View Full Version : FIFA WC Soccer 2010 , GROUP A: all previews, reviews and match thread

May 31, 2010, 12:22 AM


<center> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="border-collapse: collapse" bordercolor="#111111" width="75%" id="AutoNumber1" height="99"> <tr> <td width="4%" align="center" height="19">&nbsp;</td> <td width="21%" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" align="center" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">Team</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">P</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">W</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">D</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">L</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">GF</font></b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">GA</font></b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">GD</font></b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#C0C0C0" height="19"><b> <font face="Arial">PTS</font></b></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="4%" align="center" height="20" bgcolor="#66FF99"><b> <font face="Arial">1</font></b></td> <td width="21%" bgcolor="#66FF99" align="center" height="20"><b> <font face="Arial">Uruguay</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>2</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>0</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>4</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>0</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>4</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>7</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="4%" align="center" height="20" bgcolor="#66FF99"><b> <font face="Arial">2</font></b></td> <td width="21%" bgcolor="#66FF99" align="center" height="20"><b> <font face="Arial">Mexico</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>2</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#66FF99" height="20"><b>4</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="4%" align="center" height="20" bgcolor="#FF6666"><b> <font face="Arial">3</font></b></td> <td width="21%" bgcolor="#FF6666" align="center" height="20"><b> <font face="Arial">South Africa</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>5</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>-2</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>4</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td width="4%" align="center" height="20" bgcolor="#FF6666"><b> <font face="Arial">4</font></b></td> <td width="21%" bgcolor="#FF6666" align="center" height="20"><b> <font face="Arial">France</font></b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>3</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>0</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>2</b></td> <td width="9%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>4</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>-3</b></td> <td width="10%" align="center" bgcolor="#FF6666" height="20"><b>1</b></td> </tr> </table> </center>


Friday, June 11
14:00 - South Africa 1 : 1 Mexico, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
18:30 - Uruguay 0 : 0 France, Green Point Stadium, Cape Town

Wednesday, June 16
18:30 - South Africa 0 : 3 Uruguay, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria

Thursday, June 17
18:30 - France 0 : 2 Mexico, Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane

Tuesday, June 22
14:00 - France 1 : 2 South Africa, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
14:00 - Mexico 0 : 1 Uruguay, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

* All times are GMT


http://www.fifa.com/imgml/flags/s/rsa.gif SOUTH AFRICA:Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Shuaib Walters
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa, Anele Ngcongca, Aaron Mokoena, Matthew Booth, Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni , Tsepo Masilela, Lucas Thwala
Midfielders: Teko Modise, Lance Davids, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, MacBeth Sibaya, Thanduyise Khuboni, Kagiso Dikgacoi, Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala
Forwards: Surprise Moriri, Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela , Siyabonga Nomvethe
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira

http://www.fifa.com/imgml/flags/s/mex.gif MEXICO: Goalkeepers: Memo Ochoa, Luis Ernesto Michel, Oscar Perez
Defenders: Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Osorio, Hector Moreno, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Paul Aguilar, Efrain Juarez
Midfielders: Jonny Magallon, Jorge Torres Nilo, Gerardo Torrado, Israel Castro , Andres Guardado
Forwards: Pablo Barrera, Adolfo Bautista , Alberto Medina, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos, Guillermo Franco, Carlos Vela
Coach:Javier Aguirre

http://www.fifa.com/imgml/flags/s/fra.gif FRANCE:
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda , Cedric Carrasso
Defenders: Eric Abidal, Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Bakary Sagna, Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Marc Planus , Anthony Reveillere , Sebastien Squillaci
Midfielders: Abou Diaby, Alou Diarra, Yoann Gourcuff, Florent Malouda, Franck Ribery, Jeremy Toulalan ;
Forwards: Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry , Andre-Pierre Gignac, Sidney Govou , Djibril Cisse, Mathieu Valbuena
Coach: Raymond Domenech

http://www.fifa.com/imgml/flags/s/uru.gif URUGUAY:Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Juan Castillo, Martin Silva
Defenders: Diego Lugano, Diego Godin, Andres Scotti, Jorge Fucile, Martin Caceres, Mauricio Victorino, Maximiliano Pereira
Midfielders: Walter Gargano, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Sebastian Eguren, Diego Perez, Alvaro Pereira,Ignacio Gonzalez, Nicolas Lodeiro, Alvaro Fernandez
Forwards: Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Sebastian Abreu, Edinson Cavani, Sebastian Fernandez
Coach:Oscar Tabarez

