World Cup Day 12 Preview

Eugene FogartyContributor IJune 21, 2010

Group A

Mexico v Uruguay, Rustenburg

France v South Africa, Bloemfontein 

(both 3pm)

Many believe Group A to be a foregone conclusion and the most straightforward of the eight groups at this World Cup. With one game to go for each team, all Uruguay and Mexico need to do is draw their game at Royal Bafokeng for both to progress to the second round.

The situation evokes memories of 1982 when Germany beat Austria 1-0 in a game that saw both progress to the second group stage. That game has set the current trend for final group matches being played simultaneously. More recently, in Euro 2004, Denmark and Sweden played out a 2-2 draw on the final day of the group stage, a result that conveniently saw both reach the quarter finals at the expense of an unbeaten Italy, conservatively coached by Giovanni Trapattoni.

Perhaps matters will be different this time. While both will be desperate to make the last 16, neither will want to play Argentina, probable winners of Group B. Argentina are traditionally Uruguay's biggest rivals and the alibiceleste knocked Mexico out of the Mundial at the second round stage four years ago. They are not a welcome prospect.

A draw will leave El Tri up against it in round two, but they would rather take their chances against Argentina than not be there at all.

If one of the top two decides to go for the win and succeed, or even fail for that matter, either France or South Africa will be waiting in the wings to replace them in second spot. Both sides go into their encounter in turmoil, especially France.

For the French the tournament has been a disaster. Results have not gone their way, their performance against Mexico was spiritless and lacking direction, Nicolas Anelka was subsequently sent home for a half time outburst directed toward Raymond Domenech.

Since last Thursday, captain Patrice Evra has claimed their is a traitor in the camp, players have refused to train, members of the French Football Federation have resigned and rumour has it some players will chose not to play against Bafana Bafana in Bloemfontein.

The feeling seems to be that Les Bleus have already accepted their elimination, believing the Spanish speaking duo will conspire against them.

As for the hosts they are already without the suspended goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi which makes their mountain that much harder to climb. Moeneeb Josephs will come as 'keeper for their do or die encounter.

A victory for Bafana Bafana will shine some light on their tournament and they would love to bow out on a good note. Their performance against Uruguay was so bad that a repeat is surely not possible and they will presumably have the heart to take the game to the French, who despite their superior players are a team in decline and chaos.

A win for either side, one feels, won't be enough anyway.


1. Uruguay
2. Mexico
3. France
4. South Africa

Probable teams:

Mexico (4-3-3): Perez, Aguilar, Osorio, Rodrigues, Salcido, Marquez, Catro, Torrado, Dos Santos, Hernandez, Franco.

Uruguay (4-4-3): Muscila, M Pereira, Godin, Lugano, Fucile, Perez, A Pereira, Arevalo, Cavani, Forlan, Suarez.

France (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Sagna, Gallas, Abidal, Evra; Toulalan, Diaby; Ribery, Gourcuff, Malouda; Henry.

South Africa (4-4-1-1): Josephs; Gaxa, Khumalo, Mokoena, Masilela; Modise, Sibaya, Letsholonyane, Tshabalala; Pienaar; Mphela.

Group B

Argentina v Greece, Polokwane

Korea Republic v Nigeria, Durban 

(both 7:30pm)

Any two of the four teams comprising Group B can still qualify for the second round but Argentina appear to be confident enough of their progression that Diego Maradona might even ring the changes for his sides game with Greece.

Javier Mascherano, Walter Samuel, and Jonas Guttierez are all certain to miss out. The latter is suspended, the former is on yellow and won't be risked and Samuel is injured for the game. Carlos Tevez and tournament top scorer Gonzalo Higuain are also expected to be replaced by Sergio Aguero and Diego Milito as el Diego does his best to keep all his superstars happy.

One superstar forward set to play is Leo Messi, who has been the orchestrator of everything positive Argentina have done thus far. Their two victories would not have been so emphatic without him.

Even a draw will give the Argies top spot and a potential second round clash with Mexico in a repeat of four years ago, but a victory seems more likely against a Greek team that will probably need a win to progress. A lot of space should therefore be handed to Argentina's attacking quartet of the aforementioned three and Angel di Maria.

Greece did well to turn around the game with Nigeria, scoring their first World Cup goals and pints in the process. The sending off clearly helped their cause and raised their spirits but taking the game to the opposition has never been a strength of Otto Rehhagel's team. They will be delighted to even have this opportunity and if they can pull off a victory their place in the last 16 will be well deserved.  

That position should go to South Korea though. The performed with a pace and intent that neither Greece nor Nigeria have shown when they beat Greece on day two of the tournament. They retreated back into their shell against Argentina but if they return to the strategy that saw the red devils pick up three points they should beat a disheartened Nigeria team.

Nigeria will qualify if Greece fail to pick up a point and they can beat Korea by two goals. Not an insurmountable ambition but performances so far suggest it might just be beyond them. The Super Eagles have been reasonably impressive going forward, especially when Peter Odemwingie and Kalu Uche are on the pitch, but at the back there are goals there for the taking. If not for the heroics of goalkeeper Enyeama, the Africans goal difference would be so bad they'd be already out. If they can assert some physical dominance over the fit Koreans and score first, then they may have a chance.

The proposition of a second round tie with Uruguay should be enough motivation any team needs. The South Americans have been impressive but they won't be feared by any of the three vying for second place in Group B. A point should be enough for South Korea to progress with Argentina and they have appeared the most determined thus far to reach the next stage of the World Cup.  

1. Argentina
2. South Korea
3. Greece
4. Nigeria

Probable teams:

Argentina (4-2-3-1): Romero; Otamendi, Burdisso, Demichelis, Rodriguez; Bolatti, Veron; Messi, Aguero, Di Maria; Milito.

Greece (4-5-1): Tzvoras; Seitaridis, Kyrgiakos, Torosidis, Vyntra; Ninis, Tziolis, Karagounis, Katsouranis, Salpingidis; Gekas.

South Korea (4-4-2): Jung S-R; Oh B-S, Cho Y-H, Lee J-S, Lee Y-P; Park J-S, Kim J-W, Ki S-Y, Lee C-Y; Park C-Y, Yeom K-H.

Nigeria (4-3-3): Enyeama; Odiah, Yobo, Shittu, Taiwo; Etuhu, Haruna, Yussuf; Uche, Yakubu, Odemwingie.