Argentina marches on to last 16, South Korea retains continuation of their world Cup dream, Greece reloaded their chances by virtually eliminating Nigeria while Mexico’s “subs” put the French World Cup dreams in ghost town.
Argentina – South Korea
Argentina stakes it claim as one of the Tournament favorites on its way to the second round. A deserved 4-1 win over South Korea, who despite the score showed their potential to reach the second round. Argentina is the first to reach the second round of 16. no matter the outcome on their Group’s last day on June 22nd.
Argentina played a very balanced match and overcame the odd soccer ball behavior better than their opponent. Super Talent Messi is what made the real difference between the almost equally matched playing teams, yet his splitting passes and ingenuity on how to create space for his team mates, made all the difference. Although not scoring himself, the goal post prevented that, Messi was the orchestrator of all 4 goals for Argentina.
Korea’s captain showed a remarkable organizing talent for his team but could not prevent whirlwind Messi to dominate the midfield decidedly in favor of the Argentinians. although Korea faced their master today, They hold their fate in their own hands to reach the last 16 against the almost chance-less Nigerians. Nigeria can only still advance if Argentina beat Greece with at least 3 goals and they defeat South Korea with at least 2 goal difference.
Greece – Nigeria (Group B)
Greece kept their chances alive by defeating Nigeria 2-1. Greece, after their shock defeat against South Korea 5 days ago, edged the Nigerians who took the lead in the 16th. minute through Kalu Uche.
Uche’s was the first goal directly, untouched by the goalkeeper, from a free kick and Nigeria seemed to be on it way to their first victory. An uncontrolled and completely unnecessary “revenge” from Kaita on Greece’s Torosidis made the Nigerian see “Red” and Otto Rehhagel, Greece’s coach, responded immediately by bringing in additional firepower with an early substitution through striker Georgios Samanas going into full force attack. The coach’s tactic worked like magic and in the 44th minute Konstantinos Katsouranis blast from 20 yards was deflected into the Nigerian goal.
Throughout the second half the chances where equal but the Greek edged on their Nigerian opponents to allow for counter attacks against the 10 Africans and in the 71 minute the Greek tactic worked. A long range shot from Alexander Tziolis was directed into the path of Torosidis who didn’t fail to bury the goal into the Nigerian net.
The remainder of the game remained highly competitive and Nigerian Goal Keeper Enyeama, Man of the Match, did the impossible by keeping his net clean in grand style.
France – Mexico (Group B) 0-2
The Mexican “subs” shot down the French Giants in a very attractive attacking soccer game. Mexico stunned the World Cup contenders with an almost impossible thought victory to join Uruguay in the top of Group A with 4 points each.
France by now must realize that there is absolutely nothing they can do to advance to the round of 16 with the exception of giving the South Africans a defeat on home soil with a grand margin and hope on a victory of either Uruguay or Mexico in their last meet. If Uruguay and Mexico in their game on the 22nd decide to play it safe and split the points, both France and South Africa will be eliminated.
The extreme fast playing Mexicans deserved their victory to the fullest. Their superior passing game, creating hole after hole in the French defense, even if some where on the verge of offside, can only be attributed to their excellent team spirit. That’s what has been missing from the French in the first and second game; team spirit. It looked like the French where still fighting the ghosts in the closet that Zinedine Zidane left with his chest headbutt against the Italians in the finals of the last World Cup in Austria/Switzerland to vent his frustration over the impending loss of the World Cup 2006. This frustration is still present and Mexico exposed it it the maximum.
Mexico’s ambition won it over France’s lackluster and cautious approach. The Vibrant “El Tri” in their youthful enthusiasm went on the attack from the first minute to the last and where twice rewarded in the second half when Hernadez sprung the offside trap and appeared eye to eye with French goalkeeper Lioris, elegantly sidestepping the blocking attempt and passing into an open net.
The expected French storm being behind never materialized and the Mexicans marched on with hair splitting precision opening the French defense and Barrara’s run was halted by Abidal’s sliding foul inside the penalty area. Blanco, looking very nervous, slotted home a textbook penalty securing the 3 points for El Tri. Mexico’s advancement into the round of the last 16 is within grasp and we can only conclude that they deserve to dream on in world Cup 2010.