FIFA World Cup 2010: Knockout Round, Anyone?
"It's all up to you." Every coach can use that line in order to get their respective team to the next round. With all four team still alive for a knockout spot, anything and everything will go in Tuesday's late games.
Argentina-Greece and South Korea-Nigeria will determine who advances to the knockout round in this year World Cup. Argentina is in first place with six points with victories over Nigeria and South Korea. South Korea is in second place with three points with a win over Greece. Greece is in third place with three points with a victory over Nigeria. In last place with two losses is Nigeria.
Goal differential will be the key to who advances in Group B. With the possibility of three teams having three or six points, the two teams with the higher goal differential will advance. This is how Nigeria can advance with a win over South Korea and a Greece loss to Argentina. With South Korea, Greece, and Nigeria all tied at three points, Nigeria will have the better differential and advance.
South Korea and Greece will both be eliminated with a loss tomorrow. A Greek win or tie along with a South Korean loss would advance the Greeks. A win by both teams would come down to goal differential. Argentina would probably advance in this scenerio as it would be hard for either Greece or South Korea to erase Argentina's plus-4 in goal differential.
When Nigeria takes on South Korea, the Nigerians will again relly on goalie Vincent Enyeama to keep them in the game. Enyeama has been the goalie of the tournament so far and has kept his team in both games. Scoring has been a problem for the Nigerians, but they might be able to crack the middle of the South Korean defense that was shredded by Argentina for four goals. Kanu, Martins, and the rest of the Nigerian strikers should be licking their chops against this defense.
South Korea should be able to control the midfield against Nigeria. Park Ji-Sung and Lee Chung-Yong should find space in the midfield to control and set up the South Korean attack. With the Nigerians needing to win the game and hoping Argentina does the same, the Nigerian defense and midfield will be open a little more.
I think the Nigerians will pull a minor upset and beat South Korea by a score of 2-1. The middle of South Korea defense is poor at best. Even with Nigeria banged up in the defense the Nigerian's still have an elite goalie in Enyeama. Enyeama and the Nigerian forwards will be enough to get them a win.
Greece-Argentina is a mismatch on paper. Argentina offensive firepower, led by Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito, and Carlos Tevez, can cause havoc on any defense. Add Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez, and Angel Di Maria in the midfield, and anyone of these seven players can put it into the net. The only question to ask who will play for Argentina? Does Diego Maradona rest players getting ready for the knockout round knowing only a miracle keeps them out of it?
Already missing Jonas Gutierrez for the Greece game after picking up two yellow cards, does Maradona play Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze both with a yellow card? With a deep team to choose from Maradona has plenty of options to unleash on Greece.
Greece, coming off their first World Cup win, will need at least a tie or a win to advance. The Greeks must play a 90-minute match against Argentina if they are going to pull an upset. With all the firepower upfront for Argentina, the defense has played very shaky. Nigeria was able to get quality shots at the Argentinine net, but their finishing was poor. South Korea scored a goal and had constant pressure on the Argentina defense. Greece must score if they are to advance. Playing for a tie will not get them through unless Nigeria does them a favor.
In the last game Otto Rehhegal brought in Georgios Samaras in the 33rd minute and Greece awoke. Rehhegal must find that magic again with his lineup to get Greece into the next round. Greece will need to get more out of everyone if they are going to pull the upset. I expect Greece to come out with 5-3-2 formation to try to slow Argentina. Look for Greece to try to score off the counterattack and set pieces.
I think the game will come down to how well Greece keeps Messi and Co. in check. If Argentina can score an early goal, it will be hard for Greece to come back and beat them. Lucky for the Greeks they play Argentina when they really don't need the game. Greece will be able to score once against the Argentina defense and get a tie that will put them through to the next round.
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