Ever since the infamous 1-0 West German "victory" over Austria that ensured both teams' progression in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, FIFA has mandated that all final matches in the group stage be played simultaneously to eliminate possible collusion or conspiracy.
This policy makes the final games exciting and maddening for the fans. Channel-jumping or split-screen viewing becomes necessary to keep track of both games in each group. But confusion sometimes reigns: How the heck are you supposed to know who's playing whom in the knockout rounds with so much going on?
Fear not, RCS Slidelines is here to help. We'll give you the up-to-the-minute update on second-round matchups throughout the final four days of group play. Whenever a goal is scored and/or a group standing is altered, we'll update this page - as well as the RCS front page - to keep you on top of things.
Here are the teams advancing as of this moment, and their second-round matchups. Once a spot is clinched, the team name will be noted in boldface.
Teams Advancing (in order)
Group A: Uruguay, Mexico
Group B: Argentina, South Korea
Group C: USA, England
Group D: Germany, Ghana
Group E: Netherlands, Japan
Group F: Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Chile
Second-Round Matchups -
Uruguay vs. South Korea
USA vs. Ghana
Netherlands vs. Slovakia
Brazil vs. Chile
Argentina vs. Mexico
Germany vs. England
Paraguay vs. Japan
Spain vs. Portugal
Friday's Live Update (Group H)
Pregame: The picture in this group remains very much jumbled, with three teams still in the mix to win the group. Chile faces Spain, where a draw will see the Chileans through but could be disastrous for the Spanish. Switzerland plays winless Honduras, where a Swiss victory probably will be enough to send the them through. It might all come down to goal differential and who defeated whom head-to-head. The permutations are too numerous to contemplate, so we'll let the matches sort this out.
Kickoff: Looking forward to some excitement after a relatively boring morning as every team needs a result and every goal matters greatly this round. Iniesta return to the Spanish attack, while key mid-fielders Matias Fernandez and Carlos Carmona are out due to suspensions for Chile.
4th Minute: Spain already gets a good chances on a header by Torres off a free kick, but it sails over the goal.
11th Minute: Good chances for both Chile and the Swiss, but neither team can connect as both games are still locked at 0-0, but it looks like neither match will stay that way throughout.
21st Minute: Chile picks up its third yellow card of the match and will have to be careful to not go a man down. But Spain, after looking strong in the opening ten minutes have fallen off the pace a bit since.
24th Minute: Wow! David Villa gets Spain on the board after Chile's goaltender comes 10 yards out of the box to clear the ball before Torres can get to it, but he doesn't get it far enough out and David Villa is able put it into an open net from far out. Huge mistake by the Chilean goaltender, if you are gonna come out that far you have to clear that ball out of bounds.
33rd Minute: After David Villa's 50 yard goal the pressure is on Switzerland for the time being. The Swiss need to win by two if the Spain-Chile result holds to advance.
34th Minute: Chile is just wide on the equalizer. They won't get a much better chance than that, they win a corner but can't do anything with it. Spain comes back down the field and Torres wants a penalty for a takedown in the box, but he won't get it.
37th Minute: Disaster for Chile. Iniesta makes his presence felt with a great touch on the pass from David Villa for Spain's second goal. And at the same time a second yellow is issued to Estrada on a horrible call. But regardless, Chile will have to try to come back with only 10 men.
Halftime: Spain have taken control of the game since Chile has gone a man down, but Xabi Alonso got banged up right before the half. Look for him to be subbed to start the second half. Despite the trouble for Chile, if these results hold the Chilean team would still advance. In the other game Switzerland has certainly had its chances to score, but can't figure out how to put the ball in the net.
46th Minute: Yakin on for Fernandez for Switzerland who is hoping to put someone on that can create a goal. In all likelihood all they need is one to go through to the next round. Chile makes two subs of its own hoping to find a way to get back into their match.
47th Minute: There is life yet for the South Americans! Chile's substitutions pay off as Millar puts a goal in from the top of the box by deflecting it off Pique.
