FanPost

FIFA World Cup - Open Thread - June 22nd



Now that it's the offseason, I just wanted to give an open thread for the World Cup for the rest of the tournament. If you want to keep this up longer, just reccomend it so that it will stay up longer. Once the thread gets off the front page of fan posts, I'll just post this again....

 

I'll start the discussion. How crazy was it that the goal that won the game vs. Slovenia was negated!? I was watching the game and after watching the replay, 3 Slovenians were fouling the U.S. team... Michael Bradley was getting hugged, I saw another player being put in a headlock and in the background, you could see another U.S. player being shoved to the ground.

Here are a couple of videos of the goal if any of you haven't seen it yet:

 

This next one is proof that the U.S. got completely robbed. Here are the two comments on the video that showed me that Slovenia was doing everything wrong and the U.S. was doing everything right:

"Pause at 0:36, there are 5 clear obstruction holding penalties. The entire Slovenia team committed one big fould basically. Way to go referee Coulibaly, may you live with what you've done." - jbertclassic

"PLEASE READ THIS........ the only, literally only, thing i could see any usa player did wrong there was clint dempsey. He put on a sweet juke move on his marker and breaks his ankles, it wasn't a push but the defender gets juked out so bad it looks like he did you can sort of see it at 17 seconds and 29 seconds." - feetonabus

Here's the video and pause at those times for you to go insane.


So... the U.S. got robbed, we know that much. Now it's what happened afterward that gives us a bit of a break. After tying Slovenia, the England vs. Algeria game went on. The best possible scenario came out of that with the game ending in a 0-0 draw. That allowed neither team to get ahead of us because with the tie, England and Algeria both only gained one point, England moving to 2 points and Algeria moving to 1. The reason we are ahead of England is because our draw was 2-2 and their's was 0-0. That gives us a 2 point lead in the Goal differential, which is the tiebreaker. That leaves Group C looking like this:


Position   Country               Record    Points        GD

1.               Slovenia             1-0-1        4                  +1

2.               United States    0-0-2        2                  +2

3.               England             0-0-2        2                  0

4.               Algeria                0-1-1        1                  -1

 

The way Group Play works is that after the Round Robin schedule, the Top 2 teams in each group move on to the knockout stage. All of Group C has already played 2 of the 3 games in their Round Robin schedule, here are the two remaining games for Group C:

England vs. Slovenia - Wednesday, June 23rd, 10:00 A.M. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3.COM

United States vs. Algeria - Wednesday, June 23rd, 10:00 A.M. ET, ESPN, ESPN3.COM, MOBILE TV

Now the first thing that jumps out at you is that both of the games are at the same time. That might actually be a good thing, that we know where we stand at the moment of what the U.S. has to do to move on. Another good thing is that they are both at times that aren't insane for any U.S. time zone (except Hawaii). The games will be on the ESPN family of networks and ESPN3.com.

Until we get to that day, we have other games on tap. I'm going to update this thread as often as possible so that you have new content each morning to wake up to.

 

Here is Tuesday, June 22nd's schedule of matches:

France vs. South Africa - 10:00 A.M. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3.COM

Mexico vs. Uruguay - 10:00 A.M. ET, ESPN, ESPN3.COM, MOBILE TV

Greece vs. Argentina - 2:30 P.M. ET, ESPN, ESPN3.COM, MOBILE TV

Nigeria vs. South Korea - 2:30 P.M. ET, ESPN2, ESPN3.COM, MOBILE TV

The rest of this post are just previews for Tuesday's games and recaps of Monday's games copied off of ESPN (I know you wouldn't click on the link to go check out the preview, so I just copy and pasted them into the post. Note I am not taking any credit for these previews if ESPN is reading this).

