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Seconds Out, Round Two

June 18th, 2006 by · No Comments · Armchair Fan, Football

One comment that has been heard consistently in the press over the last few days is that this is a tournament with no upsets, no shock results. We’ll explore that later in the week in more detail but you could argue that the group stage has gone almost exactly to form. By that we mean what the bookies are saying, not Fifas farcical ranking system.

You could argue that Ghana’s win over Czech Republic, in group E, last night was an upset but we considered the Czechs to be ludicrously over-tipped [ranked world number 2 by Fifa?, please] and Ghana have been the most successful African team of the last 15-20 years, winning the World Under-17 title twice, finishing second at the World Youth Championship twice and winning the African Cup of Nations four times.

As you go through the groups and look at the results so far, and the likely results over the next week, it’s clear that the second stage will feature the usual suspects. Group A sees Germany and Ecuador already qualified, but probably not in that order. In Group B England are through and will be joined by Sweden unless Trinidad & Tobago beat Paraguay by a hatful. Group C has been dominated by Argentina and Holland and in Group D Portugal are through and will almost definitely be joined by Mexico.

The only excitement, at the moment, is in Groups E and G. Group E is now wide open with the result of Ghana against USA possibly deciding the fate of all four teams. Group F will see Brazil and Australia through after today’s results, Group G, like E, is wide open but will probably be decided by the France v. South Korea game this evening. Expect them both to go through. Group H will see Spain winning the group by a mile and we expect Tunisia to finish ahead of Saudi Arabia and a disappointing Ukraine.

All of that crystal ball gazing would mean a second round make-up that looked like this: Germany v. Sweden, Argentina v. Angola, England v. Ecuador, Portugal v. Netherlands, Italy v. Australia, South Korea v. Tunisia, Brazil v. Ghana and Spain v. France.

Our expected winners of the second round games are in bold.

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