Both teams need just a draw to qualify for the next round of the grandest stage of football. One can expect the sides to go into the game with the strategy of parking the bus so as not to concede a goal, claim a point each, and go home satisfied, although the spectators will probably be dissatisfied with such a kind of encounter.
However, this match might actually not follow the above formula, as there is more at stake than just qualification to the next round. The second placed team might probably end up facing the high flying Argentines in the round of 16. Currently Uruguay lead the table over Mexico on superior goal difference; though France are deemed to be out of the group stages, there remains a mathematical possibility of the Les Blues proceeding to the next round.
Mexico’s world cup start was marked by confusion regarding their young prodigy Giovanni Dos Santos’s mindset, and the controversy surrounding the coach Aguirre’s decisions. But once they started playing, they have been growing from strength to strength as the tournament progressed. A drab draw against the hosts on the opening day, which they almost lost, can be understood to be a case of nerves. Their clinical victory over a hapless French side was some of the most enterprising football played in the tournament so far. A young core squad with great experienced players guiding the youngsters is an ideal mix for ant team.
While Mexico have match winners in Dos Santos, Rafael Marquez, Franco and Blanco on their side, the South Americans have a strike force who have been in great form and running riot in the opposition penalty box – Diego Forlan and Luiz Suarez.
Uruguay started off their 2010 World Cup campaign with a draw against France, and followed up with a victory over the host, with Diego Forlan’s magic taking over the proceedings. They are on a roll, and on paper, this game looks like a battle of the equals, with the best expected result being a draw.
Let the Battle of the Americas begin, and may the better team win. With both the teams in good touch, one can expect a glut of goals in this encounter.
A draw will allow both teams to qualify from Group A, with Uruguay playing the second placed team in group B and Mexico playing Argentina in the next round.
A win for Mexico by a difference of 5 goals or more means Mexico tops the group. Unless France beat South Africa, Uruguay will go to the next round as the second placed team.
A win for Uruguay means they go on top, with Mexico finishing second in the group. If Uruguay wins with a difference of four goals, then France has a mathematical possibility of qualifying.
(1) Head to Head: 17 games, 7 wins for Mexico and 3 wins for Uruguay, with 7 Matches ending in a draw.
(2) Mexico have qualified for the knockout stages in the last 5 World Cup editions.
(3) Uruguay have not qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup for the past 20 years.
(4) Uruguay have not conceded a goal so far in this tournament
Player To Watch Out For: Luiz Suarez (Uruguay)
He has not yet opened his scoring for Uruguay so far, but with the kind of season he has had off late, he is expected to score any time. The support provided by his team mate and the striker in form Diego Forlan will only improve the odds of him scoring now than later in the tournament.
This match is almost a dead rubber in the tournament, unless the already non-existent French teamwork does the trick for them. The question in everyone’s mind before this game is not whether France will qualify for the next round, but whether their team will play in this match, and what can be expected if the Les Blues do participate.
France wouldn’t have even been in South Africa, if not for a controversial goal courtesy their top striker Thierry Henry. Even here, they didn’t capitalize on an easy group, and now are on the brink of elimination, with a remote chance of qualification possible.
After all the media furore over France’s qualification, France didn’t let down the media yet again last week, with news of team unrest emerging. Then the news of Anelka’s substitution in the Mexico game materializing because he had insulted their manager Ray Domenech with the choicest of words, which French football fans around the world have always wanted to say to Domenech, made the headlines. The very next day Anelka was sent home, and the morning after that, a video of the French unrest is all over the Internet. A spy angle is added to the story, and the media has a field day, while the players refuse to train and express their concerns about Domenech. How will the French fans react to the controversy on and off the pitch? Only time will answer, but the consensus is on the hopes of having an entertaining match on the field, far away from all the circus off-field.
The Bafana Bafana, the lowest ranked nation in the current World Cup, nearly clinched a win in their first game, with Rafael Marquez sparing Mexico the blushes. However, they succumbed to the tricks of Diego Forlan in the next match, giving little to cheer for the home fans. Now the hosts are playing for pride against a French team which is in total disarray – the ideal setting for a win in front of the home fans. Under the experienced coach Carlos Alberto Perreira’s tutelage, a win against the French doesn’t look impossible under the current circumstances.
The other important thing which irks French fans is Domenech’s puzzling decisions to put Thierry Henry on the bench in both the matches. That Gignac was selected ahead of him in the Mexico game proves the depth in the French Attack and the nature of selection under Domenech. In Anelka’s absence, Barcelona’s Thierry Henry is expected to start the match for France, which might eventually be his last match for the Les Bleus. Also missing is suspended Olympique Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.
Whatever happens in this tournament in South Africa will remain an important event in the history of South African football and a black mark in the history of French football. The French fans will be hoping against hope that their team can put in a good performance, just to prove Domenech wrong.
A Draw means both teams will be out of the World Cup, granting Uruguay and Mexico free passage to the next round.
For France or South Africa to qualify, they have to win their encounter by a huge goal margin. France need a 4 goal lead, while for the Bafana Bafana the margin is 5 goals; both cases seem highly unlikely considering the form, strength and weaknesses of both the squads in this World Cup.
(1) Head to Head: 3 Games, 2 wins for France and 1 match ending in a draw.
Player To Watch Out For: Thierry Henry (France)
With the French team in shambles and the match being most probably his last game in the World Cup or even in the national team colors, the
striker might be extra motivated to end this dismal performance at South Africa with a consolation win.