 

Ronaldo ends scoring drought as Portugal rolls

Scoring Summary

Portugal North Korea
Raul Meireles (29')  
Simão (53')  
Hugo Almeida (56')  
Tiago (60')  
Liédson (81')  
Cristiano Ronaldo (87')  
Tiago (89')  

<!-- match stats -->

Match Stats

Portugal

North Korea

26(13) Shots (on Goal) 15(4)
18 Fouls 3
5 Corner Kicks 1
2 Offsides 3
55% Time of Possession 45%
2 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
4 Saves 4

<!-- end match stats --><!-- match info -->

Match Information

Stadium: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa
Attendance: 63,644
Match Time: 07:30 ET
Official(s): Pozo, Pablo (Chile)

Teams

Portugal North Korea
Eduardo Ri Myong-Guk
Bruno Alves Ri Jun-Il
Ricardo Carvalho Ri Kwang-Chon
23 Fábio Coentrão 13 Pak Chol-Jin
13 Miguel Ji Yun-Nam
Pedro Mendes Cha Jong-Hyok
16 Raul Meireles 17 An Yong-Hak
19 Tiago Pak Nam-Chol
11 Simão 11 Mun In-Guk
18 Hugo Almeida 10 Hong Yong-Jo
Cristiano Ronaldo Jong Tae-Se
Substitutes
20 Deco Nam Song-Chol 16
Paulo Ferreira An Chol-Hyok 7
Duda Kim Myong-Gil 18
21 Ricardo Costa Kim Kum-Il 6
15 Pepe Kim Myong-Won 20
22 Daniel Fernandes Choe Kum-Chol 12
14 Miguel Veloso Kim Kyong-Il 22
Liédson Ri Kwang-Hyok 21
17 Ruben Amorim Ri Chol-Myong 19
Rolando Pak Nam-Chol 14
12 Beto Kim Yong-Jun 15
10 Danny Pak Sung-Hyok 23
Substitutions
Miguel Veloso for Raul Meireles (70)
Kim Kum-Il for Pak Nam-Chol (58)
Duda for Simão (74)
Kim Yong-Jun for Mun In-Guk (58)
Liédson for Hugo Almeida (77)
Nam Song-Chol for Cha Jong-Hyok (75)
Yellow Cards
Pedro Mendes (38)
Pak Chol-Jin (32)
Hugo Almeida (70)
Hong Yong-Jo (47)
· Rosters: Portugal | North Korea

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored.

 

So did Raul Meireles, Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida, Liedson and Tiago (twice).

 

<!-- begin inline -->

How to advance

World Cup 2010 Here are the scenarios for each team to reach the World Cup round of 16 for groups that have played two games. Story

<!-- end inline -->

 

Portugal put on the most dominant performance of the World Cup on Monday, knocking in a flurry of second-half goals and routing North Korea 7-0, a win that puts Portugal on the brink of advancing to the round of 16 and means the Koreans won't make it out of group play.

 

"It was a great day for Portugal and Portuguese football," coach Carlos Queiroz said

 

"The players are really happy with the way they played, the attitude for the game, the beautiful football, the beautiful goals."

 

Those goals came in bunches.

 

<!-- begin inline -->


Game Notes

• Portugal's seven-goal margin is tied for seventh-largest in World Cup history. It's the largest since Germany beat Saudi Arabia 8-0 in 2002, and third-largest in the last nine World Cups (35 years).

• Portugal will now advance with a win or tie versus Brazil, or even a loss assuming Ivory Coast wins but does not make up the massive goal difference.

• Portugal scored all seven goals from inside the North Korea box, tied for second-most by a team since 1966. Yugoslavia also had seven goals from inside the box in a 9-0 victory against Zaire in 1974. Hungary had nine goals from inside the box in a 10-1 win against El Salvador in 1982.

• Cristiano Ronaldo scored the sixth goal in the 87th minute, his 23rd career goal for Portugal, first since February 2009 and first in the run of play in over two years.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

<!-- end inline -->

 

Simao, Almeida and Tiago all scored early in the second half, after Meireles' 29th-minute goal gave Portugal the lead.

 

Liedson, substituting for Almeida, started another run with a goal in the 81st.

 

Ronaldo ended his goalless streak in the 87th minute, and Tiago added his second goal two minutes later.

 

One of the world's best and most highly paid players, Ronaldo had not scored for his nation in a non-friendly match since the 2008 European Championship.

 

"To score seven goals in a World Cup is not easy," said Ronaldo, who gave his man-of-the-match award to Tiago. "My teammates played very well."

