Original Footy takes a brief look at the group matches for teams who have everything to play for and offer our opinion on who will come out on top. In this part we survey the teams from groups E through to H.
Group E: Wednesday 9pm
Ecuador vs France & Honduras vs Switzerland
Barring a 9 goal swing where both Ecuador and Switzerland won by heavy margins, France have secured their passage into the last 16. In other words, the French are through to the next round. This leaves one place up for grabs where Switzerland, Ecuador and technically, although there would be even longer odds on this happening than France not qualifying, Honduras. Ecuador have the tougher match but don’t rule out the possibility that they could snatch a draw from France, although a win seems unlikely. Switzerland will fancy their chances to get the all important win against the Hondurans, however, Honduras did manage to earn a goalless draw against the Swiss in the last World Cup so anything could happen. Expect the Swiss to edge their way through but don’t be surprised if the Ecuadorians do manage to spring a shock.
Group F: Wednesday 5pm
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Iran & Nigeria vs Argentina
Argentina have secured qualification and will most likely be joined by Nigeria in the last 16 who are 3 points clear of Iran. However, if the Argentine’s can find the attacking form that we know they’re capable of and Iran can find a way past the disappointing Bosnians then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Iran could qualify. A lot will depend on whether Bosnia turn up to play for national pride or whether their heads are on the plane home already and aren’t fully focused. It will be a surprise if Nigeria don’t hang on to second spot but stranger things have happened in football than Iran pinching qualification to the last 16.
Group G: Thursday 5pm
Portugal vs Ghana & USA vs Germany
Everything is up for grabs in this group with no side fully qualified or completely out of reach as of yet. If Germany and the USA draw then they will both go through, however, if one of them loses then it gives either Ghana or Portugal the opportunity to nab the second qualifying place and reach the last 16. In reality, it will be a major surprise if Germany’s superior goal difference wouldn’t be enough to at least secure them second place in the group but the USA’s place is under threat if they suffer defeat to the Germans and either Ghana or Portugal, if there is a huge goal difference swing, defeat one another. This group is pretty close to call but I suspect the Germans will beat the USA narrowly and Ghana and Portugal will draw, leaving the Germans and the USA to qualify to the next round.
Group H: Thursday 9pm
Algeria vs Russia & South Korea vs Belgium
Belgium are through to the next round of the World Cup but there is still one place to play for between the Algerians, Russians and, far less likely, the South Koreans. It is difficult to see South Korea firing enough goals past Belgium to give themselves a high enough goal difference to finish above Algeria, in the event of a draw between them and Russia, or Russia, in the event of a victory for the Russians over Algeria so we will rule them out. It will, therefore, most probably be a “winner takes all” scenario between Algeria and Russia in a match that is pretty tough to call. Algeria only need a draw to join Belgium in the next round and have been more impressive than Russia in the tournament to date, however, the Russian’s are coached by the wily Fabio Capello who knows what it takes to achieve victory at the highest level so they could sneak through. Expect a very close and cagey game but I will back the Algerians to hang on and reach the last 16.