World Cup‘10 – Day 8: PREVIEW

Group D
Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth
18 June,  1700 hours IST (+0530 GMT)

Already one of the toughest groups on paper, just got tougher after the first round of matches. Germany and Serbia, the two teams favored by most to come through, had vastly contrasting starts to their world cup campaign. While Germany silenced any doubters of their pedigree to go all the way, the Serbs were found wanting.

Zdravko Kuzmanovic’s calamitous hand ball gifted the Ghanaians victory in a match that Serbia would have been expected to win. Now, they are confronted with a task of herculean proportion, but one which they can ill afford to lose.

Germans, on the other hand, blew away the challenge posed by the Socceroos with utter disdain. Their performance has sent shock waves through the rest of challenging pack and now, Germany is seen as one of the favourites .The Germans played an attacking brand of football with Bastian Schweinsteiger playing deeper than usual, giving them license to control the flow of the game.

The 4-3-3 deployed by Joachim Löw is fluid and pleasing to the eye and with Mesut Ozil pulling strings from midfield, things are looking brighter than ever before. Miroslav Klose has an uncanny knack of saving his best for the world stage and the trend looks to be continuing. Klose scored his 11th World Cup goal, which ties him with Jurgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis as the fifth top-scorer in World Cup history.

Serbia’s best chance to upstage the efficient Germans would be by absorbing long periods of German pressure and then hitting them on the counter attack. Serbians would do well to provide more of the ball to their wing wizard Milos Krasic, who was starved of any service for long periods during the game against Ghana. Krasic is one man with genuine guile and pace to trouble Germany and provide service to Serbia’s giant striker, Nikola Zigic – the Birmingham-bound striker is the tallest player at this year’s world cup.

Germany, on the other hand, would love to continue from where they left against the Aussies and provide yet another reminder that “Ze Germans” bring their ‘A game’ into the world events. But it could be much tougher this time around with the spot lights turned on and the world expecting yet another rout. It’s easy being underdogs and a totally different ball game being favorites. Just ask Spain.

World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Germany: Played 93, Won 56, Lost 18, Drawn 19
Serbia: Played 1, Won 0, Lost 1, Drawn 0

Other key facts:
1) Klose becomes sixth German player to score at three straight World Cups.
2) Serbia lost their first game, interestingly German is one of the only 3 teams to reach the finals after losing their first game.

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Team Germany on a roll...

Player (Battle) to watch out for:
Vidic(Ser) vs Klose(Ger)
The aerial dual between the two giants is going to be a heavy tussle and could very well swing the game in their respective country’s favour. While Klose is one of the strongest headers in the game, Vidic is one of the toughest centre-backs in the world.


Group C
Ellis Park, Johannesburg
18 June,  1930 hours IST (+0530 GMT)

Two goal-keeping howlers, albeit in two separate games have gifted Slovenia the pole position in group C. But the party might be over for them soon as they take on USA in a match that the North Americans would be desperate to win, following their draw against England and Slovenia’s win. Slovenia, on the other hand, would be counting their lucky stars as they find themselves in an enviable position – a win and they would be in the round of 16.

USA were second best for large periods of the first half against Capello’s men but Green’s howler helped them regain parity. Bob Bradley’s men looked more assured in the second half and could have snatched a win had Josy Altidore finished off his brilliant run behind England’s fumbling back-line. But the US would be more than pleased with a solitary point as with relatively easier games ahead, they would be fancying their chances of qualifying. With England also likely to beat the other two competitors in their group, it could come down to goal difference to decide who tops the group.

Slovenia, on the other hand, wouldn’t be contemplating all that. They would be absolutely delighted if they avoid defeat and anything better would obviously be a bonus. Despite wining against Algeria, the performance was far from convincing. The Slovenians showed next to no intent of attacking and were more than happy to sit back. By all means, one can expect this trend to continue.

Matjaz Kek’s men have history in their sight, but if they concede early, their ultra defensive tactics might have to give way. Whether the Slovenian’s have a plan B in mind would be interesting to observe if they do go down. Robert Koren would be again looked upon to  to guide his team through this tough challenge.

