13 Days. Never has so much expectation been placed on England before, a result is required, a win against the Slovenians. Its not all about England, Germany could be out if they aren't too careful. USA need to perform and Australia, ideally need to try and keep all 11 men on the pitch. World Cup Day 13, my word, we should be in for a treat and a half.
At least we're not as bad as France
Groups A and B are now all sorted. Six teams are now confirmed for the next round, six teams are confirmed to be heading home (and in France's case, in second class). Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina and South Korea all join the Netherlands and Brazil in the Round 16, while the hosts South Africa, France, Greece and Nigeria won't be taking any further part.
France, did go out in style, losing 2-1 to South Africa. They also managed to get a player sent off and Raymond Domenech even refused to shake Carlos Alberto Parreira's hand. Brilliant stuff. Glad they go out without even winning a game and stone dead last.
Greece are also out, and for the first time since they believed in the Gods, they went into attacking mode. Ultimately, it didn't pay off as Argentina (or RGentina now) ended up with a comfortable 2-0 win.
In one of the games of the tournament, South Korea got the all important point against Nigeria in a 2-2 draw. But it could have been so much more for the Africans had Yakabu (or Yak-a-boo if you're Greg Brady) scored from two yard out, into an open goal.
And Mexico v Uruguay happened, both teams went through.
I'll end this section off with something that Janna mentioned in the comments yesterday. 5 Live allow a bloke called David Henson to write a parody song about the World Cup every Monday. His latest effort, which I've possibly nicked for the header, is nothing short than brilliant. Do check it out before any of today's games, probably before Englands as it still applies then.
Slovenia. USA. England. Algeria. Ghana. Germany. Serbia. Australia. Any of these teams could qualify, any of these teams could be playing their final game today. It is ridiculously close in both groups. Group C sees three points between first placed Slovenia and fourth placed Algeria, its the same in Group D.
England have the weight of the nation behind them. Fail and a catastrophic moment in recent English football history occurs. In what was originally seen as an easy group, they have drawn two games. In both games they have been unimpressive, lacking the desire, especially against Algeria. Everyone has come under critisicm (except for, possibly the first time in his career, David James). John Terry then made a blunder during a press conference in which he had to apologise for, this isn't the most glamorous moment in football history.
Germany should have qualified already. But they find themselves in a must win match against group leaders Ghana. A perfect performance against Australia was cancelled out when they lost to Serbia 1-0. They even missed a penalty. Ghana will be worthy opponents, and they know they could be eliminated if results go against them in the Serbia-Australia match. It is a tricky game for Germany and they don't want to slip up. Ghana is Africa's best chance of a team in the knockout stages.
Slovenia v England, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Kickoff: 15:00 (GMT+1), BBC1
This game is bigger than massive. Players need to perform for England. Slovenia have found themselves to be difficult opponents, beating Algeria and drawing to the USA. A result against England will see Slovenia qualify for the next round, a defeat could also see them through assuming Algeria and the USA draw. For England, they must win this game, anything but will likely see them out. This game should have an England win written all over it, but I am not so sure. Slovenia will fancy their chances and if star players like Robert Koren perform. But England will be playing in red, on the BBC. A lucky combination? Lets hope so.
Key Players: Robert Koren (Slovenia), Steven Gerrard (England)
USA v Algeria, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Kickoff: 15:00 (GMT+1), BBC Red Button
The English will be keeping an eye out on this game as well. The result from this could have a bearing on if England go through. USA will qualify if they win, if they draw, they must hope that England loser or fail to score as many as them in a draw. Algeria qualify if they win, a draw will not be good enough. USA have shown they have the capability to score, but in my eyes I think they can play better. Algeria played alright against England, but that didn't take much, I don't think they stand much chance of beating them.
Key Players: Landon Donovan (USA), Madjid Bougherra (Algeria)
Australia v Serbia, Mbombela Stadium, Kickoff: 19:30 (GMT+1), ITV4
Poor Australia stand little chance of qualifying, the must beat Serbia and then hope that Ghana beat Germany. If that game is a draw they need to beat Serbia by eight goals, an unlikely task. Serbia just need a win and they would be through, and if Ghana v Germany is drawn they would go through as winners. They can also draw this game and go through as long as Germany get beat. This game is hard to call, in my eyes Serbia have underperformed and were highly lucky to beat Germany. However, Australia haven't been the best team of the tournament and with their disciplinary record as it is too. This should be an attacking match with both teams going for the win.
Key Players: Tim Cahill (Australia), Nicola Zigic (Serbia)
Ghana v Germany, Soccer City Stadium, Kickoff: 19:30 (GMT+1), ITV1
The top two, my oh my this could be an epic. Ghana will look for a draw, that will guide them safely into the next round. A defeat could see them in the clutches of Australia or Serbia should either of them win. Germany need a win ideally, a draw along with a Serbia win will see them out. Now that will be a massive shock especially after a big performance against Australia. Miroslav Klose is suspended for this game for the Germans, the German sounding Cacau will probably be a crucial man in the German attack. They will go for the win, and I fear for the Ghanian defence.
Key Players: Kevin-Prince Boateng (Ghana), Cacau (Germany) - If Jerome Boateng plays for Germany, they will be the first siblings to play for different countries at the World Cup.
As ever, here are my predictions for today:
- Slovenia 1-2 England
- USA 2-0 Algeria
- Australia 0-1 Serbia
- Ghana 1-1 Germany
There we have it, what a day for football. This is going to be fantastic (and quite possibly, unbearable to watch).