The Cup Running Over

June 24, 2010 4:21 PM

Friday Preview: Groups G and H

In Group G, it looks like it's going to be Brazil and Portugal, barring some shocking results. Group H is wide open but don't be surprised if Spain ends up claiming the top spot as expected.


Ivory Coast - North Korea: Barring a very unforeseen development in this group, both these teams are headed home after today. The only way that doesn't happen is if Ivory Coast somehow matches Portugal's seven-goal victory cushion against North Korea, which at least dictates an extremely wide-open game here. The North Koreans will be playing to save face -- if not some very tragic consequences at home when they return.

Brazil-Portugal: This is the game impolitically described by Brazilian coach Dunga as Brazil A vs. Brazil B, referring, of course, to Portugal's propensity to naturalize a Brazilian player when it needs one. Both teams are very strong defensively, which dictates a low-scoring game, maybe even a draw. Assuming Spain can pull out a top seed in Group H, the loser will have to face the Spanish in the next round, so there is something at stake, other than honor, of course, which is what always happens when a colonial power meets its former colony.


Honduras-Switzerland: Poor Honduras. In a group in which it's likely that the top three teams will all finish with six points, the Swiss will be looking to pour it on and run-up the score to improve its goal differential. That may leave them occasionally open at the back but Honduras hasn't scored in its first two games and is unlikely to do so now. On paper, at least, a rout.

Spain must win on Friday to remain alive in the tournament.

Spain-Chile: An intriguing game that Spain must win to survive. Normally, a team in Chile's position would play for a low-scoring draw but the Chileans so far have played one of the most wide-open tactical formations in the tournament. Their Coach Marcello Bielsa is something of an odd genius, however, and he could surprisingly shake things up for this game. On paper, the Spanish win but this Spain team has so far been out of sync and no team from South America has yet been beaten.

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