10 days in, and we're down to the final stretch for half of the teams at this World Cup. So who's sitting pretty? Who's making tentative vacation plans for next week?
Let's take it from the top
Group A: The hosts and la catastrophe...
France and South Africa go into their final group game knowing that a win might see them through, but both know it's unlikely. Both are 4 and 5 goals worse off than 2nd placed Mexico. It's not impossible, but France for example are looking at a 2 goal loss for Mexico, and a 2 goal win against South Africa.
Being knocked out at this stage for both teams is a disappointment for very different reasons. The French hardly looked themselves for a while now, but are still a team that has high expectations placed upon them. They have had the most farcical of implosions that a major team has faced in recent times, and many will be glad to see the back of Domenech, even if France somehow progress from the group. Come Tuesday evening, South Africa will likely have the dubious honour of being the only host nation to get knocked out of a World Cup in the group stages. Hopefully the stadiums will still fill up despite the disappointment of the home fans.
Uruguay haven't conceded a goal in their 2 games so far, and will back themselves to finish top of this group. A draw will do for them, and a loss may still see them through, albeit in the unenviable position of facing South American rivals Argentina in the next round. The Argentines twice defeated Uruguay in qualifying, 2-1 and 1-0.
Group B: Argentina and ?
Argentina aren't guaranteed a 1st place finish in this group just yet, but they can book a place in the next round with a draw or win against Greece. If Argentina beats Greece, 2nd spot is up for grabs in the other game. South Korea hold the advantage over Nigeria, with a draw seeing them through (if Argentina win). Nigeria can feel good about their chances despite some poor showings, they're still very much in the hunt. A win against South Korea and a loss for Greece will see the Super Eagles leap frog into 2nd place, where they could face Uruguay or Mexico.
Group C: The wide open group...
With the way that these teams have been playing, Group C is wide open. It's gone from a group where many predicted an easy path for England and the USA, to all 4 sides holding their destiny in their hands. Algeria did hold England to a draw, however I still can't see them beating the USA. England may be the biggest disappointment of the tournament so far. They were in the top 3 or 4 pre-tournament favourites, but a few injuries and a goalkeeping howler have left them needing to get a result against Slovenia. A draw could see them knocked out if the USA defeats Algeria, so Cappello's men will definitely be looking for a win. If they don't get it, it's likely they won't be Cappello's men any longer.
Group D: ...just group D...
Germany began with a 4-0 drubbing of 10 man Australia, but fell to Serbia in the following game. This blew the group wide open. Australia's terrible goal difference leaves them extremely unlikely to qualify, but they could play spoiler for Serbia. If they can keep all 11 men on the field on Tuesday, I think they can pull off a draw against the Serbs. This would mean that Ghana just has to draw with Germany, and they'll not only progress from the group, but will do so in 1st place, with a likely match against...oh that's right, it's a toss up where anyone is going to finish in group C. A draw is of course going to be tough for Ghana to pull off against Germany, even with striker Miroslav Klose being suspended for the game, after a questionable sending off. That makes 2 questionable, and vital suspensions, in this group. Ghana can lose (by 1 goal) and still progress, if Serbia and Australia draw.
So that's my waffling and rambling for Tuesday and Wednesday's matches.
My predictions for next round's match ups for these groups are...
Uruguay (1st) - South Korea (2nd)
Argentina (1st) - Mexico (2nd)
England (1st) - Ghana (2nd)
Germany (1st) - USA (2nd)