17 June 2010

World Cup 2010, Match Day 7

This is a surprise?First, via Ann Bartow at Madisonian, the FIFA Unofficial Soundtrack for the 2010 World Cup!

Groups A and B completed their first two matches for all teams today.

Argentina 4:1 South Korea — somebody substituted zombies for the South Korean team; their lack of movement and just-a-few-beats-slow thinking resulted in numerous needless free kicks to Argentina, and they even started the scoring off one... via a South Korea own goal. Argentina is not mathematically guaranteed of making the knockout rounds, but it's pretty close to doing so; a draw in the Greece:Nigeria match later on will put Maradonut's team through. All of that said, Argentina didn't look a whole lot more invested in the match than did South Korea, continuing the effort to make the match into small, training-ground maneuvers... which will prove extremely frustrating to them against an athletic, organized defense, which (ironically enough) is what South Korea usually brings to a match. Again, the officials were largely invisible in a good way: The many free kicks given to Argentina were not "soft," but actual fouls. B+/C+/A-

Greece 2:1 Nigeria — The turning point of this match is the silly, stupid, needless red card for striking out at an opponent earned by Nigeria's Sani Kaita after a silly foul and a bit of provocation and gamesmanship on the sideline. This wasn't even an excessively vociferous tackle... it was even more petulant than Beckham's 1998 red card for retaliating against Argentina's Diego Simeone. Nigeria at least did not go into a purely defensive shell; and this was definitely an improvement for Greece over its first match! B/B/B+

So that leaves Group B looking like this, with one match remaining for each team:

Argentina 6 +4
Republic of [South] Korea 3 –1
Greece 3 –1
Nigeria 0 –2

which could lead to some very interesting tiebreakers indeed if Argentina (as expected) defeats Greece, and Nigeria defeats South Korea... since the difference at this moment is that South Korea has scored one more goal than has Greece! Argentina has not mathematically ensured its advance to the knockout rounds, but its superior goal difference allows quite a bit of leeway even if it does lose to Greece.

France 0:2 Mexico — I hate agreeing with Frenchmen, but at least this one is an Algerian Frenchmen. As Zinedine Zidane said earlier this week, the French team has no teamwork. Mexico did not win this match; France threw it away. A disciplined motion offense with plenty of movement off the ball would have destroyed the Mexican defense, but the French couldn't manage discipline, motion, or offense (remember those old tabletop hockey games with players moving only in slots, controlled by a lever? that would have been an improvement over the French offense). A fitting seventieth anniversary for the French (as the Arabic-language commentator on ESPN3 implied). Perhaps the first goal was offside (it was a close call, but the rule is to give the attacker the benefit of a close call), but the officials never let the match get out of control, and there was no real question about the penalty (despite the whingeing of one ESPN commentator). C-/B/A-

So that leaves Group A looking like this, with one match remaining for each team:

Uruguay 4 +3
Mexico 4 +2
France 1 –2
Republic of South Africa 1 –3

A draw between Uruguay and Mexico sends them both through. If Mexico wins, the winner between France and South Africa must win by a minimum of three goals to go through; four if Uruguay wins. I don't see it happening.