May 31, 2010, 11:06 PM
I am hoping for Uruguay. I hate France, dont want them to make it, but they probably will. Also hoping for SA to do something magical infront of their home crowd. Its the WC, you never know :)

June 1, 2010, 01:50 AM
South Africa and Mexico all the way!!

Hate France and U r a gay.

Nuff said.

June 1, 2010, 10:03 AM
i would like to see france go out.

South Africa should go on as hosts

mexico ... uruguay ... tough choice

June 1, 2010, 10:13 AM
Uruguay and France will probably go through.

June 10, 2010, 08:57 AM
24 hours left .... ....

June 10, 2010, 08:58 AM
France (L)

June 10, 2010, 09:50 AM
South Africa v Mexico preview (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264031&cc=4716&ver=global)

With the eyes of the world trained upon the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, the opening match of the FIFA World Cup offers South Africa a unique opportunity to make a statement of intent, both for their own team and for the tournament as a whole.

Bafana Bafana will take to the stage after the usual extravagant, drawn out opening ceremony and will find it tough to focus their attention on overcoming their South American opponents after being part of such a scene. However, buoyed by the sound of around 90,000 vuvuzelas, Carlos Alberto Parreira's men will have the entire nation - perhaps even continent - behind them as they walk out onto the pitch and you can never rule out the benefit of having a '12th man' in the stands.

Coach Parreira boasts all the experience needed to succeed at the highest level, however few have given the South Africans much of a chance of getting out of a group that also includes France and Uruguay. Led by the likes of Steven Pienaar and Aaron Mokoena, Bafana Bafana have, though, been in great form of late. Unbeaten since mid-October, the side have recently beaten Colombia, hammered Guatemala, and overcome Denmark in their warm-up games and have an excellent third placed campaign in the 2009 Confederations Cup (held in South Africa) to draw upon should they need to.

Their opponents, Mexico, have also been on a good run. Unlucky to lose to England after a first-half showing that suggested coach Javier Aguirre will place his emphasis on attacking football, Mexico will have confidence flowing their veins after beating reigning world champions Italy 2-1.

It is something of a turnaround considering that, under Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Mexicans were on the verge of missing out on the tournament altogether, and Aguirre now has the team playing with a freedom that brings out their self-belief. With a mixture of veteran performers like Rafael Marquez and young talent in the form of Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela, they will be a tough proposition for the hosts to overcome.

South Africa player in focus: Katlego Mphela. South Africa left Benni McCarthy out of the squad for a reason and one of them is the form of Mphela. With four goals in his last two starts, the Mamelodi Sundowns striker has made a first-team place his own and, on the back of an incredible goal in the Confederations Cup against Spain, his star is on the rise.

Mexico player in focus: Javier Hernandez. Having just moved to Manchester United in a deal reported to be around £10 million, the spotlight will well and truly be on the young striker. Quick, agile and with a good eye for goal, he has scored seven goals in 12 games for his country. Will need to perform better than he managed in the friendly at Wembley though, if he is to prove his doubters wrong.

Key Battle: Steven Pienaar vs. Andres Guardado. Pienaar's form is crucial if South Africa have any hope of getting out of the group and his work on the wing will set up chances for his team-mates. A great season at Everton has raised expectation, but then Guardado's form for Deportivo has also raised the bar on the other side. Both wide men are creative, quick and their battle down the flanks will be a deciding factor in how the game goes.