 

The win moves Portugal into second place in Group G with four points, two behind Brazil. The Ivory Coast has one point, and North Korea can't advance in the tournament after two straight losses.

 

"This is a great result for us," Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz said. "We have to continue now."

 

North Korean state television aired live coverage of the Portugal match, in what was believed to be a first for a national team soccer game taking place abroad.

 

Talk about bad timing.

 

North Korea had early chances, but trouble began when Meireles latched on to a clever pass by Tiago and gave Portugal its first goal of the tournament. The score seemed to deflate the Koreans, while the Portuguese finally began to show some of the Latin flair that has made them an outside favorite to win their first championship.

 

"Tactically speaking, we fell apart and we couldn't block their attacks," North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun said. "It was my fault for not playing the right strategy and that is why we conceded a lot of goals."

 

Meireles assisted on Simao's goal in the 53rd minute, which went through the legs of North Korea goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk. Almeida scored three minutes later from a powerful header, and Tiago knocked home a pass from Ronaldo in the 60th.

 

Liedson scored off a defensive error, before Ronaldo ended a 16-month goal drought for his country with a simple finish after the ball fell to him.

 

<!-- begin inline --><!-- INLINE MODULE -->

Portugal's team page

For more about Portugal and its chances in South Africa this summer, click here. <!-- END INLINE MODULE --><!-- end inline -->

 

"It was important to score goals today," Tiago said.

 

Played in a steady downpour, the wet field at Green Point Stadium caused errant passes as many players lost their footing.

 

North Korea named the same lineup as the one that impressed in a 2-1 loss to Brazil, while Queiroz made four changes from the team that was held to 0-0 draw by Ivory Coast.

 

Tiago replaced the injured Deco in midfield, with Almeida and Simao joining Ronaldo up front. Miguel Brito was chosen ahead of Paulo Ferreira at right back.

 

The win gives Portugal a massive goal advantage if it ends up tied with Ivory Coast on points after the last match Friday. Portugal plays Brazil, which has already qualified for the second round, while Ivory Coast plays North Korea.

 

Gonzalez header ends Switzerland's Cup-record streak of not conceding a goal

Scoring Summary

Chile Switzerland
Mark González (75')  

<!-- match stats -->

Match Stats

Chile

Switzerland

20(7) Shots (on Goal) 7(1)
19 Fouls 26
5 Corner Kicks 3
9 Offsides 0
58% Time of Possession 42%
6 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 1
1 Saves 6

<!-- end match stats --><!-- match info -->

Match Information

Stadium: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Attendance: 34,872
Match Time: 10:00 ET
Official(s): Khalil Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)

Teams

Chile Switzerland
Claudio Bravo Diego Benaglio
Waldo Ponce 13 Stéphane Grichting
18 Gonzalo Jara Steve von Bergen
17 Gary Medel 17 Reto Ziegler
14 Matías Fernández Stephan Lichtsteiner
Carlos Carmona Benjamin Huggel
Arturo Vidal Gökhan Inler
Mauricio Isla 16 Gelson Fernandes
Humberto Suazo 11 Valon Behrami
15 Jean Beausejour 10 Blaise N'Kufo
Alexis Sánchez Alexander Frei
Substitutes
Pablo Contreras Ludovic Magnin 3
11 Mark González Johnny Leoni 21
23 Luis Marín Tranquillo Barnetta 7
19 Gonzalo Fierro Pirmin Schwegler 20
20 Rodrigo Millar Marco Padalino 14
16 Fabián Orellana Eren Derdiyok 19
21 Rodrigo Tello Mario Eggimann 22
Ismael Fuentes Albert Bunjaku 18
10 Jorge Valdivia Xherdan Shaqiri 23
12 Miguel Pinto Hakan Yakin 15
13 Marco Estrada Marco Wölfli 12
22 Esteban Paredes  
Substitutions
Mark González for Arturo Vidal (45)
Tranquillo Barnetta for Alexander Frei (42)
Jorge Valdivia for Humberto Suazo (45)
Eren Derdiyok for Blaise N'Kufo (68)
Esteban Paredes for Matías Fernández (65)
Albert Bunjaku for Gelson Fernandes (77)
Yellow Cards
Humberto Suazo (2)
Blaise N'Kufo (18)
Carlos Carmona (22)
Tranquillo Barnetta (48)
Waldo Ponce (25)
Gökhan Inler (59)
Matías Fernández (60)
 