53rd Minute: The Swiss just miss out on what would be a death sentence as Honduras fails to put in a golden opportunity header. That surely would have spelled the end for the neutral army.
64th Minute: Another good chance for the Swiss, but they lack the creativity and touch to put it in. They need Spain to score again and to find a way to put one in themselves because it's apparent that asking the Swiss for two goals is like asking most teams for four in the net.
71st Minute: A wonderful fingertip save for Benaglio that keeps Switzerland's chances alive. A mere minute later the Swiss have a chance to put one in, but again don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they have it in the box.
83rd Minute: The Spain-Chile game has turned into a snoozefest with the ball constantly at midfield. Honduras and Switzerland are both still getting chances but neither team can figure out how to convert. Hopes are dim for the Swiss as they have to find a way to get two past the keeper in the closing minutes.
Injury Time: Somehow three Honduras players whiff on a ball that any could have knocked in for an easy goal off a corner. The last 20 minutes of this game have been very exciting, but not rewarding for either side.
Fulltime: Spain wins the group and Chile advances as the second team. Switzerland and Honduras really played a thrilling back and forth game at the end, but no one could find the back of the net. All five South American teams advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in World Cup history. The field of 16 is set and gets kicked off tomorrow.
Friday's Live Update (Group G)
Pregame: The two Portuguese-speaking nations are about assured to go through, with Brazil needing just a draw to top the group and Portugal requiring a win in a battle of the colonists vs. the colonized. This could be one of the most entertaining matchups of the tournament, since both teams are loaded with offensive firepower and neither team is in danger of failing to advance. In the consolation match, Ivory Coast looks to salvage some pride after two lackluster games while North Korea's players are certainly in fear of a repeat of their humiliating 7-0 loss to Portugal and further risking Kim Jong-il's wrath.
15th Minute: Ivory Coast scores, going ahead, 1-0, on North Korea. The only way it can somehow advance is to beat North Korea as badly as Portugal did and then hope Brazil beat Portugal. It's probably not going to happen, as the North Koreas are clamping down on defense. Meanwhile, the Brazil-Portugal match is off to a promising start, though no goals yet. Kaka is watching from the bench, the victim of a ludicrous sent-off from his last match.
26th Minute: Portugal might be doing a little bit of scoreboard watching now and has to be careful. Ivory Coast is now up 2-0, and the goal differential gap is 7, in the event of a Portugal loss. Another problem in the Brazil-Portugal match is the short fuse of the Mexican referee. Yellow cards are being doled out like free candy on Halloween.
Halftime: The Brazil-Portugal game has slowed down considerably, with both sides committing a few cynical fouls. Brazil has the edge in possession and best scoring chances, but has not been able to come through. Fabiano gets subbed just before the half, surely a precaution against his picking up another yellow card (a total of six has been handed out in the first half). Ivory Coast is pushing hard, but two goals are all it has managed up to this point.
52nd Minute: It's hard to believe a match between two of FIFA's top three ranked teams can be this disjointed. Portugal is showing more initiative to start the second half, while Brazil seems more concerned with not to get anybody hurt or pick up any more yellow cards. And since neither team will know Group H will shake out at this point, they won't be able to manipulate exactly where they want to finish in this group.
66th Minute: Ronaldo makes a good run and Portugal nearly scores, only stopped by Julio Cesar's fingertip save. Keep in mind that a Portugal goal here may knock Brazil into second place in this group and keep it out of the U.S. side of the bracket. If you think the U.S. has an open path to the semis, it's possible that the U.S.'s semifinal opponent may be either Holland or Portugal, and not Brazil ... but we're getting waaaaaaaay ahead of ourselves.
79th Minute: It's obvious Ivory Coast isn't going through, ending Africa sides' dreadful group play. Of the six African teams in the tournament, only Ghana got through to the knockout rounds. The teams went a combined 3-10-5, with two meaningless victories in the final group matches. Ghana's victory over Serbia, courtesy of a late PK, was the only reason Africa managed to salvage one entry in the Round of 16. Cameroon, the highest ranked African side entering the tournament, lost all three matches.