Trivia: This year's opening match is the first ever in Africa and it will be the third opener to feature an African team. On both previous occasions the African sides picked up shocks wins as Cameroon beat holders Argentina 1-0 in 1990 and Senegal beat champions France by the same score in 2002.

Stats: South Africa coach Parreira will take charge of a side at his sixth World Cup. Kuwait (1982), United Arab Emirates (1990), Saudi Arabia (1998) and Brazil (1994 and 2006); while Mexico have been sent home in the Second Round stage in the past four World Cup tournaments.

Odds: A 2-2 draw comes in at 17.00, while Mphela looks a good bet to score first at 7.50 with Bet 365.

Prediction: You can't rule out the importance of the crowd in the first game. Players at the Confederations Cup complained of hearing what sounded like a swarm of bees on the pitch - in fact it was the vuvuzela noise - and Mexico could be stunned. It should be enough for South Africa to claim at least a draw.

June 10, 2010, 09:53 AM
Uruguay v France Preview (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264032&cc=4716&ver=global)

Historians of French football did not have to search too far back in the record books for worrying omens when the World Cup draw was made. In 2002, when les Bleus surrendered their crown in such meek fashion, it was a 0-0 draw in their second game against Uruguay that truly confirmed their fall from grace.

France do not approach the 2010 finals enjoying the lofty status of world beaters, though. In fact, having infamously required a Thierry Henry handball to edge past Republic of Ireland in a play-off and suffered a defeat in a warm-up game against China's second string, Raymond Domenech's side look ripe for another early exit in Group A. With Lassana Diarra absent due to injury, and Henry exiled to the bench, France are also grappling with an experimental 4-3-3 formation that is open to exploitation.

In contrast, Uruguay - winners in 1930 and 1950, but competing in only their second finals since 1990 - appear high in confidence, with captain Diego Lugano boasting Oscar Tabarez's side are hitting their best form. Whether that is enough to take advantage of France's very evident problems remains to be seen.

Uruguay player in focus: Diego Forlan. Cometh the hour, cometh the man? In recent seasons, Forlan has proved to be the player for the big occasion and in May scored both of Atletico Madrid's goals in the Europa League final. Forlan top-scored for Uruguay in qualification with seven goals and, in his only match of the 2002 World Cup, netted in a 3-3 draw with Senegal. The striker has reached double figures in each of his past six seasons in Spain.

France player in focus: Franck Ribery. The Bayern Munich star missed the Champions League final due to suspension and must be keen to make amends. Ribery was one of the breakthrough stars of the last World Cup but has seen his preparations for the current tournament disrupted by a sex scandal, though he remains a key figure for les Bleus. Raymond Domenech needs Ribery to flourish in an unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation if the country are to enjoy a trouble-free group stage.

Key battle: Luis Suarez v William Gallas. The Uruguay forward is arguably world football's most in-form player heading into the finals having scored a remarkable 49 goals for Ajax last season. In Gallas, he faces an opponent who has been recovering from injury and has yet to prove he can strike up a productive partnership with Eric Abidal in the heart of Domenech's defence, but the Frenchman's form at Arsenal was impressive in the first half of the season.

Trivia: Diego Forlan's father, Pablo, was named in the Uruguay squads for both the 1966 and 1974 World Cup finals.

Stats: Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan scored 71 goals between them in all competitions last season. France's five forwards - Thierry Henry, Sidney Govou, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Djibril Cisse and Nicolas Anelka - managed just 59.

Odds: Uruguay (3.50), the draw (3.20), France (2.20) with Bet365. Uruguay to win to nil is 5.50 and may be worth a flutter with France looking unconvincing of late.

Prediction: Uruguay possess some formidable firepower and with France still adjusting to a new formation and struggling for form, we may have an early shock on our hands.

June 11, 2010, 08:54 AM
Great atmosphere.

Bafana Bafana are pumped. Singing and dancing their way in.

