Australia 2-1 Serbia
The second set of games of the day were no less thrilling – four teams, all of whom were still capable of advancing. The biggest surprise was Australia who, as with South Africa yesterday played as if it was possible for them to make up a four-goal deficit. Contrast that with Algeria, who preferred to lay down and let the United States come at them all game, and that’s why every member of the Algerian delegation is now on my Christmas card list.
Marco Pantelic’s goal in the 84th minute effectively killed the Aussies’ chances, and it also gave Serbia a lifeline back into the tournament, because a second goal would have gotten Serbia through on goal differential. As a result, the most exciting game in Group D was by two teams that got diddley squat for all their efforts.
Ghana v. Germany was as good a game as you could have hoped for between two leaders, with Germany playing to win regardless of the other result and Ghana looking to score on the counter. Either Germany didn’t want to face us or they really wanted to face their longtime nemesis England. But once news of Australia’s two goals hit Johannesburg and both teams essentially assured of going through, the game lost a lot of its momentum.
Predictions against results: Germany did what was expected. As much as I’ve made fun of Australia, they showed that they can make a game of it if they keep all their players on the field.
Matchday 14 Previews
Slovakia v. Italy
Italy haven’t looked very good in their first two games. Thankfully for them, neither have Slovakia. I don’t expect them to put up a serious challenge.
Prediction: Italy 2, Slovakia 0
Paraguay v. New Zealand
I would so love New Zealand to qualify but, like North Korea against Brazil, or Algeria against England, they saved their best performance for the Italy and won’t have anything left. Paraguay are too composed to let it slip away like this.
Prediction: Paraguay 1, New Zealand 0
Denmark v. Japan
Boring and technical against fast and methodical. I’ll choose boring.
Prediction: Denmark 1, Japan 0
Cameroon v. Netherlands
With Ghana advancing, Cameroon no longer have to feel the sting of being a highly rated African team that disappointed here and can now just enjoy playing the game. It won’t help.
Prediction: Netherlands 2, Cameroon 0