FIFA World Cup 2010: Round of 16 Preview (Groups C and D)
The group stage of the 2010 World Cup is over for Groups C and D. There were exciting matches played during the final games for both groups, and now four teams are another step closer to hoisting the trophy.
The US advanced by beating Algeria when Landon Donovan scored the most important goal in Team USA's history.
England avoided a loss to Slovenia and advanced past the group stage, and has now advanced to the Round of 16 in 10 straight World Cup appearances.
Ghana took second place in Group D, and they are the second African team to advance past the group stage in consecutive World Cup appearances.
Germany grabbed the first place spot in Group D, after some shaky performances in group play.
The Knockout Round is where the games really matter, and now we have eight of the 16 teams determined for the second round of the tournament.
Here's a look at the four teams that advanced from Groups C and D, as well as a preview of their match-ups.
United States: First Place Group C
Group Record: 1-0-2
Group Results: 1-1 (England), 2-2 (Slovenia), 1-0 (Algeria)
Team USA dramatically earned its first win in the group stage against Algeria when Landon Donovan scored a goal in the 91st minute that Americans will never forget.
The game against Algeria was the first game in the group stage in which the US never trailed.
The US had to come from behind in both games prior to the Algeria match-up. But after a tie with England in the opener and a controversial goal being taken away, the Americans will go into the Knockout Round with just as much momentum as any team remaining.
They proved they can come from behind by earning draws in two games after trailing.
There is still issues that need to be addressed as the Americans move forward, but so far, they have been patient and resilient. They haven't blamed each other when things went wrong, and accountability is always a staple of any championship team.
As long as they can play together and fight for 90 minutes, the US will continue to win games in the elimination rounds.
Ghana: Second Place Group D
Group Record: 1-1-1
Group Results: 1-0 (Serbia), 1-1 (Australia), 0-1 (Germany)
Ghana has probably been the fastest team I've seen in the World Cup. This team zips up and down the field and takes a lot of shots.
Moving forward, the Ghanaians need to figure out how to score more goals. They do not have a problem shooting the ball, but they have struggled scoring.
The Black Stars scored two goals in three games and Asamoah Gyan scored both the goals on penalty kicks. However, led by captain John Mensah, Ghana has played solid defense and that is why they have advanced.
Ghana is the lone African team to advance in the cup and they will have added pressure to make a run during the elimination rounds.
United States vs. Ghana: Round of 16 Prediction
Team USA will come into this game riding the wave of momentum from the Algeria victory that won the group stage.
The US has had trouble scoring the ball, but Ghana’s shooting woes have been even worse.
Ghana may have somewhat of a home field advantage. As the only African team left in the tournament, the Black Stars will have support from many fans in attendance.
The Ghanaians will play a good, inspired game. But I think they will fall short against the Americans.
Ghana eliminated the US from the World Cup in 2006, but this time the Americans will come out on top.
This will not be a high scoring game, and it may be decided in extra time. The US will need to play stout defense against a fast Ghanain squad and not allow an early deficit.
Jozy Altidore has been playing as well as any American, even though he has not scored a goal. That will all change when the US faces Ghana.
Altidore can be the difference in the match if he plays physically, and I also believe this will be the game he scores his first goal of this World Cup.
Score Predicton: 2-1 (USA)
Man of the Match Prediction: Jozy Altidore
England: Second Place Group C
Group Record: 1-0-2
Group Results: 1-1 (United States), 0-0 (Algeria), 1-0 (Slovenia)
England was the favorite out of Group C when the tournament began, but back-to-back dismal performances by the Three Lions had many of its faithful questioning if there was turmoil within the team.
It was pretty bad for England early on; they had trouble scoring and they are still trying to figure out how to play their star Wayne Rooney.
Rooney has been trying to figure out how he can be more effective for the English team, and he has struggled throughout this World Cup. He has now gone eight straight international matches without a goal.
England will not advance if they rely on just one player. But the play of Rooney is significant for them and I think this squad will go as far as he takes them, regardless if he's scoring or not.
Germany: First Place Group D
Group Record: 2-1-0
Group Results: 4-0 (Australia), 0-1 (Serbia), 1-0 (Ghana)
Germany scored more goals in the group stage than any other team in Group D. But offense is not the only reason they took first place in their group.
The Germans also allowed only one goal in the group stage, which was the lowest of any team in Group D.
This team has a well-balanced attack and it has the star power to make a deep run in the elimination rounds. Many people had them advancing at least to the quarter-finals in this year's Cup.
The only way Germany will survive is to play more consistently. They rocked Australia in their group stage opener, but then lost to Serbia in the following match.
I'm not sure which Germany squad will show up to play during the knockout rounds, but if they can play well on both sides of the ball, they have the potential to be one of the best teams still standing.
England vs. Germany: Round of 16 Prediction
Germany has scored five goals in the World Cup with five different players. They have shown that they have no problems getting the ball to their playmakers.
England, on the other hand, has looked out of rhythm at times and I do not see them getting past this Germany team.
Although they were picked to make a run in this tournament, I think Germany collectively will play a better game than the English and advance to the quarter finals.
England has a lot of big names, but so does Germany.
Germany will continue to play selflessly and move the ball around.
Score Prediction: 3-1 (Germany)
Man of the Match Prediction: Lukas Podolski