June 11, 2010, 09:03 AM

South Africa v Mexico

South Africa:
Khune, Gaxa, Mokoena, Thwala, Khumalo, Tshabalala, Pienaar, Modise, Letsholonyane, Dikgacoi, Mphela.
Subs: Josephs, Masilela, Ngcongca, Sibaya, Davids, Booth, Parker, Nomvethe, Moriri, Sangweni, Walters, Khuboni.

Perez, Rodriguez, Aguilar, Osorio, Salcido, Torrado, Marquez, Juarez, Vela, Franco, Giovani.
Subs: Ochoa, Barrera, Castro, Blanco, Hernandez, Moreno, Guardado, Magallon, Torres, Bautista, Medina, Michel.

Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)

June 11, 2010, 09:04 AM
Come on South Africa!

June 11, 2010, 09:05 AM
And it starts!

June 11, 2010, 10:57 AM
South Africa 1 vs 1 Mexico, final result

June 11, 2010, 03:38 PM

June 15, 2010, 11:35 PM
Hosts have chance to humble Uruguay (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264033&league=FIFA.WORLD&cc=4716&ver=global)

Both South Africa and Uruguay drew their opening matches in Group A, against Mexico and France respectively, and while the hosts produced the better performance, both sides will be happy to have held supposedly superior opposition. But this now becomes a pivotal game for both teams; the time for sharing points is over and the winner of this clash will have one foot in the next round.

Bafana Bafana took a long time to settle into their opening match and were outplayed for swathes of the match, but Siphiwe Tshabalala's blistering strike remains the goal of the tournament so far and although Carlos Alberto Parreira's side conceded a 79th-minute equaliser, South Africa were only denied an injury-time winner by the thickness of a post.

With many pundits expecting the hosts to be nothing more than whipping boys, the 1-1 result against Mexico will give them the belief they can compete.

Uruguay went with a very defensive formation against France, with five at the back and two holding midfielders, but will surely have to come out and attack against a side they will have earmarked to beat. Ajax striker Luis Suarez was disappointing in Cape Town and with only Atletico Madrid forward Diego Forlan carrying any threat, the forwards in Oscar Tabarez's side will have to really step up their game if the coach switches to an attacking formation.

Throw in the fact that young attacking-midfield star Nicolas Lodeiro will be missing after being sent off against France and that Uruguay will have to play at altitude in Pretoria and this looks like an evenly matched bout.

South Africa player to watch: Steven Pienaar. The Everton player's form is crucial if South Africa are to get a result. He was the inspiration behind most of Bafana's attacks against Mexico and his creative passing is a key part of their pacy, counter-attacking style. He loves to drift in from the left wing to augment the attack and he may have to if Uruguay once again opt to pack out the defence.

Uruguay player to watch: Luis Suarez. Billed as one of the bright new hopes of Uruguayan football, Ajax striker Suarez failed to deliver against France. But his manager is willing to give him another go. "It is not good to change players who didn't give their best performances, then they lose even more confidence," Tabarez said. Suarez needs to deliver with Sebastian Abreu waiting in the wings.

Key Battle: Aaron Mokoena v Diego Forlan. Portsmouth's Mokoena usually lines up as a defensive midfielder for his club, but he played as a centre back in South Africa's opening game and was one of the few defenders that put in a solid performance. On Wednesday he will be charged with stopping La Celeste star Forlan. The Atletico Madrid forward, who scored both goals in the Europa League final, has twice won the European Golden Shoe and it only looks matter of time before he scores.

Trivia: Never in the history of the World Cup has the host nation been eliminated in the first round. However, in their last two tournaments Bafana Bafana have fallen at the group stage.

Stats: The South Africa players only touched the ball eight times in the opposition's penalty area against Mexico, while Uruguay only touched the ball five times in France's 18-yard box.

Odds: South Africa (3.20), the draw (3.20), Uruguay (2.40) at Bet365. With both sides fairly evenly matched the score draw looks tempting - 1-1 is at 6.00.

