Dé Máirt, Meitheamh 22, 2010

World Cup

The final set of simultaneous group games is the best part of the tournament, as far as I'm, concerned, especially when watching teams that haven't yet qualified and have only partial control of their own fates. They have no way of knowing precisely what they have to do and so, regardless of the situation in their own games, they have no choice but to ignore cold pragmatism and just go. It's the only scenario in which you'll see disciplined grinders like South Korea play an end-to-end 2-2 tie that could have been 4-4. Funny how the rat-bastardness of "Nichtangriffspakt von Gijón"* ended up gracing soccer fans with the most interesting phenomenon in sports.

(* I'll let wikipedia do the explaning for me, if you don't know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Germany_v_Austria_(1982) Suffice here to say that, while England and ourselves would prefer to top group C and so avoid Germany, Algeria would probably love to have a shot at them. And I wouldn't begrudge them that if worse comes to worse for us.)

So Uruguay vs. South Korea and Argentina vs. Mexico are the first official second-round matchups. I think the South American teams will win both, and continue the odd trend of playing as if they have the home-continent advantage while the African teams flounder. Maybe it's more of a 'home hemispheric winter' advantage?

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