As the mid-day hour creeps in on this Wednesday, all 32 team have now made at least one appearance in the World Cup. Below, we go through group by group summarizing their efforts to date in a few sentences or less.
1. Mexico (1 pt) – The tie with South Africa came as a bit of a disappointment after the dominating first half, but an upcoming game against struggling France leaves El Tri a chance to gain control of the group.
2. South Africa (1 pt) – They continued the tradition of the host country not losing the first game. Can they make some history and advance?
3. France (1 pt) – The poor play continues for the talented French side. Remaining games against Mexico and South Africa are winnable, however.
4. Uruguay (1 pt) – Stellar defense against France led to a tie, but if they want to advance, they’re going to need to put the ball in the net.
1. South Korea (3 pts) – The relative ease of a 2-0 victory against the 04 Euro champs Greece came as a shock. South Korea is poised to advance because of it.
2. Argentina (3 pts) – They won, Messi looked good despite not scoring, and Maradona didn’t become a sideshow. That’s a triple win as far as Argentina is concerned.
3. Nigeria (0 pts) – A relatively new group of Nigerians played tough against Argentina, but could not find an equalizer. Advancement looks tough being behind 2 teams by 3 points.
4. Greece (0 pts) – A disappointing effort by a team many considered to be a dark horse likely means they won’t advance without a holy intervention.
1. Slovenia (3 pts) – A lucky goal leads to the top of the group standings and a loud mouth player guaranteeing victory over the U.S. Good luck, Slovenia (but not really).
2. England (1 pt) – They are a goalie cock-up away from having 3 points, but Fab Capello’s side needs to regain the form it had in qualifying. Their effort in South Africa has been lackluster to date.
3. U.S.A. (1 pt) – Dempsey’s goal was lucky (seems to be a recurring theme in this group), but the U.S. will take a draw with the group’s best team and 2 matches to go.
4. Algeria (0 pts) – Matches left against England and the U.S. will make it tough to climb out of the cellar of Group C.
1. Germany (3 pts) – The 4-0 beat-down of Australia goes down as the first round’s most impressive display. Ghana appears to be the only real challenger left.
2. Ghana (3 pts) – They needed a penalty kick to score against Serbia, but in a tournament where goals are coming at a premium, Ghana will gladly accept the 3 points.
3. Serbia (0 pts) – 3 points behind with Germany left to play doesn’t bode well for the Serbs advancing.
4. Australia (0 pts) – A negative 4 goal deficit and their best player suspended for the next game because of a red card spells O-V-E-R.
1. Netherlands (3 pts) – The 2-0 victory was not as impressive as Holland could have played, but starting out with a victory is always the goal of a title contender.
2. Japan (3 pts) – The Blue Samurai took out a tough African team in Cameroon. A win against Denmark likely means they advance.
3. Cameroon (0 pts) – They’re not out of it yet with a small goal differential, but a game against Holland will be tough, especially if they’re needing a favorable result.
4. Denmark (0 pts) – The own goal hurt against the Netherlands and will make it tough to advance.
1. Italy (1 pt) – The Italians began defense of their title with a draw against the second best team in their group. Two wins against sub-par opponents will put them through to the round of 16 easily.
2. Paraguay (1 pt) – Paraguay has to be ecstatic with the draw against Italy. The path of advancement is achievable now.
3. New Zealand (1 pt) – A late goal gave the Kiwis the tie which is as good as it will probably get for New Zealand in this tournament.
4. Slovakia (1 pt) – If they had held on to the lead against New Zealand, they would be leading the group and have a better shot at advancing. Now, they need to upset either Italy or Paraguay.
1. Brazil (3 pts) – The 2-1 victory over North Korea wasn’t what their fans expected, but 3 points is 3 points no matter what the final score is.
2. Ivory Coast (1 pt) – You could see the strategy unfolding for both Ivory Coast and Portugal: draw against each other, take their lumps from Brazil, beat the living hell out of North Korea, and then pray you have the goal differential to advance.
3. Portugal (1 pt) – See Ivory Coast.
4. North Korea (0 pts) – Despite the fact that their fans at home could not see the game, or that the fans in the stands were actually paid Chinese actors, the North Koreans performed admirably against Brazil.
1. Chile (3 pts) – The second best South American team in qualifying did as we all expected: they won. Now, they can set their sights on winning the group and avoiding Brazil next round.
2. Switzerland (3 pts) – The Swiss pulled the upset of the tournament so far by beating the second-ranked Spain 1-0. Can they advance with that stingy defense?
3. Honduras (0 pts) – The last CONCACAF representative played well against Chile, but they didn’t have enough in them to pull a draw. With games left against Switzerland and Spain, their World Cup run is not looking well.
4. Spain (0 pts) – World Cup favorite out in the group stage? It’s possible after that 1-0 loss just moments ago. Spain continues its trend of mediocrity on the world’s biggest stage.