88th Minute: Brazil, with Kaka and Robinho not in the lineup and Fabiano going off before the half, is content to sit on a scoreless draw. Portugal also seems willing to accept second place and move on. There have been few chances in the second half for either side. Especially Portugal, a goal would've been good enough to win the group. Ivory Coast has tacked on another goal, now up 3-0 on North Korea.
Fulltime: Portugal had one last flurry, with Danny being mauled by Julio Cesar's cleats. But it amounted to nothing. The scoreless draw sends Brazil through as the group winner and Portugal in second place. Now both await how Group H plays out, since a number of scenarios are still in play, with Chile, Spain and Switzerland all still in the mix. South American sides remain spotless in this tournament, compiling a 10-0-4 record and so far all four teams through to the knockout rounds, with Chile's final game to come.
Thursday's Live Update (Group E)
Pregame: The situation in this group is remarkably simple. The Netherlands is already in, and in all likelihood will take the group. Cameroon is already eliminated. The winner of the Japan-Denmark match will finish second and advance, with Japan going through with a draw. The Dutch may decide to go with a few reserves in a meaningless match, though Arjen Robben might be making his first appearance after sitting out the first two group matches with an injury.
5th Minute: Well, the Dutch are not gonna take it easy today. They make only one change, with two players risking a suspension if they pick up another yellow card. Robben is still on the bench, not sure if he'd come in later or if they just want him to rest his hamstring.
18th Minute: NIPPON! Honda struck a great free kick and Sorenson had no chance to save it. Japan has taken a 1-0 lead and firm control of second place in Group E. Denmark will need two goals to go through now. Could Asia actually send two teams into the Round of 16? It's looking very likely.
30th Minute: Japan struck again, off another free kick, this time by Endo. The Japanese are showing not only spunk but surprising skill. Two perfectly placed free kicks. Now if the Dutch somehow stumble against Cameroon, Japan may even win the group.
38th Minute: OK, the Dutch aren't going to let anybody steal this group, having taken a 1-0 lead over Cameroon. So unless Denmark mounts a dramatic comeback in the second half, it looks like Holland and Japan will go through to face Slovakia and Paraguay, respectively. And the way Denmark is playing now, there is no danger of that happening.
Halftime: With 45 minutes to play, barring a sensational comeback by Denmark, it will be the Netherlands and Japan through to the knockout round.
67th Minute: Eto'o knocks in a PK against Holland, but it's mostly immaterial. The only match that matters remains 2-0 Japan. Denmark is not mounting much of an uprising.
83rd Minute: Denmark finally scores, a rebound off a missed PK. The PK was thoroughly undeserved, but the officiating in this match stinks something fierce, even by this World Cup's low standard. Japan still has a two-goal cushion at 2-1, and Holland also has just opened up a 2-1 lead on Cameroon.
88th Minute: Japan, tired of toying with Denmark, decided to put the Danes out of their misery, not that it was really under any sort of threat. Another lackluster European side is going home, and the Starks have come up with a theory why.
Fulltime: Japan goes through with a dominating 3-1 win. Either Japan is a real revelation or Denmark, with no bite up front, is just that poor. Holland wins the group with a 2-1 win over Cameroon. Two of Asia's three teams (not counting Australia) are in the final 16, as are two of CONCACAF's three.
Thursday's Live Update (Group F)
Pregame: All four teams are still alive and can advance. Paraguay can go through with a draw, but that's not the case for defending champion Italy, who may need to defeat Slovakia to avoid a first-round exit. Even New Zealand, once considered the weakest team in the tournament, can make a surprising appearance in the Round of 16 if it can defeat Paraguay.
20th Minute: Both games are still scoreless. If this holds up, an unfortunate situation will develop: FIFA then must draw lots to determine whether Italy or New Zealand goes through to the next round, because they will remain tied after exhausting all tiebreakers. Before the tournament expanded to 32 teams, a playoff match used to be held. But with the larger tournament, that's no longer logistically possible. For the record, this drastic step has never been needed since the tournament went to 32 teams in 1998.
