Saturday, June 26, 2010

Round of 16: On the Record for the World Cup

Now to the knockout stage.  Sixteen teams are left.  Italy, the 2006 champions, and France, the runners-up, are both home facing the wrath of their fans and vitriol of the media.  Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands all won their respective groups as expected.  Uruguay, the U.S. and Paraguay are the other, somewhat surprising, group winners.  The rest of the participants generally followed expected form.

Here are the match-ups and my first two predictions:

Uruguay v. South Korea:  

Uruguay has played as well as anyone thus far, but by being drawn with the host, Mexico and France it turned out that they had a really easy road.  They ripped South Africa and played a great match against Mexico.  They have yet to concede a goal.  They are more dangerous upfront than most realize.  This is a really good team.

South Korea is fun to watch both because they score goals and they give them up.  They've given up more goals than any team that got through the group stage.  I really want to pick them to win this one because they are fun to watch and I think the US matches up reasonably well with them.  They must score the first goal to win this one.

But it isn't going to happen.  First goal wins.  1-0 Uruguay.

United States v. Ghana

The Americans looked really good against Algeria.  I assume they will stay with the personnel changes they made in that game and come out with the almost the exact same line-up.  The only change I expect is Herculez Gomez will start on the bench today and Edson Buddle will likely take his place up front next to Jozy Altidore.  Expect to see Gomez in the 75th minute, maybe earlier if the side is behind.  The most interesting thing about the U.S. side is that they have been better attacking than defending.  That makes for exciting football, but it isn't a good style for winning tournaments.

Ghana is a skilled, phyisical side but they but really have trouble in front of goal.  The Black Stars have only scored twice, both from the penalty spot.  Their 1-0 win over Serbia in their opening match proved to be the difference in seeing them through to the knockout stage.  They were also responsible for sending the U.S. home at the 2006 World Cup, defeating the Yanks 2-1.

A reversal of fortune this afternoon.  It will be fun to watch the boys play with a lead.  They've done it for a total of two minutes through the first three games.  United States 2  Ghana 0.

1 comment:

pinto said...

I think the next US captain needs to be a central defender that can lead a pack of four in the back....please, pretty can't win big time FIFA tournaments without a solid defense. Spain has made that very clear with its performance the last several decades (maybe Hierro days excluded, but even then they were allowing too many in the net in WC play...)