Posted by: mdegeorge | June 11, 2010

And the World Cup winner is…

The tournament hasn’t started yet, but the Sports Doctor can give you an exclusive look at just who will move on from each group and who will hoist the FIFA World Cup Trophy on July 11. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of opportunities to tell me how horribly wrong it is later (and maybe for a few creative revisions).

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Group A

Mexico and Uruguay advance. Hosts South Africa managed two draws as does a disappointing France. Mexico wins the group with two wins and a draw, and Uruguay ekes out a spot in the Round of 16 with a scintillating 2-2 draw with Mexico on the final day of group play.

Group B

Argentina and South Korea advance. The Albiceleste have no problems, waltzing through the group and punctuating the effort with a 4-1 trouncing of Greece. Slovakia grinds out a win over the Greeks and slips by Nigeria. Nigeria and Greece are only able to manage draws.

Group CEngland and USA advance. The Three Lions win a 3-2 thriller over the Red, White, and Blue to start things off. But as has often been the case, the Americans rebound to narrowly get by Slovenia 1-0 and blow out a Northern African opponent with survival on the line yet again (a 3-1 defeat of Algeria). England drops only two points as Slovenia earns a draw on the final day of the group stage. But the Slovenes’ four points fall short. Algeria is unable to earn a result, managing just two goals.

Group D

Germany and Australia advance. Germany wins all three games with the closest call being a 1-0 win over Serbia. Australia is able to rebound from an opening day loss to Germany to topple Ghana and holds on for a dramatic draw against Serbia to ensure progress. The Serbs rue an opening day draw against Ghana and are unable to escape the group. Ghana’s point against Serbia is the only one the banged up team is able to claim.

Group E

Netherlands and Cameroon advance. Finally, an African team is able to progress to the knockout stages. They do it in dramatic fashion, allowing the Dutch to win by only one goal while nervously waiting out the results of Denmark-Japan in the other fixture on the final day. The Dutch romp through three games with a plus-8 goal differential, including a 4-0 blanking of Japan. Denmark misses the chance to advance by drawing with Cameroon. Hapless Japan is unable to gain a result.

Group F

Italy and Slovakia advance. The defending champions aren’t exactly pretty, but they do get the job done. They skate by Paraguay before handling New Zealand and holding Slovakia in a boring stalemate to advance. The Slovaks managed to advance despite scoring just once—against New Zealand—thanks to two scoreless draws. Paraguay also suffers from offensive anemia, scoring just once against the All Whites in what turns out to be a consolation victory. New Zealand doesn’t score or notch a result, but acquits themselves well against top-notch defensive squads.

Group G

Brazil and Portugal advance. The two best teams in Group G display their worthiness for the Round of 16 with a stunning 2-2 draw in the final day of the group stage. Brazil opens with a statement: a 5-0 shellacking of an overmatched North Korea squad. Meanwhile, Portugal stumbles to a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast despite having the lion’s share of the chances. The Elephants aren’t as lucky against Brazil, as the Samba Kings penalize them with a 3-1 defeat. Ivory Coast does all they can in the final match against North Korea, but it isn’t enough. North Korea manages just one goal in the short run, finishing with a minus-10 goal differential.

Group H

Spain and Chile advance. Spain wins all three matches in this wild yet draw-ridden group. Chile advances from a crowd of three teams with two draws each thanks to their 1-0 loss to Spain, the narrowest margin based on goals allowed. Spain hangs three on Switzerland to consign them to last in the group, while Honduras can only manage a 2-0 margin.

Round of 16

Mexico, Argentina, England, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, and Spain advance. South Korea puts up a valiant effort against Mexico before El Tri triumphs 1-0. Argentina and England overcome several uncomfortable moments to triumph over Uruguay and Australia, respectively. The US fights valiantly and even leads early in the second half, but Germany breaks their hearts yet again, 3-2. The Netherlands glide past Slovakia despite missing several chances while Italy requires extra time to dispatch Cameroon in a nervy encounter. Brazil cruises to the quarters at the expense of Chile. Spain and Portugal turn in the match of the round and possibly the tournament before an extra-time winner seals passage for the European Champs.

Quarterfinals

Argentina, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain advance. The Argentines come out sluggish but use an explosive second half burst to eliminate Mexico. Penalty kicks emerge for the first time for none other than England, who can’t overcome the hoodoo and bow out to the Germans. Netherlands topples an Italy squad uncharacteristically lacking in fight, while Spain is pushed to the limit yet again, taking Brazil to sudden death penalty kicks before emerging 1-1 (8-7).

Semifinals

Argentina and Spain advances. Argentina has its first one-goal game of the tournament in overcoming a valiant comeback attempt by the Germans. In the other semi, the Dutch run comes to an end short of glory yet again as their offense goes out at the worst possible time and an exhausted Spain is finally able to end things in 90 minutes with a 1-0 win.

Finals

All the soccer finally catches up to Spain as the Argentine speed gives them problems at the back all day. The devilish Argentine attack reeks havoc and deserves to find the back of the net more than the twice they end the game with. But it’s enough to overcome the heavy-legged Spaniards, 2-1, to send Diego Maradona running naked through the streets of Buenos Aires.

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