World Cup’10 – Day 3: PREVIEW


ALGERIA
v
SLOVENIA
Group C
Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
13th June, 1700 IST
Referee: Pablo Pozo (Chile)

The battle of the minnows in Group C could prove decisive in terms of which teams progress to the next round. With games against England and USA to come, both Algeria and Slovenia would be battling hard to gain maximum points out of this encounter.

Algeria’s chances would largely depend upon their solid defense which was tough to break down during their qualifying campaign. Antar Yahia and Madjid Bougherra are pillars of strength that make Algeria a tough nut to crack. Coach Rabah Saadane has confirmed that out-of-form captain Yazid Mansouri will not start against the Slovenians, which is a major blow to the African side ahead of this crucial game.

Algeria's team takes a picture before their international friendly soccer match against the United Arab Emirates in Fuerth June 5, 2010. The players are Karim Ziani, Karim Matmour, Medhi Lacen, Yazid Mansouri, Nadir Belhadj (front, L-R), Faouzi Chaouchi, Rafik Halliche, Madjid Bougherra, Rafik Djebbour, Antar Yahia and Abdelkader Ghezzal (back, L-R). REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)
Are you watching, Egypt?

A poor run of recent form combined with injury troubles have resulted in a laboured 1-0 victory against lowly United Arab Emirates and a 3-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland in their final two warm-up matches. The African side must improve to get anything out of this game.

Slovenia, on the other hand, have done well in their only warm-up match prior to the tournament where they defeated a stubborn New Zealand 3-1.  Qualifying ahead of the much more fancied Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and Poland from a tough group proves that Slovenia could be the dark horses from Group C.

Similar to Algeria, Slovenia’s success heavily depends on their miserly defence which conceded only four goals in the qualifiers en-route to the playoff against Russia. Also, the lack of creative players means that the best chance of scoring comes through a set piece. The Slovenians will be hoping to do better than their last outing in a world cup in 2002 where an unbeaten qualifying run was followed by three defeats in the finals.

With both teams relying on their defences, will this game fail to produce goals or will the two managers take the necessary gamble to gain a vital three points?

Head-to-Head record: First meeting ever.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Algeria: Played 6 – Won 2, Drawn, 1 Lost, 3
Slovenia: Played 3 – Lost, 3

Other Key Facts:

(1) Sadaane was the manager of Algeria in the 1986 world cup too.
(2) Algeria has not kept a clean sheet in their last six matches.
(3) Slovenians have never won a match in an international tournament (lost four, drawn 2)
(4) Algeria are unbeaten in their two opening matches at a World Cup, beating West Germany 2-1 in 1982 and drawing 1-1 with Northern Ireland in 1986.

Player To Watch Out For: Milivoje Novakovic (Slovenia)
The 31 year old struck two beautiful free-kicks against New Zealand in the final warm-up game for Slovenia. His involvement in 10 of the 19 goals scored by Slovenia in the qualifiers proves that his form is crucial if they are to take a giant leap towards progressing to the knockout round.

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SERBIA
V
GHANA

Group D
Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Tshwane/Pretoria
13th June, 1930 IST
Referee: Hector Baldassi (Argentina)

Both teams will take on each other knowing that their qualification hopes will hinge upon the outcome of this game. Serbia will be determined to perform well in their first world cup as an independent nation, while Ghana will be hoping to take advantage of the support from the African crowd.

Serbia qualified to the world cup with ease as they topped a tricky group which had France, Romania and Austria as well. The white eagles have a solid back four which includes Man United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. They also have good options going forward led by former Valencia striker, the gigantic Nikola Zigic. Stankovic, Kuzmanovic and Krasic form an impressive midfield.

The Serbians have not been in the best form leading up to the world cup, winning just one of their three warm-up matches. A 4-3 victory against Cameroon was achieved after couple of poor outings against New Zealand and Poland.

PARIS - SEPTEMBER 10: Nemanja Vidic of Serbia during the FIFA 2010 Group Seven World Cup Qualifying match between France and Serbia at the Stade de France on September 10, 2008 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Man United’s Serbian defender – Vidic

Ghana would be hoping to do better than their performance four years ago, where they were outclassed by Brazil in the second round. Micheal Essien’s failure to recover from injury is a major blow to the chances of the Africans, but experienced players such as Stephen Appiah, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari could cause problems for the Serbians.

