Sure, we know Brazil and Chile are automatically headed to the second round of the World Cup mathematically, but Tuesday marked the day that we KNOW who gets the first and second seed coming out of Groups A and B. We know that Africa as a continent has scored a total of 10 points and that Ghana is the only African nation with hopes (that are alive) to make it out of the group play. We know that old guys still have game, that Maradona must be doing something right, and that 75% of the U.S.’ population who are currently watching will cease their visual participation if the U.S. doesn’t advance tomorrow. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and it’s time to recap today’s games.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana are headed for the bus but at least they don’t have to travel far, and they won’t be going home alone after their 2-1 defeat of the fading team from France. Maybe the Irish were praying hard or God just doesn’t like cheaters (I’m joking, folks) but the French saga is over (or at least should be outside of France) for the World Cup. Whatever their deal was while they were on African soil, the French didn’t break their “A” game, and a repeat of their advance to the championship game died early. The South African team goes down as the first in World Cup history to fail to advance out of the first round on their home soil, but no one was surprised, soccer-wise.
That result, simultaneously played, cemented that both Mexico and Uruguay would advance, even as Uruguay won that game 1-0. With quite a bit more drama, Nigeria played South Korea in the night cap, parallel to the game between Argentina and Greece. It was amusing listening to the commentators try to keep up with the scenarios through which the different teams would advance. I guess mathematically, it could’ve been Greece and South Korea if they had both won, but it always felt like Argentina played loose, from the driver’s seat. Having swept the group, Argentina heads into the second round to play Mexico (Uruguay gets South Korea). Thankfully, Argentina and Greece combined for a mere 23 fouls, the lowest I’ve seen called to date and no one was sent off. Part of Greece’s problem is that they may not have taken any shots on goal… but I’m just saying.
Both sets of games on Wednesday bear watching as the water is quite muddy, and the top two teams will play each other (1C vs 2D, 1D vs 2C) but none of that is set. The U.S.’ best chance of getting through is to beat Algeria, solidfying that they would be in whether Slovenia or England wins. If both the U.S. and England win, then the seeding would depend on who scores more goals. If Slovenia beats England, they are the number one seed out of the group regardless but as long as the U.S. at least ties (with the Slovenian win), then the U.S. would advance. Either way, the winners of Group C would end up facing some combination of Ghana, Germany, and Serbia with Ghana currently leading by a point over the other two.