Prediction: Home advantage and another match at altitude for South Africa could just give them the decisive edge, so we are backing the hosts to win.

June 16, 2010, 10:35 PM
clinical performance takes uruguay to the top......

what france and mexico gonna do today ???

June 16, 2010, 10:44 PM
France aim to make amends with Mexico win (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264034&league=FIFA.WORLD&cc=4716&ver=global)

It is fair to say that after an opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay, France have substantial room for improvement. Whether Raymond Domenech is the man to affect that change and inspire a victory over Mexico remains to be seen, but if France do fail to secure three points on Thursday, they will be in real danger of departing before the start of the knockout stages.

Les Bleus were desperately unconvincing against Uruguay, and questions were asked of Domenech's tactical approach after he left Florent Malouda and Thierry Henry out of the first XI and kept Sidney Govou on until the final five minutes despite a disappointing performance. With France still growing accustomed to an unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation, and continuing reports of rifts within the camp, Domenech has his work cut out.

Mexico, meanwhile, came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with South Africa on the opening day of the tournament and in this tightest of groups, harbour real ambitions of reaching the last 16. Goalscorer Rafael Marquez should shrug off a calf problem to take his place in a side that favours flowing football and a slick passing game.

France player in focus: Florent Malouda. The Chelsea winger was a surprise omission from the starting XI to face Uruguay and France missed his energy and invention down the left. Malouda has dismissed reports that he had a bust-up with Raymond Domenech in training and could be restored to the first team to face Mexico.

Mexico player in focus: Giovani dos Santos. The forward was believed to be considering pulling out of the World Cup finals after his brother, Jonathan, was overlooked by coach Javier Aguirre, but performed well in the opening game against South Africa. Giovani is not afraid to let fly and is a danger in and around the box.

Key battle: Yoann Gourcuff v Rafael Marquez. Bordeaux star Gourcuff is France's creator-in-chief while Marquez is Mexico's defensive inspiration, so an intriguing battle of wills could develop between the two men. If Gourcuff is given space then he has the ability to unlock the Mexico defence, but Marquez will look to deny him that at every given opportunity.

Trivia: If Javier Hernandez scores for Mexico, he will emulate his grandfather, Tomas Balcazar, who netted against les Bleus in the 1954 World Cup.

Stats: France's forwards have not scored a goal in international football since Nicolas Anelka netted in the first leg of their play-off win over Republic of Ireland. That is a run of six games.

Odds: France (2.30), the draw (3.20) and Mexico (3.25) with Bet365. Mexico to win 2-1 at 12.00 looks decent.

Prediction: France are not convincing at all under Raymond Domenech and with Mexico adopting a positive approach, expect them to outplay les Bleus.

June 17, 2010, 03:24 PM
THIS is how this group stands after two games ......

Mexico and Uruguay: they need to draw their game between them selves and both are through. so surley no one is taking the risk of losing or winning ???

SA and France : they must win and also hope either Mex or Uruguay lose and they have to overturn an 4 or 5 goal GD

June 21, 2010, 12:55 PM
Draw enough for top two to progress (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264035&league=FIFA.WORLD&cc=4716&ver=global)

The two favourites to progress from Group A meet on Tuesday knowing a draw will be enough for both sides to reach the second round. Though a tie is the ideal scenario for both nations, one hopes that there will be no repeat of West Germany's mutually beneficial 1-0 win over Austria at the 1982 finals. With the team that comes second in Group A facing the daunting prospect of Argentina in the second round, there is certainly plenty left for Mexico and Uruguay to play for.

Mexico have shown plenty of attacking promise, with Giovani Dos Santos emerging as a key creative figure for Javier Aguirre's side, and their victory against France was just reward for a policy of throwing caution to the wind. But question marks remain over their defence, and with a real tendency to leave large spaces on the wings, Uruguay's pair of Pereiras - Alvaro and Maxi - have the ability to punish them in a way that Les Bleus didn't manage. Mexico's failure to convert their chances proved costly in the 1-1 draw with South Africa, but against France they proved they have the ability to add substance to their unquestionable style.