Gary Medel (61)
 
Jorge Valdivia (90)
 
Red Cards
  Valon Behrami (31)
· Rosters: Chile | Switzerland

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa -- Chile broke through the formerly impenetrable Swiss defense when substitute Mark Gonzalez scored on a header in the 75th minute Monday, and Chile beat 10-man Switzerland 1-0 to move closer to a spot in the final 16.

 

<!-- begin inline -->

How to advance

World Cup 2010 Here are the scenarios for each team to reach the World Cup round of 16 for groups that have played two games. Story

<!-- end inline -->

 

Before Chile scored, Switzerland set a World Cup record in the 69th minute by going 551 minutes without allowing a goal, breaking the mark of 550 held by Italy at the 1986 and 1990 tournaments. Chile has won both its games in Group H.

 

"This is for my family and for all the people who have supported us in Chile," Gonzalez said. "This was a great moment for me and for our team."

 

Gonzalez headed home a pass from fellow sub Esteban Paredes, who had gotten around the staunch Swiss defense and crossed to Gonzalez at the back post. Gonzalez's downward header beat goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

 

"We are in a good position, and we have one more game to prove ourselves even more," Gonzalez said of Friday's match against Spain at Pretoria.

 

<!-- begin inline -->


Game Notes

• Chile is now one of four teams -- three of them South American -- with six points in the tournament.

• Chile's goal ended Switzerland's World Cup-record shutout streak at 559 minutes, going back to 2006.

• Switzerland completed only 55.6 percent of its passes, the worst success rate of any team since 1966. The Schweizer Nati also completed the fewest number of passes, 114, of any team in that time.

• Chile finished with 32 touches in the opponent's box, to Switzerland's eight.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

<!-- end inline -->

 

Switzerland played a man down since the 31st minute when midfielder Valon Behrami was sent off with a straight red card for rough play against Arturo Vidal. That ejection irked the Swiss.

 

"For me, it was just an unbelievable decision," Behrami said. "There was small contact with my hands on his neck, and he went down like [he was hit with] an elbow. Everyone can make a mistake, but this mistake was very, very big for me because it's a dream to play in a World Cup."

 

Vidal admitted he was surprised by the red card.

 

"I felt his elbow on my neck," Vidal said. "It was a definite yellow card, but I wasn't expecting a send-off."

 

The last goal the Swiss allowed came on July 2, 1994, when they were eliminated 3-0 by Spain in the second round. Aitor Begiristain scored from a penalty kick in the 87th minute 16 years ago.

 

Swiss sub Eren Derdiyok nearly equalized in the 90th minute but drove his shot wide from in front of the net as Switzerland put on late pressure.

 

Chile had all the first-half pressure even before Behrami's ejection for hitting two Chileans in the face within seconds.

 

Alexis Sanchez appeared to give Chile the lead in the 49th minute, but was clearly offside. He nearly scored in the 55th minute on a break but was thwarted from the right side by Benaglio.

 

Chile included striker Humberto Suazo in its starting lineup, while Steve von Bergen replaced injured defender Philippe Senderos for Switzerland. Senderos, who has an injured his right ankle, will also miss Switzerland's final match.

 

Suazo was replaced by Jorge Valdivia to start the second half.

 

"Suazo played the first half-hour where the space was very small and the ball rarely hit the area he was playing, hardly any possibility to move forward," Bielsa said. "It was very difficult for him to lead the attack in this kind of situation."

 

Chile's Carlos Carmona received one of nine yellow cards handed out by Saudi Arabian referee Khalil Al Ghamdi. It was Carmona's second of the tournament, and he will miss Chile's match against Spain.

 

The game started in a sea of red -- Chilean and Swiss fans in their predominant colors, and many empty seats, which are mostly red at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Costumes included a woman dressed in a full-length cow outfit and dozens of Chilean flags.

