Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whose World? What Cup? (Day 12a)

And here we go, into one of the World Cup groups with the least tension ever... we all know Argentina will qualify unless Greece stage a great upset and beat them heavily, but who will be runner-up in that group? If Nigeria beat South Korea and Greece lose (as currently expected), the West Africans will go through to the next round, there to meet Uruguay.

Can Greece win, though? It certainly looks beyond them. On a fortunate occasion, Greece could beat either of the other sides (and actually have, in Nigeria's case). But against an in-form Argentina, it looks unlikely; Argentina have been effective enough so far, and look to be getting more so.

Can Greece even qualify? Yes, if they do better than South Korea; that is, they have to win if South Korea draw, draw if South Korea lose, and not lose themselves.

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At half-time, the scores are 0-0 between Argentina and Greece, 1-1 between Nigeria and South Korea. In the latter game, the Asians are using their lower centre of gravity to good effect, physically out-manoeuvring the taller Africans by changing direction and nipping into space faster. Nigeria scored first, though — they are faster in straight lines given time to accelerate, and a direct cross into the box resulted in a goal.

Meanwhile, I think Argentina is displaying a certain lack of cohesion; they have many options and much talent, and aren't being very accurate or responsive to each other. Greece, on the other hand, has one simple strategy — get the ball behind the two isolated central defenders, break the offside trap and score. It might work, since it doesn't seem to require so much brain power.

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Well, Nigeria and South Korea redoubled their efforts, with predictable results: 2-2 at full time. South Korea go through because Argentina found their extra gear and strolled out 2-0 winners over Greece in the last 10 minutes of their game. And Messi still hasn't scored!

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