The battle between the Slovenian backline and the US marksmen Altidore along with ever reliable team-mates, in Dempsey and Donovan, would be intriguing. The Slovenian defense has been the foundation of their success and guided them through their tough qualifying group, conceding just four goals in the process. Milivoje Novakovic would be looked upon by his countrymen to bring some spark in their offensive play as he is their leading and most experienced striker.

World Cup Head to Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Slovenia: Played 4, Won 1, Lost 3, Drawn 0
USA: Played 26, Won 6 Lost 16, Drawn 4

Other key facts:
1) The three matches between Slovenia and teams from the CONCACAF zone have produced 13 goals.
The USA have kept just one clean sheet in 20 World Cup matches since keeping a shutout against England in 1950.
In their last match against Algeria, Slovenia won their first-ever match at an international tournament.

June 13, 2010 - 06027016 date 12 06 2010 Copyright imago BPI USA license Restriction A Use by Isi Photos USA team Group Photo PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men World Cup National team international match Rustenburg long shot Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd Football.

The men from USA eyeing a win

Player to watch out for:
Landon Donovan (USA)

The American captain has been the the face of US football for years. Donovan could prove to be the spark that can unlock the dogged Slovenian defense.




Group C
Green Point, Cape Town
18 June, 2350 hours IST (+0530 GMT)

England fans all over the world are demanding a response after that tame display against the US. The performance was lacklustre, and at times, bordered at awful. England lost a lot more than two points against Bob Bradley’s team; they lost one half of their center-back pairing in Ledley king, who has since been ruled out of the world cup.

Robert Green might yet be retained but another goof up could mean an early exit for England. But to spot a silver lining, USA were presumably their toughest test in the group stage. Gareth Barry has been declared fit and would walk straight in to the starting x1. His presence was surely missed in the opening match and he could very well be the shield that protects that rather shaky looking defense. Algerians had a disastrous start to their campaign as they were undone by a Green-esque howler, themselves.

Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi followed Robert Green’s lead as he gifted Slovenia precious three points. Their defensive mindset might well be exposed against better opposition in the form of England. Offensively too, the African nation lacked any real penetration. Nadir Belhadj, though, was a bundle of energy and provided some much-needed penetration to the Algerian attacks. With King out, it’s a straight toss-up between Liverpool’s Carragher and Tottenham’s Dawson, and Carragher is likely to get the nod.

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Rooney – feeling the heat!

More pressing issues remain in the middle of the park. Barry’s recovery means he would be taking up his position of guarding the back-line and with captain Gerrard and Lampard also favorites to start, that leaves just one spot in midfield. Lennon might just hang on to his place on the right wing, but his explosive performance lacked the final ball against the US. England’s talisman Wayne Rooney was starved of any service of note and his frustration could boil over if things don’t turn for the better.

World Cup Head to Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats: Algeria: Played 6, Won 2, Lost 3, Drawn 1 England: Played 56, Won 25 Lost 13, Drawn 18

Other key facts:
Algeria are the only team to have ever won two group stage matches at a World Cup and still fail to make it to the next round, doing so in 1982. 
England have never lost against an African team – 11 wins and 4 draws. 
England’s last five goals at World Cups have been scored by midfielders, three by Gerrard.
Wayne Rooney has failed to score in back-to-back competitive matches for England for the first time since March 2007

Player to watch out for: Wayne Rooney (England)
‘Boy Wayne’ needs to stand up now and be counted, as England look for inspiration from their talismanic striker. Algeria look like they are ‘there for taking’ and goals should pour-in as the three lions look to overcome the disappointing result against USA.

47 Responses to “World Cup‘10 – Day 8: PREVIEW”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Serbia and Germany could be a classic, must win for Serbia.

  2. goofy says:

    rooting for Slovenia.. 1 more good day in the office and a pre quarter to look forward to :)

  3. Prathap says:

    Come on Rooney…show the magic.