25th Minute: The Italians commit a horrific turnover in front of their goal and Slovakia makes them pay immediately. Italy is playing so listlessly at this point that it deserves no better than a quick exit. As things stand, Paraguay would win the group and Slovakia would get a date with the Netherlands in the Round of 16.
37th Minute: This Azzurri squad is really befuddling. There is no sense of urgency whatsoever and they keep turning the ball over in very un-Italian fashion. Their World Cup lives are hanging by a thread, yet it's Slovakia who continues to push forward and trying to get another score. Meanwhile, Paraguay-New Zealand game remains scoreless.
Halftime: The defending champs are 45 minutes from being sent home, but this time probably not to rotten tomatoes as the 1966 team was subjected to. The Italians couldn't have had much hope for Marcello Lippi's aging, uninspiring squad. Italy's only hope is that one goal might be enough to see them through as Paraguay and New Zealand are playing some real putrid football.
57th Minute: Italy blew an absolute golden chance to score the equalizer. Pirlo now comes in, basically the last, desperate move Lippi has to make something of this. The Italians need just one goal, but they haven't had too many scoring opportunities. What's keeping Italy alive is New Zealand's inability to score. If the All Whites can somehow squeeze one home, then things would look really bleak for the Azzurri.
69th Minute: The Italians are finally showing more desperation. They nearly scored but with the keeper out, Slovakia averted the equalizer when Skrtel boots it away before the ball crossed the goal line. Was it a goal or not? Replay seemed to indicate no. But replays don't matter. We already know that.
74th Minute: Italy is surely out now. Vittek scores his second goal to put Slovakia up, 2-0. They'll need to score two goals to be able to advance, a near impossibility given the way they've played so far. But as well as the Slovaks have played, a goal by New Zealand would knock them out.
82nd Minute: Italy scores to barely stay alive. They need to score one more goal to go through. A brouhaha ensued, involving some typically Italian acting. The English ref didn't bite, as the Italians are doing everything to get somebody from Slovakia sent off for the last 10 minutes. It gets very interesting now.
85th Minute: The Italians are exerting maximum pressure and the Slovaks are back on their heels. Why couldn't they play like this all game? Italy actually had an equalized denied by an offside call, and that was also questionable.
90th Minute: These last 15 minutes have been pulsating. Slovakia scores again and SURELY, this time, Italy is done. Beautiful run by Kopunek (who just came on) off a throw-in while all the Italians watched. Slovakia is now up 3-1. Barring a late score by New Zealand, Slovakia will go through, along with group winner Paraguay.
Injury Time: It's STILL NOT OVER. Italy scores with two minutes left in added time. Slovakia is stalling in every way it can to fend off the final Italian onslaught. Funny how it took the Italians nearly 80 minutes to decide to play. The other match is over, so it's all here now.
Fulltime: It's over. The last 15 minutes of the match is pure drama. The Slovakians are elated. They were last in the group coming into play today and they found a way to advance. They deserve it. Anybody that can score 3 goals against Italy, even without Buffon, is worthy. Some of the Italian players are weeping, but it's hard to understand. Until the last 10 minutes of the match, Italy played as if it didn't care. The Azzurri came alive at the end, and Pepe had chance for a stunning equalizer in the final minute of added time, but it was chipped away by a defender. Paraguay is through as the group leader and Slovakia will get Holland in the Round of 16. Italy goes out in group play for the first time since 1974.
Wednesday's live update (Group D)
Pregame: Now that USA has progressed as the Group C winner, will Germany gamble, trying to finish second and avoiding a knockout round date with England? The Germans may advance with a draw, but to assure a Round of 16 berth, Germany will have to defeat Ghana. For the record, Germany has never failed to make it out of the group stage in its World Cup history.
Kickoff: Germany is on the precipice. A win is needed to secure passage to the Round of 16. But Ghana also represents Africa's last chance to salvage a humiliating tournament. The six African sides so far are 0-for-4 (Cameroon is already out) and Ivory Coast is barely mathematically alive. Die Nationalmannschaft in a rare appearance in black kits.
7th Minute: Both Germany and Serbia have early chances but so far no one converts. How much will Germany miss Klose, who has 11 World Cup goals in three tournaments.
22nd Minute: Germany had a couple of chances, nothing spectacular. The Serbs had a breakaway went awry and another shot stopped at point-blank range. Both matches are still scoreless.
40th Minute: Ghana keeper Kingson made a couple of nice saves, one off a poor finish by Ozil. The Aussies had their first good chance against Serbia, but Cahill's header went wide. Serbia had a goal disallowed for offside.
Halftime: In both games, both teams have had their chances, but none of them converted. Germany probably had the best chance of scoring when Ozil beat the offside trap. If both scores stand, then Ghana would win the group and Germany would finish second. But we can't believe that there wouldn't be a goal somewhere in the second half.
55th Minute: We're in the scoreless death grip here. Serbia had another chance, but couldn't breakthrough. Ghana also had a couple of counter-attack opportunities that went to waste. The tension is building.
59th Minute: Ozil scores! Germany's wunderkind buries one from 20 yards out to the left side netting. Germany now in front in Group D, Ghana hanging on to second.
70th Minute: As things stand, Germany would win the group and advance to an age-old grudge match against England. USA would get Ghana in a bracket that suddenly looks wide open for the Americans. If the U.S. beats Ghana, they'll have the Uruguay-South Korea winner in the quarterfinals. ... And both Germany and Ghana are more secure now as Australia has scored to take a 1-0 lead.
77th Minute: The Socceroos are going out, but they've shown a lot of spunk. Holman adds to Cahill's goal as Australia is now up 2-0. The only question now is who will win the group. A Ghana goal puts it back in front and pushes Germany to second, otherwise, it's USA-Ghana and Germany-England.
84th Minute: Serbia scores to make it 2-1, but it's probably all for naught as both Serbia and Australia will be going out. Germany and Ghana now seem content to play out this match as it is, with Germany up, 1-0.
Fulltime: That's it. Germany has won the group with a hard-fought 1-0 victory. Ghana also advances by virtue of Australia's 2-1 win over Serbia. USA gets Ghana, Germany gets England. Ghana salvages African pride by becoming the first (and only) team from the host continent to advance.
Wednesday's live update (Group C)
Please see our Live Blog for updates.
Tuesday's live update (Group B)
Pregame: The picture in Group B is a bit jumbled, as all four teams still have a shot at advancing. Argentina, unless it loses by three or more goals to Greece, should win the group no matter what the outcome is tonight. As for the second spot, South Korea is in the driver's seat with an edge on goal differential. A win over Nigeria should send it through. Greece will have to defeat Argentina and hope for a South Korean loss or draw. Nigeria needs to beat South Korea and an Argentina win over Greece.
11th Minute: Here we go. Nigeria scores and gives Africa a glimmer of hope of advancing to the second round. If Argentina beats Greece and this score stands up, the Super Eagles would qualify as the second-place team in Group B.
25th Minute: At this point, Greece would be very content to play for a scoreless draw, something it does best anyway. The only problem with that strategy is a South Korean goal would spoil all that.
38th Minute: Greece can't play for a draw now. South Korea just scored off a free kick and ties Nigeria at 1-1. The Koreans are back into the spot for second place. At this point, a goal in either of the two matches can swing the second-place slot among the three teams.
Halftime: Greece can't make hay against an Argentine side with seven starters on the bench (though not Messi). Meanwhile, South Korea managed to answer Nigeria and grab back second-place. It will be a turbulent 45 minutes in both matches.
48th Minute: Greece had its first scoring chance, but couldn't take advantage. Some sense of desperation finally seems to come upon the Greeks, whose game plan was ... well, if the Greeks weren't desperate enough before, here's a better reason: South Korea just scored its second goal, off another set piece, a beautiful low bender on a free kick. It's 2-1 South Korea, it looks like the Koreans are going to go through.
63rd Minute: A goal here by either Argentina or South Korea will put this group to bed. Nigeria seems thoroughly deflated after South Korea's second goal and is now getting beat to every loose ball by the Koreans, who are less skilled but more determined. The Greeks just don't know how to play offensive soccer, even if their lives depended on it.
67th Minute: Argentina blows a scoring chance, but Nigeria gets a PK, a well-earned one. Yakubu Aiyegbeni slots it in easily and ties the score at 2-2. South Korea still owns the second spot, but it's become tenuous. Another Nigerian goal would send the Greeks through.
78th Minute: Martin Demichelis of Bayern Munich blasts in a rebound and makes things very tense ... in the other game. Argentina will win the group for sure, and whoever scores the next goal in the South Korea-Nigeria match will advance as the second-place team. If the tie holds, South Korea would go through. Greece looks to be out.
82nd Minute: Nigeria has found a new lease on life and is buzzing around the South Korean goal. The Eagles had an easy flick-in for the go-ahead goal but failed to convert, but they're exerting maximum pressure on South Korea's suddenly ragged defense.
Injury Time: South Korea tries to fend off Nigeria, though the Super Eagles can't seem to get organized on the offensive end. Argentina has added another goal, so all eyes are now on Durban. ... Another Nigerian chance went by, side netting. The referee signals three minutes of added time. And another blast, wide right. Time is running out for Nigeria.
Fulltime: South Korea preserves the draw, with Nigeria unable to come through in the final moments. Group B played out exactly as Group A did: South American team wins the group, European and African sides are out. Africa, with six teams in the Cup, might be down to Ghana in Wednesday's Group D match against Germany to salvage a single entry into the Round of 16.
Tuesday's live update (Group A)
Pregame: In Group A, the situation is pretty simple. If Uruguay and Mexico play to a draw, both teams will advance, with Uruguay taking first and Mexico second, leaving France and host South Africa out. The mutinous French team will need a winner in the Uruguay-Mexico game and win by at least three goals to have any hopes of extending their stay. Bafana Bafana, barring a shocking rout of France, will be out.
30th Minutes: The French's rooster is about cooked. South Africa has a goal and Gourcuff just got sent off for what appeared to be an inadvertent elbow. France will have to play with 10 men for the next hour, needing to make up four goals.
37th Minute: Is it live or is it June 1940? South Africa just netted its second goal and France seems to be in full surrender mode. A third South African goal was just disallowed for offside. If Mexico and Uruguay are paying attention, they should make sure to play to a scoreless draw and not take any chances.
43rd Minute: Oops, Uruguay just went off script and scored the go-ahead goal. Now, if that stands up and South Africa nets two more goals, the host nation would go through. The way France is playing right now, that's entirely possible.
Halftime: It's getting much more interesting. South Africa needs two goals to advance, assuming neither France nor Mexico scores in the second half. Conspiracy lovers are already getting their wheels churning. Remember Argentina's 6-0 win over Peru when it hosted the 1978 Cup?
51st Minute: Almost a third goal for South Africa, denied by the woodwork. Mexico has a real incentive to push forward here. Aside from staving off South Africa, winning the group means avoiding a second-round matchup with Argentina.
70th Minute: OK, Mexican fans can relax a little now. France decided to defend its honor after all. Pretty pass from Ribery to Malouda cut South Africa's lead to 2-1. It's nearly impossible for Bafana Bafana now, needing three goals in the last 20 minutes.
84th Minute: Looks like Uruguay will be the first team to lock up a second-round spot, first of perhaps five South American countries in the last 16. Mexico should be in as well, though El Tri most likely will end up with Argentina in the next match.
Injury Time: For the first time in World Cup history, the host nation is out after the group stage. It's another humiliation for France, but at least it scored a goal this time, unlike in 2002.
Fulltime: Uruguay makes it to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1990, winning the group. Mexico finishes second, and will try to get out of the Round of 16 for the first time since 1986.