the U.S. in second.
A draw with Algeria would then need an England loss, in which the United States would advance outright, or draw, in which the United States and England's position would be determined by the goals-for tiebreaker, which currently favors America three goals to one.
England (2 points)
...moves on with a win over Slovenia, or a draw with Slovenia and a U.S.A loss to Algeria. A draw by both sides would force a tiebreaker, and England would have to score three or more goals than America in their final matches for the British to advance.
Algeria (1 point)
...can only move on with a win over the U.S. A win by Slovenia or draw would put them through outright, an England win would force a tiebreaker with Slovenia.
Ghana and Germany rolled over their opponents in the first set of games by a combined score of 5-0, but then Serbia's upset over the Germans and Australia's improbable 10-man draw mixed up Group D once more.
Ghana (4 points)
...finishes in first place with a win over Germany, or with a draw and Australia win or draw over Serbia. A draw with the Germans and a Serbia victory will put them in second place.
If Ghana was to lose to Germany, however, an Australia win or draw against Serbia would be necessary to create a tiebreaker situation to determine who would advance.
Germany (3 points)
...advances with a win over Ghana, or with a tie and Australia win or draw, setting up a tiebreaking situation in which the Germans currently hold a huge edge. A loss to Ghana eliminates Germany from the Cup.
Serbia (3 points)
...would move on with a win over Australia, or could earn a draw to set up a definite tiebreaker circumstance. Unfortunately, however, Serbia currently trails both Ghana and Germany.
A loss is not affordable for Serbia if they intend to try to advance.
Australia (1 points)
...must defeat Serbia and hope for the best in a tiebreaking situation with either Ghana or Germany, where they currently are far behind.
While the Netherlands continues to cruise by with two consecutive 2-0 and 1-0 victories and Japan's upset of Cameroon also got them into the talk after the first match, Denmark also managed to get into the discussion Saturday with a 2-1 thriller and set up a must-watch final match in Group E.
Netherlands (6 points)
...is the first team to secure a spot in their group's advancing slots. A win or tie against Cameroon will guarantee them the top spot, a loss would set up a tiebreaker with the winner of Japan/Denmark to determine the order of the top two finishers.
Japan (3 points)
...started off strongly with a victory over Cameroon, but a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Dutch have set them up for a winner-moves-on match with Denmark next Thursday. Fortunately for Japan, a draw between the two favors the Japanese, who hold the edge in goals ratio.
Denmark (3 points)
...won when they had to in a exciting 2-1 win over Cameroon, but now have an even tougher challenge if they wish to move on. Only a victory over the Japanese would give the Danes the edge in advancing, but that is certainly now within reach.
Cameroon (0 points)
...has, despite expectations, become the first team eliminated from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Even if they defeat Holland, they cannot finish above both Japan and Denmark since at least one of them will finish with more than three points.
Two opening day ties gave us the immediate impression that Group F was going to be a tight race, and the second round of matches proved that even further.
Paraguay (4 points)
...advances with a if they earn any points against New Zealand in a win or draw. A win or draw and Slovakia victory or tie secures them the top spot; a draw and Italy victory sets up a tiebreaker situation between the two for their seedings. Even a loss and a draw between Slovakia and Italy sends Paraguay through.
However, if they were to lose to and Slovakia were to defeat Italy, it would come down to a tiebreaker between the two. A loss and Italy victory would improbably eliminate Paraguay from moving on.
Italy (2 points)
...needs to defeat Slovakia to move on. A draw against Slovakia would then need New Zealand loss for the Italians to be sure of advancing: if the Kiwis were to draw as well, it would go down to drawing lots to determine which of the two moved on.
New Zealand (2 points)
...can put themselves through to the knockout stage with a win over Paraguay. A tie would, as explained above, give them a far harder chance at moving on, yet a still possible one.
Slovakia (1 point)
Slovakia must defeat Italy, first of all, to have a chance. Were they to pull that off, any Paraguay win or tie would guarantee placement in the Knockout Stage. A New Zealand victory, however, would give the Slovakians an unlikely shot at moving on.
Any loss or tie crushes Slovakia's hopes.
The first round of games just managed to confirm Group G's status as a true "Group of Death", but then two decisive 3-1 and 7-0 deficits in the second round of matches threw everyone off guard. Here's how each team stands in terms of their chances to advance.
Brazil (6 points)
...has already secured a berth in the round of 16. A win or tie against Portugal earns them the top slot, a loss places them in second.
Portugal (4 points)
...hasn't mathematically guaranteed their advancement yet, but is virtually already through. A win over Brazil in their final game wins Portugal the group, or a draw clinches second place.
Even if they were to lose outright, only a Cote D'Ivoire win would set up a tiebreaker situation, and even there Portugal already holds a whopping nine goal advantage.
Cote D'Ivoire (1 point)
...has their work cut out for them if they want to move on. A win over North Korea and a Brazil victory over Portugal is crucial, but they would need very large deficits in both games to even come close to winning the tiebreaker with the Portuguese.
North Korea (0 points)
...is now the second team ousted from the 2010 World Cup. Their hope-crushing 7-0 loss at the hands of Portugal was the fourth-biggest rout in World Cup history, just below Yugoslavia-Zaire in 1974 (9-0), Hungary-South Korea in 1954 (9-0), and Hungary-El Salvador in 1982 (10-1).
The final 2010 World Cup group's streak of consecutive 1-0 deficits was stopped by Spain, but it still proves even more that Group H is as tight as can be.
Chile (6 points)
...secures advancing with a win or draw against Spain, with both scenarios also putting the Chileans in first place. A loss against Spain and a Honduras win or draw also puts them through, although in the second slot.
If the unlikely situation of a loss to Spain and a Switzerland victory over Honduras were to happen, Chile may fall into third place depending on the scores.
Spain (3 points)
...moves on, despite some unexpected struggles, with a win against Chile, which would also put them in first place. A tie and Honduras win or draw also secures them the second placement.
Unfortunately for the Spaniards, a tie and Switzerland victory, or a loss and Switzerland win or draw or loss by three or more goals would knock them out of the tourney.
Switzerland (3 points)
...can earn a guaranteed berth in the Knockout Round with a victory over Honduras and a Chile win or draw against Spain. A tie against Honduras would set up a necessary Chilean win for the Swiss to move on.
Although they aren't mathematically knocked out with a loss, they would need a loss by Spain by two or more goals against Chile.
Honduras (0 points)
...must defeat Switzerland by several tallies and have Chile overcome Spain to have a chance. Then, depending the goals tiebreaker where Honduras is currently far into last place, they could have an unexpected berth to move on.
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