 

Villa's two goals get Spain's World Cup quest back on track

Scoring Summary

Spain Honduras
David Villa (17')  
David Villa (51')  
David Villa (pen miss 62')  

<!-- match stats -->

Match Stats

Spain

Honduras

22(7) Shots (on Goal) 9(0)
9 Fouls 19
12 Corner Kicks 2
1 Offsides 7
57% Time of Possession 43%
0 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
0 Saves 3

<!-- end match stats --><!-- match info -->

Match Information

Stadium: Ellis Park Stadium
Attendance: 45,000
Match Time: 14:30 ET
Official(s): Yuichi Nishimura

<!-- WDIG_CS_HEADER_START --> <!-- WDIG_CS_HEADER_END -->

Teams

Spain Honduras
Iker Casillas 18 Noel Valladares
Carles Puyol Maynor Figueroa
Gerard Piqué Osman Chávez
11 Joan Capdevila 21 Emilio Izaguirre
15 Sergio Ramos 23 Sergio Mendoza
14 Xabi Alonso 20 Amado Guevara
16 Sergio Busquets Wilson Palacios
Fernando Torres 19 Danilo Turcios
Xavi 13 Roger Espinoza
David Villa 15 Walter Martínez
22 Jesús Navas 11 David Suazo
Substitutes
Carlos Marchena Edgar Álvarez 17
23 Pepe Reina Victor Bernárdez 5
Andrés Iniesta Donis Escober 22
12 Victor Valdés Jerry Palacios 10
10 Cesc Fábregas Hendry Thomas 6
Raúl Albiol Georgie Welcome 12
17 Álvaro Arbeloa Oscar Boniek García 14
21 David Silva Ricardo Canales 1
19 Fernando Llorente Johnny Palacios 4
20 Javi Martínez Mauricio Sabillón 16
13 Juan Mata Carlos Pavón 9
18 Pedro Ramón Núñez 7
Substitutions
Cesc Fábregas for Xavi (65)
Georgie Welcome for Roger Espinoza (45)
Juan Mata for Fernando Torres (70)
Ramón Núñez for Danilo Turcios (63)
Álvaro Arbeloa for Sergio Ramos (77)
Jerry Palacios for David Suazo (84)
Yellow Cards
  Danilo Turcios (8)
  Emilio Izaguirre (38)
· Rosters: Spain | Honduras

JOHANNESBURG -- Now that looked like a championship team.

 

David Villa scored two goals as Spain got its World Cup pursuit back on track with a 2-0 victory over Honduras on Monday.

 

<!-- begin inline -->

Spain gets its mojo back

Schaerlaeckens ESPN.com's Leander Schaerlaeckens hands out his match grades for Spain's 2-0 Group H victory over Honduras. Story

<!-- end inline -->

 

Villa beat three defenders in the 17th minute before goalkeeper Noel Valladares got a touch to the Spain striker's rising shot but not enough to keep it out.

 

Villa scored his 40th international goal in the 51st when his shot from the edge of the area deflected off a defender to go over Valladares. But Villa missed a penalty kick in the 62nd at Ellis Park, sending it wide right.

 

Spain has three points and can still win Group H with a victory over Chile, which earlier beat Switzerland 1-0 to lead with six points. Switzerland has three points and Honduras has zero.

 

<!-- begin inline -->

How to advance

World Cup 2010 Here are the scenarios for each team to reach the World Cup round of 16 for groups that have played two games. Story

<!-- end inline -->

 

"We think this first group is very difficult and we have a tough game against Chile," Villa said. "Being world champions is a long way down the road, there's a long time to go, and many matches as well."

 

Spain's win eased the disappointment of an opening 1-0 loss to the Swiss.

 

"I think the other day we also [played well] but the result wasn't so good," Villa said. "We had a lot of possession, a lot of chances we just didn't score."

 

This time, Villa single-handedly took the pressure off Spain, the European champion and a favorite coming to South Africa, with a superb individual effort. He dribbled between Honduras players before cutting past Osman Chavez to send a right-footed shot into the far corner of the net as he slipped to the ground.

 

Jesus Navas picked Villa out for the second goal, with the striker's shot glancing off Chavez into the top of the net.

 

<!-- begin inline -->


Game Notes

• Spain will now advance with a win versus Chile on Friday, and could also advance with a tie.

• Spain dominated the ball against Honduras, touching the ball 780 times to Honduras' 536. This includes a staggering 54-3 advantage inside the opponents' 18-yard box.

• David Villa scored both goals to tie a Spanish record with five career World Cup goals. He has 40 goals in 60 appearances, four behind Raúl for most goals in Spain history.

• Spain finished the game with 88.8 percent passing accuracy, the fourth-best single-game mark of the tournament. The Spaniards also have the third-best single-game passing accuracy of 89.5 percent, which they achieved in their opening-round loss to Switzerland.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

<!-- end inline -->

 

Villa's fifth career goal tied him with four Spain players as the country's leading scorer in World Cup play and moved him within four goals of Raul Gonzalez's record 44. But he shot No. 41 wide on a penalty kick in the 62nd after Navas was tripped inside the area.

 

"Our loss to Switzerland is water under the bridge," Villa said. "Today, we played in the same style, we attacked with short passes and we had some very good chances."

 

Honduras barely remains alive in the tournament after also losing to Chile 1-0 last week.

 

"We lacked conviction," Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda said. "There's nothing much to explain except that we had a superior team in front of us."

 

Spain got back to its classy style and attacked from the start in front of 54,586 fans. It created a handful of chances inside the seventh minute, when Villa's long-range shot beat the outstretched Valladares but went off the crossbar.

 

Ramos headed Joan Capdevila's cross over the net while free at the far post in the 11th.

 

Spain's defense provided goalkeeper Iker Casillas with some nervous moments soon after. Casillas rushed to catch a high ball before blocking Amado Guevara's shot just before Villa's first goal.

 

Navas' speed kept Honduras off-kilter, while Fernando Torres uncharacteristically missed three clear chances in the first half.

 

Torres, making his first start since right knee surgery in April, headed over the crossbar before sending a shot high in the 33rd. He then wasted Villa's fine pass from inside the area at the close of the half.

 

Previews

 

Uruguay-Mexico Preview

<!-- <tr class="colhead"> <td colspan="4">Schedule: <a href="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/team/fixtures/_/id/203/mexico?cc=5901&ver=us">Mexico</a> | <a class="def" href="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/team/fixtures/_/id/212/uruguay?cc=5901&ver=us">Uruguay</a></td> </tr> -->
Mexico Uruguay
6/22 Uruguay 6/22 Mexico

A draw between Uruguay and Mexico on Tuesday would see both teams advance out of Group A. The incentive to be group champion -- and likely avoiding Argentina in the round of 16 -- means the two sides will be pushing for victory.

 

Uruguay and Mexico each have four points through two matches, but Uruguay has the inside track for first place in Group A with a plus-3 goal differential, while Mexico is plus-2. A draw would give La Celeste the top spot in the group and relegate Mexico to second, which would put El Tri into a matchup with likely Group B winner Argentina.

 

The runner-up in Group B could be Greece, South Korea or Nigeria depending on the outcomes of matches Tuesday.

 

Uruguay put itself in this position with a 3-0 romp over host South Africa on Wednesday, and is on the verge of getting out of group play for the first time since 1990. Diego Forlan opened the scoring with a 25-yard blast that dipped under the crossbar in the 24th minute before securing the three points with a penalty kick in the 80th minute.

 

"Obviously, as a forward I like to score goals, but the important thing is to win," Forlan said. "The team is good. ... We're very solid."

 

Alvaro Pereira added what right now is a critical goal deep in injury time for La Celeste, who have yet to concede a goal in South Africa after holding France to a scoreless draw. Uruguay has shown itself to be a versatile team that can play defensively or push forward for goals.

 

Mexico can win Group A with a victory, and enters this match confident after defeating France 2-0 on Thursday. Coach Javier Aguirre used all three of his substitutions astutely, with Javier Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco coming off the bench to score second-half goals for El Tri.

 

Hernandez has played well in both matches as a substitute, and is pushing for a spot in the starting lineup. Aguirre, though, still prefers to bring the 22-year-old off the bench and start veteran Guillermo Franco, who often backtracks to help the midfielders retain possession.

 

"Javier asks me to makes sacrifices and help (Gerardo) Torrado and (Rafael) Marquez to recover the ball" in midfield, Franco said. "My job is at times more defensive, to keep the ball."

 

Aguirre may not even have to make that decision since forward Carlos Vela is doubtful for this match after suffering a leg injury in the first half versus France. Paul Aguilar likely will return to the starting lineup to replace right back Efrain Juarez, who will sit after picking up two yellow cards in two matches.

 

Mexico is trying to reach the second round for the fifth consecutive World Cup. Blanco and defender Rafael Marquez can tie the national record by appearing in an 11th World Cup match if either play Tuesday.

 

South Africa-France Preview

<!-- <tr class="colhead"> <td colspan="4">Schedule: <a href="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/team/fixtures/_/id/478/france?cc=5901&ver=us">France</a> | <a class="def" href="http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/team/fixtures/_/id/467/south-africa?cc=5901&ver=us">South Africa</a></td> </tr> -->
France South Africa
6/22 South Africa 6/22 France

For South Africa, the joy of being the first African nation to host the World Cup is all but certain to be replaced by the sorrow of being the first host country to fail to reach the knockout round.

 

France, meanwhile, is careening towards the vast rebuild of a once-storied side as coach Raymond Domenech's tenure winds down.

 

The two sides, each with the slimmest of chances to reach the round of 16, meet Tuesday at Bloemfontein to complete Group A play.

 

The euphoria of opening the World Cup and gaining a point against Mexico in a 1-all draw June 11 for Bafana Bafana gave way to the crushing disappointment of a 3-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday. That left South Africa with a tremendous hurdle to overcome -- defeat the 1998 champion and 2006 finalist by a large margin, and hope Mexico or Uruguay win in a rout or become the first host country left out of the knockout round.

 

"It will be a disaster for us, the home country, to go out in the first round," midfielder Steven Pienaar said.

 

The task will be made more difficult after goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was red carded in the 76th minute against Uruguay for tripping Luis Suarez, leading to Diego Forlan's penalty kick that made it 2-0.

 

In addition, midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi will sit after accumulating two yellow cards in the first two matches. Moneeb Josephs, who allowed a goal in the final 11 minutes after replacing Khune, likely will start for Bafana Bafana, while Surprise Moriri appears to be the frontrunner to fill Dikgacoi's midfield spot.

 

France has been a major disappointment. A listless offense that failed to score in either match -- most recently a 2-0 defeat to Mexico on Thursday -- gave way to infighting. Mercurial striker Nicolas Anelka was thrown off the team Saturday after refusing to apologize following a heated argument with Domenech at halftime of the loss to Mexico.

 

On Sunday, director Jean-Louis Valentin said the team refused to train in protest of Anelka's dismissal before announcing his resignation from the federation.

 

"It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team," Valentin said. "It's unacceptable. As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted."

 

Amid that chaos, Thierry Henry could make his final start with Les Bleus. In the same situation as South Africa with one point through two matches, this could also be the farewell match for Domenech, who will give way to Laurent Blanc following the World Cup.

 

Domenech, whose eccentric nature has at times bewildered and infuriated fans and players, has seen France backslide since losing in penalty kicks to Italy in 2006. Les Bleus were ousted in group play in the 2008 European Championships, and Henry's controversial handball in a playoff versus Ireland contributed heavily to qualify for South Africa.

 

Argentina-Greece Preview

<!-- PREDICTOR MODULE ALL STATES --> Argentina may not need any points against Greece on Tuesday to advance to the knockout stage, but that won't stop coach Diego Maradona's team from chasing a third straight victory and total domination of Group B.

 

La Albiceleste have been arguably the most impressive of the favorites in South Africa, and Greece will have to find an answer for Argentina's potent attack in order to avoid elimination.

 

After failing to convert on numerous chances while settling for a 1-0 win over Nigeria in its opener, Argentina had no problems scoring Thursday against South Korea.

 

Striker Gonzalo Higuain posted the first hat trick of the tournament to spark the Argentines to a 4-1 victory, raising hopes that the nation can capture its third World Cup.

