Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup Tomorrow: Saturday, June 18

We’re not going to lie to you; none of these games have much in the way of curb appeal. But half the fun of the World Cup is watching some random group match turn into a classic, and the second set of group games has been fun thus far. Cross your fingers.

Netherlands v. Japan (Group E, 7:30 AM ET)

We can’t even muster a witty one-sentence preview for this one. Frankly, the Dutch should run the Japanese team off the field on talent alone. But Japan won’t beat themselves, and will undoubtedly come out in a defensive shell in an attempt to steal the 4th group point that could see them through. The Dutch will spend a fair amount of time dithering around trying to break through, and probably will do so. Not much to say beyond that.

Prediction: Netherlands 2-0 Japan

Ghana v. Australia (Group D, 10 AM)

Here, by contrast, both teams will probably play for the win in what has turned into a wide-open group following Germany’s surprise loss to Serbia. Ghana stole a win from Serbia in round one, and could take control of the group with another win here. The Ghanaians didn’t show a ton coming forward in that first match, but might not need to against an Australian team that looked like they’d just met for the first time about 15 minutes before getting pasted by Germany. Australia also lost their best player, Tim Cahill, to a red card, meaning he’ll be suspended for this match. Like Germany, Ghana have a bunch of athletic midfielders who the Australian defense will struggle to contain. Ghana lack Germany’s touch in front of goal, so another 4-0 nightmare is unlikely. But it’s a long way back for Australia.

Prediction: Ghana 2-1 Australia

Cameroon v. Denmark (Group E, 2:30 PM)

Although it was overshadowed a bit by the poor showings of big-name countries like Spain and France, Cameroon were one of the real disappointments of the first round. Almost any team with Samuel Eto’o should beat Japan, but Cameroon never really got into the game. Denmark were predictably boring against the Netherlands, rolling up into a defensive posture that worked right up until they conceded an own goal out of nowhere. Expect more defense-first thinking here, because Denmark could very well reason that Cameroon won’t be able to unlock them like the Netherlands did, and won’t want to get into a run-and-gun style game with Cameroon’s athletic attackers.

Prediction: 1-1

No comments: