It’s do-or-die time

Four matches, two almost-knockout and we are nearing the do-or-die stages of the 2006 FIFA World CupTM

Group A is pretty much sorted with Germany and Ecuador on 6 points each and no chance for anyone else to go through. Their match would in effect be important in deciding who they play in the second round. And that’s where it gets tricky.

Germany would start favourites in this match and would therefore finish top of the group in a position to play the second placed team in Group B. This would depend on how the two matches in that group-to be played after the Group A matches-turn out. England should beat Sweden and end with 9 points. As a result, Sweden would end up with just 4 points and be at the mercy of the result from the Paraguay v Trinidad & Tobago match. On current form, one would have to bet their money on T&T. A win would take T&T on to 4 points and put them on level terms with Sweden. And then it comes down to goal difference. Sweden would come out top on that. So considering this to be the worst case scenario, Sweden are well placed to go through, unless they lose so badly that their goal difference takes a beating.

Taking a closer look at the Sweden v England match, England have steadily improved and are now looking like a good unit. Rooney is back, Beckham is hitting the ball into the right areas, Gerrard has a goal, Lampard should score soon and the defence is as solid as ever.

The only real problem for England is poor finishing, something that almost cost them the game against T&T. Peter Crouch is not the most nimble-footed players on the squad and did mess up a couple of easy chances. They cannot afford to do that against Sweden. Although they are through, they would rather finish on top for psychological reasons and of course, it would be easier to play Ecuador than Germany so early on.

To their credit, the Swedes have come on very well after an indifferent start. Their win against Paraguay was crucial to their chances and confidence. Henrik Larsson, the ever-present forward, is still making waves in opposition defence while Zlatan Ibrahimovich has made some major strides over the last few years. This is the time to deliver.

Germany, thanks mainly to home advantage and greater experience, should have it easy against Ecuador. But be warned, that this is the team which shocked Poland and then proved that it was not a fluke by beating Costa Rica.

But the things that would be top on England’s and Germany’s agendas are avoiding each other in the second round. For the winner of the first quarterfinal (which in all probability would feature England) will play the winner of Argentina v Mexico/Angola (assuming Mexico lose to Portugal and Angola beat Iran and have a better goal difference).

All-in-all, the exciting segment of the Cup is here and every match here on is a mouth-watering prospect. Getting ahead of ourselves? Maybe…

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  1. wonderful blog. Thanks!

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