 

"To help our team with goals is the best thing I can do," Higuain said. "We have had a great match from all points of view ... but we still have to maintain a cool head because this is just getting started."

 

Argentina poses a challenge for any opponent because of a star-studded group of forwards that includes Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez alongside Higuain, as well as Inter Milan standout Diego Milito off the bench.

 

"Argentina today is placing a lot of very dangerous players on attack," captain Javier Mascherano. "That could also be a benefit for us, because if you put four or five players above midfield it forces rivals to defend with more players and have fewer to attack you."

 

Even a loss likely wouldn't cost Argentina the Group B title because of its comfortable edge in goal differential, and Maradona may opt to rest some of his stars. Defender Walter Samuel will likely be among those on the bench after he left the win over South Korea in the 22nd minute with a thigh injury.

 

Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze may join him, with each having earned one yellow card. Jonas Gutierrez is suspended after earning yellow cards in each of the first two games.

 

The Greeks, tied for second in the group with South Korea, will need at least a draw to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stage. An upset win may not even be enough if South Korea beats Nigeria.

 

Greece still has confidence after scoring twice against a 10-man Nigerian team to win 2-1 on Thursday, earning its first-ever goals and points in World Cup play.

 

"I can't say whether we'll make it out of the group," striker Dimitris Salpingidis said. "But I can say that we'll leave with our heads held high."

 

Defense will be the focus for Greece as it tries to contain the Argentines, who won 4-0 in the only previous meeting during the 1994 World Cup.

 

"We have to be very careful to watch our defense, preserve the clean sheet for as long as possible, and try and make use of counter attacks," midfielder Thanassis Prittas said. "If we surprise them and score a goal, then the game might take a different turn."

 

South Korea-Nigeria Preview

<!-- PREDICTOR MODULE ALL STATES --> Neither South Korea nor Nigeria had much to be happy about following its second Group B match, but there may be a lot to look forward to for either nation if it can win Tuesday's opening-round finale.

 

Without a point through two games, Nigeria still could advance to the round of 16 with a victory, but the Taeguk Warriors will also be pushing for a win that would all but assure them a spot in the knockout stage.

 

South Korea's 2-0 win over Greece on June 12 has the team in good position even after Thursday's 4-1 loss to powerful Argentina, which leads the group with six points.

 

"I didn't expect us to lose by such a large margin, but everything will go down to the final group game," South Korea coach Huh Jung-moo said. "This defeat is a great lesson and we must learn from it when we play against Nigeria."

 

Greece and South Korea are tied for second with three points and an identical goal differential, although the Taeguk Warriors hold a slight edge in goals scored and would likely advance with a victory.

 

Considering the Greeks will be underdogs against the Argentines, a draw may be enough for South Korea to reach the knockout stage. The only previous time the nation has done so, it was the co-host along with Japan in 2002.

 

Nigeria did not win a game then and has six losses and a draw in its last seven World Cup matches since beating Bulgaria in 1998.

 

But the Super Eagles limited Argentina to one goal in their opening loss and held an early lead Thursday against Greece following Kalu Uche's 16th-minute strike.

 

That was before midfielder Sani Kaita received a red card -- and a suspension for Thursday's game -- for kicking a Greek defender after the ball had gone out of bounds in the 33rd minute.

 

Playing short-handed, Nigeria conceded a pair of goals to lose 2-1, and Kaita has received more than 1,000 death threats via e-mail.

 

"It looks like even if we win the next one, we're not going to qualify, so practically we are out of the tournament," Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said after the match.

 

Another look at the table may have changed Yobo's mind.

 

If Nigeria wins and Argentina defeats Greece, the Super Eagles would end up in a three-way tie for second place with the Greeks and South Koreans, advancing by virtue of the goal-differential tiebreaker.

 

"The positive thing is that we still have a chance of qualifying, although we need a helping hand from Argentina," Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback said. "We need a fresh start, and we'll do that by beating Korea Republic."

 

South Korea has two wins and a draw in three previous meetings with Nigeria, although none have come during World Cup play.

So with all that said, enjoy the vuvuzelas!

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