Ghana’s form in the recent games has not been good as they slumped to a 4-1 defeat against Netherlands which was followed by an unimpressive 1-0 win against minnows Latvia.

A win for either team throws them right into contention for the knockout stage. A draw, however, plays into the hands of Australia and Germany.

Head-to-Head record: 1-0 in favour of Serbia (then Yugosalavia)

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Serbia: Played 40: Won 16, Drawn 8, Lost 16
Ghana: Played 4: Won 2, Lost 2

Other Key Facts:

(1) Serbia scored seven goals from corners during qualifying.
(2) Ghana’s three wins at the African Cup of Nations this year were by a score of 1-0.
(3) Ghana had only a 7.4% goals-to-shot ratio in this year’s African Cup of Nations even though they reached the final
(4) Last WC meeting: None. This is their first ever meeting.

Player To Watch Out For: Milos Krasic (Serbia)
The talented midfielder has been linked to various top clubs in Europe after good performances for CSKA Moscow and Serbia U-21 team. He could be pivotal in unlocking a stern Ghana defense.

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GERMANY
V
AUSTRALIA

Group D
Durban Stadium, Durban
14th June, 2350 IST
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)

The perception of Germany being pre-tournament favorites is a thing of the past. All the players will be fighting hard to regain their old glory. Australia, on the other hand, will be looking to go further than their second-round performance in the previous World Cup. Both teams will be looking to get their campaign off to a good start in the “group of table toppers”.

The German team has been rocked by the injury to their captain and midfielder, Michael Ballack. The Chelsea man has failed to recover from the injury he suffered during the FA Cup final. Much will rest on the shoulders of newly appointed captain Phillip Lahm and his club team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger. With Podolski and Klose in woeful form in front of goal, Germany is expected to rely on their defense to carry them to the next round.

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Out of form German strikers!

The Germans have done well in the last two friendlies leading up to the tournament against Hungry and Bosnia–Herzegovina scoring six and conceding just one. They have a habit of doing well in big tournaments and their pre-tournament form could well be an indication.

On the other hand, Australia must be looking to get at least a point out of this game if they have to progress to the next round. Kewell and Emerton have been declared fit but lack match practice. Australia’s major weakness is in the striking department, where they might miss the services of Mark Viduka in front of goal.

The warm-up games have been a mixed bag for the Socceroos as they defeated New Zealand and Denmark but suffered a disappointing loss to the USA. Professionalism has always been an Australian culture, but will it be enough against the Germany efficiency?

Head-to-Head record: 2-0 in favour of Germany.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Germany: Played 92 : Won 55, Drawn 19, Lost 18
Australia: Played 7: Won 1, Drawn 2, Lost 4

Other Key Facts:

(1) Since USA ’94, Germany have won nine of their group stage matches, losing none.
(2) Four of the Socceroos’ five goals at Germany ‘06 came in the 79th minute or later.
(3) Last WC meeting: Germany 3-0 Australia in 1974.
(4) The German squad is the youngest in a World Cup for 76 years with average age of 26.

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Cahill is a menace inside the box!

Player To Watch Out For: Tim Cahill (Australia)
The scorer of Socceroos’ first two World Cup goals and a consistent performer for both club and country, Tim Cahill is a midfield dynamo. He is aggressive, feisty, gets between defenders and will fight to score a goal with any part of his body. Look out for his headers!

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  • albiceleste

    I guess these clashes will be mouth watering….I am eagerly anticipating the Serbia clash. Serbia looks like they have a golden generation this time and might even end up in the semis if they can get their players in form and all their stars gel into a team fast.

    Germany vs Australia can be competitive if it was a field hockey game…with the game soccer, I can expect a 2-0 win for the Germans.

  • The young but talented German team has schooled the Aussies.

    Brilliant performance.

  • Anyone else feel a little slighted with a 1-1 tie after all that buildup?

  • Nothing beats a tie

  • USA will play the runner up of Group D, everyone is alive in this group even Australia. I hope the Aussies get a win and advance

  • Rob

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