Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup 2010: Breaking Down the Groups- Part 2

Well, I didn't exactly set the world on fire with my first set of picks (although I did get USA and England right). Here's hoping for better luck in part two of my group stage breakdown, taking a look at Groups E-H.

Group E
Standings: Holland- 6 points, +3 goal differential; Japan- 3 pts., E; Denmark- 3 pts. -1; Cameroon- 0 pts., -2
Match-ups: Holland vs. Cameroon; Japan vs. Denmark
The situation: Having both posted wins over Cameroon, Japan and Denmark face-off for second-place. While Denmark are the sharper side, Japan have the advantage of advancing with a draw. Barring a highly unlikely set of scores, Holland will top the group regardless of their match with Cameroon.
Prediction: The only group to advance two European teams will see Holland take first, followed by Denmark.

Group F
Standings: Paraguay- 4 pts., +2; Italy- 2 pts., E; New Zealand- 2 pts., E; Slovakia- 1 pt., -2
Match-ups: Paraguay vs. New Zealand; Italy vs. Slovakia
The situation: Despite a pair of lackluster draws, Italy need to only a win in their final match to move on to the knockout phases. But their struggles have allowed Paraguay to seize control of the group; a win over New Zealand will see the South American outfit claim the top spot, and a tie sees them through as well.
Prediction: The Kiwis magic runs out as Paraguay takes first, followed by Italy. The results mean Holland face Italy in the Round of 16.

Group G
Standings: Brazil- 6 pts., +3; Portugal- 4 pts., +7; Ivory Coast- 1 pt., -2; North Korea- 0 pts., -8
Match-ups: Brazil vs. Portugal; Ivory Coast vs. North Korea
The situation: While not technically eliminated, there's no way Ivory Coast are making up nine goals on Portugal. So with Brazil and Portugal assured of going through, it should lead to an open, entertaining match to determine group supremacy. Even with Kaka suspended following an absurd sending off, the world's top ranked team have shown no indication that they'll drop a match here.
Prediction: Brazil stay unbeaten, with Portugal taking second.

Group H
Standings: Chile- 6 pts., +2; Spain- 3 pts., +1; Switzerland- 3 pts., E; Honduras- 0 pts., -3
Match-ups: Chile vs. Spain; Switzerland vs. Honduras
The situation: Chile may sit a top the group with six points, but their position is far from safe. Their failure to improve on a 1-0 scoreline against a weak Honduras side and a Swiss squad that played a man down for much of the match may be their undoing with the goal differential tiebreaker. With Spain and Switzerland both favored, we may see three teams finish with six points. The odd men out would be the first team ever not to reach the knockout stages with five or more points.
Prediction: A win for Spain puts them top of the group, setting up an all-Iberian showdown with Portugal. The punchless Swiss can only manage a draw against Honduras and Chile takes second.

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