Groups A and B Take Shape

Group A: Mexico's 2-0 victory over France today has made Group A almost come into focus. At the moment, at least one of Uruguay and Mexico will go on to the next stage,. France and the hosts, South Africa, are not yet mathematically eliminated, but will need a favorable result from the Uruguay-Mexico match. Here are the scenarios for each from toughest to easiest:

 

  • South Africa
    Giving up the third goal against Uruguay might have been the fatal stroke for the Bafana Bafana. Without it, they'd be even with France on points and goal difference, but ahead of them in goals scored. As it stands, with their -3 goal difference, South Africa needs to beat France and hope that someone wins the Uruguay-Mexico match, and furthermore, hope that the goals total from both those matches reverses their goal deficit. A tall order, but US fans in particular know that it can happen.
  • France
    In a similar, but slightly better position than South Africa. They also need a blowout in both matches, but with one less goal to make up. Domenech's reign as coach is set to end after this World Cup as he makes way for Laurent Blanc, and after this performance I'm sure many will be glad to see him go.
  • Mexico and Uruguay
    Have the luxury of being able to lose and still get through, as long as the goal difference isn't huge between both matches. A draw of any kind will see both teams into the next round, but there's still a lot to play for, because finishing position will determine who plays who in Group B.

 

Speaking of which, Group B: Argentina's thrashing of South Korea has put them solidly in pole position for first place, which means that fight for the top spot in Group A is a fight to avoid facing Messi and Co. At the same time, it's also possible that they could be eliminated. Scenarios, again from hardest to easiest:

 

  • Nigeria
    With zero points and a -2 goal difference, one might think that Nigeria has no chance, but the truth is there's a sliver of hope. To begin with, Greece is Argentina's next target, and Nigeria will hope the South Americans continue their winning ways. Additionally, in Nigeria's final match against South Korea, they'll be looking for as big a victory as possible to buff up their goal difference and goals scored. Anything less than outright victory and the Super Eagles will go home.
  • Greece
    A draw could be enough for them, if Nigeria beats South Korea, as it would give them four points, with Korea and Nigeria remaining at three. They could even stand to lose, if Nigeria beat South Korea by exactly one more goal than Greece gives up. At the same time, victory might not be enough, because a victory by South Korea would put them equal on points, but Greece would have to make up a deficit in goals scored and are the losers in head-to-head. On the other side of things, a Greek victory could even threaten Argentina's hold on first place or even qualification, if it were by at least three goals. In other words, it's both complicated and simple for Greece: complicated because of the scenarios and the fact they're facing Argentina, and simple because all they can do is play their match and try to score as many goals as possible.
  • South Korea
    Basically in the same boat as Greece, but with a slight edge because of their goals scored and the fact they hold the head-to-head over the Greeks. Like the Greeks, a big enough victory could give them first, if the Argentina-Greece match goes the right way.
  • Argentina
    A draw or a win will guarantee their status as group winners and that's what their target will be. They could get through with a loss and the proper result from the other game, but they'll be looking to build on their performance against the South Koreans. As mentioned before, they could also crash out with a major loss and a big victory for South Korea in the other match, but I don't rate that as likely to happen.
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