After a cagey approach to the opening 0-0 draw with France, Oscar Tabarez unleashed Diego Forlan to devastating effect against South Africa. Edinson Cavani was brought into partner Luis Suarez up front, with Forlan moving back into the hole, where the Atletico Madrid forward was free to drop deep and influence the game - even netting two goals for his troubles. The formation change also gave Luis Suarez a new lease of life as he created two of Uruguay's goals and the South American's renewed attacking freedom means Mexico's Rafael Marquez will likely be charged with keeping a watchful eye on the in-form Forlan.

Uruguay player to watch: Diego Perez. The unsung hero of the Uruguay side, Perez provides a combatative and steely presence in midfield, doing all the ugly work so the more creative players can flourish. Without Perez, the likes of Diego Forlan, Alvaro Pereira and Luis Suarez would not have the ball to work with; he is a vital cog in the thus far efficient Uruguay machine.

Mexico player to watch: Cuauhtemoc Blanco . At 37 years old, legendary striker Blanco is the oldest player to have appeared at the 2010 finals and has taken up the Roger Milla-esque role of veteran super sub. Having been overlooked for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the Mexican public were delighted by Javier Aguirre's decision to recall the cult figure to the national team set-up. His goal against France means he has now scored in three finals (1998, 2002 and 2010) and the man who brought us the bunny-hop still has the touch and football brain to cause any team problems.

Key Battle: Guillermo Franco v Diego Lugano. Uruguay have yet to concede at this year's finals, and the presence of defensive colossus and team captain Lugano has been key to their two clean sheets. Imperious in the air and hard in the tackle, Lugano takes no prisoners, which does not bode well for misfiring Mexico striker Guillermo Franco. Having scored in a warm-up game against England, Franco has regressed to the profligate figure West Ham fans were accustomed to watching last season. He does possess good anticipation and seven international goals says that he can score at this level, but he will need something special to escape Lugano's clutches.

Trivia: Seven different players recorded multiple-goal games for Uruguay in its first three trips to the World Cup (1930, 1950, and 1954), including Oscar Miguez, who did it three times. But Diego Forlan was the first Uruguayan player to score twice in a World Cup match since Juan Hohberg scored a brace against Hungary in 1954.

Stats: Mexico striker Javier Hernandez (age 22) and Cauhetemoc Blanco (37) set a record of sorts by scoring against France. Never before had a pair of teammates that far apart in age scored in the same World Cup match.

Odds: Mexico (3.75), Uruguay (4.30), the draw (1.80) are all on offer at Bet365, while Diego Forlan is attractively priced at 6.50 to score the first goal.

Prediction: Though neither side will be keen on facing Argentina, what's more important is that they both progress to the second round. It's a match that seems to scream Latin flair, but in reality will be a tight contest that threatens to end in the draw that both nations need.

June 21, 2010, 01:02 PM
Frenzied France staring exit in the face (http://soccernet.espn.go.com/preview?id=264036&league=FIFA.WORLD&cc=4716&ver=global)

It is safe to say that France are in complete disarray. Following their drab 0-0 draw with Uruguay and 2-0 reverse against Mexico, Les Bleus stand on the precipice of a second group stage exit in the last three World Cups. The surprise run to the final in 2006 seems just a distant memory and this time around, Domenech's side do not possess the Zinedine Zidane get-out-of-jail card.

Poor performances on the pitch have been commonplace in the four years since that fateful night in Berlin and in South Africa, there has been no sparkle. Whispers about players being unhappy with much-maligned coach Raymond Domenech have been bubbling under the surface for a while, but they have erupted into the public arena in the past few days.

Nicolas Anelka's alleged foul-mouthed rant at Domenech at half-time in the Mexico game was widely reported and certainly pointed to the sort of unrest that the French Football Federation (FFF) felt was unacceptable. Anelka was sent home but the problem was not solved. The players revolted - refusing to train on Sunday. Perhaps the strangest development in the whole debacle was that Domenech - the victim of Anelka's tirade - was the one to read the statement revealing the players' unhappiness. If the incident provokes the players and coach to be aligned in opposition to the FFF, it could amazingly bring the team closer together.

For South Africa, the end of the road seems near. The Bafana Bafana fans have provided a colourful, passionate presence and will do everything to lift their team going into the final game. But after the opening draw against Mexico, the hosts' world ranking of 83 was exposed fully by Uruguay in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat. Salt was rubbed into South African wounds as goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was sent-off, with back-up stopper Moeneeb Josephs in line to replace him against France.

It would seem that Carlos Alberto Parreira's side need a miracle, and what they (as well as France) will also be hoping for is a winner in the Mexico v Uruguay game. The miracle could have come in the form of Les Bleus' tumultuous preparation, but changes need to be made to take full advantage, starting with the 4-5-1 formation that has left star striker Katlego Mphela marginalised in the opening two matches.

France player to watch: Thierry Henry. Les Bleus' all-time leading scorer has become a peripheral figure in South Africa; the once mighty captain fantastic seems to have lost his va-va-voom to such an extent that he was an unused substitute against Mexico. But Anelka's departure opens the door for a return to the starting line-up that will likely be encouraged by his team-mates. One of the most talented players of his generation, Henry still possesses the talent to unlock any defence and could yet provide the inspiration to pull France back from the brink.

South Africa player to watch: Reneilwe Letsholonyane. The 'Divine Ponytail' he may not be, but Letsholonyane's locks have been seen bounding up and down the pitch in Bafana Bafana's first two games. Full of energy, he has been a driving force in South Africa's midfield; his ability to close-down opponents when they have the ball and burst forward at pace when his own team are in possession have made him an integral player for Parreira's side.

Key Battle: Abou Diaby v Kagisho Dikgacoi. The two men charged with being their sides' midfield ball-winners will likely play a crucial role in this encounter. With Jeremy Toulalan suspended, there will be extra-pressure on Diaby to provide Les Bleus with a box-to-box presence and some strength in the middle of the park. He will have his hands full facing up to the energy of Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala, as well as the guile of Steven Pienaar, while the tough-tackling Digakoci certainly appears to have the tougher job on paper, with Franck Ribery likely to be given a free role as France's creator-in-chief.

Trivia: Uruguay's 3-0 win over South Africa last Wednesday represented the largest margin of victory against a host nation in the group stage in World Cup history.

Stats: Only three hosts have failed to finish among the top eight teams at a World Cup: Spain in 1982 (12th), the United States in 1994 (14th), and Japan in 2002 (9th).

Odds: South Africa (3.25), North Korea (2.30), the draw (3.30) are all on offer at Bet365, while Thierry Henry to score the last goal might be worth a flutter at 7.50.

Prediction: Anelka's removal from the squad and the subsequent player revolt may just spark the sort of siege mentality needed to inspire a struggling France side to victory. South Africa will be no walkovers but their fans will leave Free State Stadium feeling disappointed at Bafana's exit.

June 21, 2010, 01:03 PM
I want Uruguay to go through as group champs. Their path to the semis is pretty simple from here, all they have to do is not screw up. Forlan!

June 21, 2010, 01:26 PM
I want Uruguay to go through as group champs. Their path to the semis is pretty simple from here, all they have to do is not screw up. Forlan!

its the most likely as both mexico and uruguay are gonna settle for a draw and that makes uruguay the champs.

later they have to face C1 or D2 in quarters ..... which now looks like usa/slovenia/england or ghana/serbia/germany

unless england become C1 or german become D2 ... very unlikely uruguay are favourites agaisnt USA/Serbia/slovenia ghana for me

June 22, 2010, 11:20 AM

Uruguay qualifies group winners
Mexico Qualifies group runners up

South Africa and France miss out