RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - What, you expected a photo of Frank Lampard? I'm staying as far away from England as I can. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
So today saw Uruguay finish first in Group A with a 1-0 win over Mexico, who took second. Mexico will face Argentina, whose 2-0 win over Greece knocked the Ethniki out of the World Cup--although if I'd known that one of their nicknames, at least according to Wikipedia, is Piratiko, or Pirate Ship, I would've cheered harder for Greece. Alas it is South Korea taking second to face Uruguay, which will make Aaron happy as he likes Tigers.
On to Group C, which is the group that nearly everyone reading this blog is most concerned about. Here are your standings, once again taken from the official FIFA site.
With two draws in two matches, the US look set to see the second round. With two goals against Slovenia, they've got more goals-for than England, so if both squads draw, it's the USA that goes through. Unless, of course, England and Slovenia play to a 3-3 draw. Or even a 2-2 draw, with US v Algeria at all nils. This is too complicated and makes my head hurt, so let's just leave it at the fact that everything is up in the air.
Robbie Findley misses the next match, but let's face it, he wasn't looking too swell in the last, so I don't think there are many US fans bemoaning his fate. It's been brought to my attention that yellows do not reset after the group stages, but rather after the Round of 16, so that big names won't miss the final. So Jay DeMerit and Steve Cherundolo should be very careful in this match. The USA are fortunate: Algeria won't be playing for a draw in this match--a win could put them through. They won't be as intent on defense as they were against England, and the US could likely exploit that.
Slovenia v England (ESPN2, 10am ET, 7am PT)
The entirety of Fabio Capello's strategy for the next match seems to be wearing all red, possibly to blind the Slovenians. Well, considering he's as pig-headed as they come, I guess we can't expect to see a different side take the field against Slovenia. Capello may be furious at John Terry, but considering Jamie Carragher earned himself a second yellow against Algeria, JT is almost certain to start, alongside Matthew Upson.
If Wayne Rooney flips his switch and, well, remembers how to play football, and if Joe Cole is given a place in the midfield, England might just manage to drag themselves out of the group stages. I'm not counting on it, however, and have decided to tranquilize myself to get through this game. I'll wake up at 9:30 to avoid seeing Lamps crying on the pitch.
*I do not advocate taking recreational drugs, even of the over-the-counter sleeping variety.
Group D after the jump.
Well, well, this group got interesting.
After seeing Germany run rampant over Australia and score four goals, it's hard to believe they ended up losing to Serbia, who simply looked confused in their loss to Ghana. But that's what yet another strange refereeing decision will do, and Germany playing a man down just couldn't get it done. Now they'll be taking the field without Klose, which won't be too big a loss, and looking to overpower Ghana. If they get the Ghana that played against Australia, who still couldn't pull out a win despite being a man up, Die Mannschaft will have no trouble picking up three points and advancing.
If, however, the Ghana that came to play against Serbia shows up, Germany have a very real possibility of joining France in the western power-failure. A Serbian loss still lets the Germans through, but even a draw in the other match sees Serbia taking second in the group. The Germans, however, seem to be less affected by the ball (possibly because the Bundesliga has been using it for months) and are capable of better crosses and lower shots on goal. Don't bet on them joining France at the airport.
Australia v Serbia (ESPN2, 2:30pm ET, 11:30am PT)
Tim Cahill returns for what is likely Australia's last match. All the Socceroos have to do is beat Serbia and hope that Ghana beat Germany--which, given some of the strange elements comprising this World Cup, is not entirely impossible. Yet I just don't see them going through. Australia are now missing Craig Moore and Harry Kewell, while somehow the dirty Serbians look to have everyone available, now that Lukovic has served out the suspension he received in the first match.
For Aston Villa fans, cheering on the White Eagles is nearly impossible. For those new Villans we've picked up (welcome!) Nemanja Vidic fouled Gabby Agbonlahor in the box during the Carling Cup final, and although James Milner converted the resulting penalty, Vidic wasn't sent off and although we place most of the blame on Phil Dowd, we still rightfully consider Vidic to be a dirty player. In addition, striker Nikola Zigic recently signed with Birmingham City, thus earning him total enmity in our eyes. I say, go Socceroos!