Argentina 4-1 South Korea
Questions about whether or not Maradona could mold this offense into a cohesive unit were answered with another thrilling display. It helps when you get an early own goal and have Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez to make you look good. But South Korea exposed the weaknesses in Argentina’s defense with their speed,which threatened to make things close until Argentina’s third goal. They’re going to have to tighten up if they’re going to be taken seriously as contenders. Fortunately for the Group A winners, their back line will have plenty of time to regain confidence in their next game against Greece.
Prediction against result: I was all ready to curse Martin Dimichelis for the lapse that led to Korea’s goal. Then, Gonzalo Higuain put on a display of poaching that absolved him.
Greece 2-1 Nigeria
The traditionally defensive-minded Greece were having problems creating chances even after Nigeria’s goal in the 16th minute threatened to eliminate them from the World Cup. Then Sani Kaita had to go Beckham circa 1998 on Vasilis Torosidis and give them a lifeline back into the tournament. Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had another great match until he failed to hold on to the ball that Torosidis put in for the winner. Nigeria aren’t done. A two-goal victory against South Korea can see them through if Argentina doesn’t take it easy on Greece. But it’s not looking good for the Super Eagles’ chances right now.
Prediction against result: The biggest cliche at the World Cup is that a game can change in an instant. Kaita’s lash at Torisidis was just that for my prediction.
France v. Mexico
Even if their first goal should have been called back for offside, there could be no argument with the penalty that killed France. Besides, it was karma for Thierry Henry’s handball back in the playoffs. All game long, the boos directed at France were drowning out the vuvuzelas. Mexico played hard and physical, unafraid to foul, and countered effectively. In other words, they played exactly like the United States did against them in the 2002 World Cup (and criticized us for). All that was missing for William Gallas to play Rafael Marquez to Cuauhtemoc Blanco’s Cobi Jones.
Prediction against result: This is being called an upset, but I had Mexico winning, even if I thought it would only be 1-0.
Matchday 8 Previews
Germany v. Serbia 7:30 AM ET, ESPN
The least-eagerly anticipated matchup between these two nations since World War 1. The victor will be different, but the result – the end of Serbia – will be the same.
Prediction: Germany 2, Serbia 0
United States v. Slovenia, 10:00 AM ET, ESPN
This could be a difficult game for the United States because they don’t match up well against Eastern European teams with lots of size that play tough defense. Thankfully, Slovenia aren’t very good at it.
Prediction: United States 1, Slovenia 0
England v. Algeria, 2:30 AM ET, ESPN2
England need a big win to take control of the group and restore their wounded pride, but England rarely get big wins in tournaments. Thankfully for them, Algeria should be good for a late own goal.
Prediction: England 2, Algeria 0