This match will decide the team which will finish second in the group table, which means it is imperative to secure all three points. Nigeria have been trying hard to hit form in a bid to progress to the next stage, with almost all the African teams on the brink of exiting the tournament. The Super Eagles still have a great chance of achieving this goal, depending on the result of the other Group B Match between Argentina and Greece.
Considering the hunger and the open and attacking style with which the Asian giants South Korea have been playing, fans will be assured of the prospect of a mouth-watering clash.
The hard working South Korea just needs a draw out of this game to qualify to the next round, if the Argentina-Greece match results are in their favor. After being on the wrong side of a Higuain Hat-trick, they can expect Greece to be steam rolled by a rollicking Argentina. The Koreans suffered from poor passing and ball possession during the Argentina game; but with the big game now out of their way, they just need to strategize their match and avoid a defeat at the hands of Nigeria.
The goal difference for Greece and Korea are the same as of now, so their performance in the third Group B games will have a huge impact on the result. Also Nigeria have a goal difference of -2, just one goal less than Korea and Greece; a Nigeria win combined with a Greece loss will surely guarantee Nigeria to be the first African team to enter the round of sixteen.
With all the Asian teams failing to deliver yet again in a World Cup, Korea will be interested in rewriting history. Also the prospect of facing either Mexico or Uruguay in the next round, provided France will not defeat the hosts by a 5 goal margin or more, might open up opportunities for this team to qualify further in the tournament.
Korea will be expecting their captain and Manchester United star, Park Ji Sung, so step up to the occasion and take the team closer to next round. The Korean team’s discipline is evident in their caution count and the number of suspensions, which is zero so far. Whether the Nigerians can break open this disciplined team will remain a question mark, but with players like Uche in form and Taiwo expected to return, a rejuvenated African side could fulfill the hopes of an entire continent.
A draw means Nigeria will have one point and South Korea will have four points. So for Korea to qualify, Argentina must beat Greece. If the match between Argentina and Greece is a draw, then the Asians need a higher goal difference to qualify.
If South Korea wins the game they qualify regardless of Greece’s result. But if Greece wins then, all first three teams in the group will have six
points each, and goal difference will decide which teams proceed to the next round.
If Nigeria wins the game and Greece loses the game to Argentina, Nigeria will qualify due to the goal difference. If Greece wins against Argentina, then Greece goes through and Nigeria and South Korea will be eliminated.
So as per current scenario and team form and quality of the opposition on paper, either South Korea or Nigeria will qualify at the expense of Greece.
(1) Head to Head: 3 games, 2 wins for Nigeria and 1 draw. Nigeria have scored 5 goals in these games, with Korea’s tally being 3.
(2) Korea need a draw and hope for Greece to lose to Argentina for qualifying to the next stage of the tournament.
(3) All of Africa will be hoping for Nigeria to win and qualify for the next round, as they have the easiest opportunity to qualify from the entire African contingent.
Player To Watch Out For: Park Ji Sung (Korea Republic)
To carry the team forward to the knockout stages, Park needs to give more than 100% of his efforts against an African team with a 12th player in the home supporters backing them – a tough ask, but there is no better stage than this match to prove his quality.
After starting their World Cup campaign on a disastrous note with a loss to Korea Republic, which was branded as a Greek tragedy, the Greeks recovered to overcome a strong African opposition Nigeria to give them a backdoor entry into the next round of the World Cup. But as luck would have it, they have a major obstacle in the form of an Argentine team which has been terrorizing opposition defenses and scoring goals for fun.
The Greeks have already made history by winning their first World Cup match in all their World Cup participations, but this is insufficient in the grander scheme of things. They have their task cut out now; only a win can grant them entry to the next round. The Greek will be hoping their top players like Gekas and Charisteas click in this match, as the possibility of a defeat looms large.
The Current form of Argentina has transformed them from being rank outsiders before the start of the tournament to being one of the favorites to win the World Cup. Now that they have qualified to the Round of sixteen, will Maradona test his bench strength or will he continue with the winning combination? Will the Highly rated Pastore get a nod in this game? Will Maradona go back to his unpredictable ways? There are too many questions which no one can answer. One change which Maradona would be expected to make is to play Nicolas Otamendi instead of Demichelis, who has been woeful with either Samuel or Burdisso in defense; this dead rubber is the best chance for Argentina to test Otamendi.
This will be a game between the Greek defense and counter attacking game against an Argentine Strike force which oozes class, quality and flair.
A Draw in this match means Greece will depend on the Nigeria-South Korea results. If South Korea wins, then the Greeks are out of the World Cup. But if Nigeria wins, then Greece will be through to the next round of the World Cup.
A win for Argentina means the Greece National team can pack their bags.
A win for Greece might throw up many different situations for each team to qualify. If Nigeria win in the other game, then Greece and Argentina qualify. If the Nigeria-Korea match ends in a draw, still the Greeks qualify to the next round along with Argentina. If South Korea win the next game and Greece wins, then goal difference will play a bigger role in determining which team goes through to the next round.
(1) Head to Head: 1 Game, 1 win for Argentina. Argentina Routed Greece with a 4- 0 victory in that match.
(2) Messi is yet to score in this World Cup
Player To Watch Out For: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
An ideal game for Messi to open his account in front of the goal. He has been outstanding for Argentina in creating opportunities for his team mates, when opponents double team or triple team him. Now that his team is almost into the next round, his mind will be free of tension, and he might be able to use this chance to get some shooting practice before the bigger games start in the next round.