Sorry guys, been a little hectic the past few weeks and I haven’t been able to post much of anything. Since I was behind I decided to change up my original idea and do a massive recap/preview for each team before the group stages. Except I’m writing these very early in the morning about three hours before the games start, which I won’t be able to watch anyway. Good times. Anyway, here’s Group A, Group B to follow, and it includes brief recaps and knockout stage scenarios for each team (more or less).
Uruguay (1-1-0, 4 pts, +3 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; RSA 0-3 URU; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Wins Group with Win/Draw vs. Mexico
I did get to see Uruguay’s game vs. France and was very impressed with their defensive organization in that game and really for the whole tournament. They have put themselves in a great position to advance out of the group phase and they’ve done it relatively quietly. Only a diehard could appreciate their epic defense against France and then solid finishing against South Africa in their last game. But, they only need a tie to win the group and Mexico will be playing for the win and the second place team gets Argentina, who’s red hot in the next round.
Mexico (1-1-0, 4 pts, +2 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; FRA 0-2 MEX; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Win Group with Win vs. URU / Adv. With Draw
El Tri must be kicking themselves with the opening match draw against hosts South Africa. This puts them in a must win situation to avoid the aforementioned Argentina in the next round. Mexico put it all together against France after struggling for most of the South Africa game, but can they continue that trend? Even with a loss, Mexico and Uruguay have a solid cushion in the goal differential tiebreakers and it would take two lop-sided games to knock one of them out of the knockout stages.
France (0-1-1, 1 pts, -2 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; FRA 0-2 MEX; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – Win AND make up tiebreaker (GD) against MEX/URU
Les Bleus should change their nicknames to Les Miserables. Shame on you if none of you get that joke. Anyway, France is a mess. Their entire team mutinied on Sunday, their front office has no idea what’s going on and they need a win and help to move on. And they have to do it in front of a home crowd armed with vuvuzelas and looking at the exact same scenario. But could France win and make up 4 goal on Mexico, hard to say no.
South Africa (0-1-1, 1 pts, -3 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; RSA 0-3 URU; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – See France
The host find themselves in an even tougher position than France, as they are even lower in the goal differential. This means they need a win and 5 goals to make up against Mexico and 6 against Uruguay. Highly unlikely that this will happen but South Africa doesn’t want the dubious honor of the first host country to not make it out of the group phase.
I'd like to point out that my wingman, mattries, correctly predicted this on his comment to my Group A preview. Going off my original predictions, I have both games ending in draws, but that was with Mexico and Uruguay having wrapped up the Group by winning the first two games. Either way, I did predict Uruguay would have the edge on goal differential and I still like both Uruguay and Mexico to advance, in that order.