Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 32: Spain 2, Honduras 0

We're half way there. This was Game 32 of 64. The pace will pick up a bit tomorrow as there will be four games a day instead of three to accommodate the last games of pool play being played simultaneously.

Group H is shaping up for a wide open finish. All four teams are still alive, though Honduras would need Chile to beat Spain and to make up a difference of four in the goal differential category. Since they've not seriously threatened goal in two games, this seems unlikely.

But Spain may live to regret not jumping on Honduras when they had a chance. Unlike Portugal in the early match didn't want to leave the door open for the Ivory Coast (whom they had tied and had already played Brazil), Spain seemed content, almost relieved when they finally broke the ice with David Villa's first goal. (That goal, by the way, while not quite a Maradona run, was a beautiful possession keeping one on three challenge that culminated in the player making his own shot. Aesthetically it wasn't as spectacular as a few we've seen, but it will be on the short list for best goals of the tournament.)

Perhaps most troublesome, they missed a penalty kick late in the game that would have been the third goal. This would have no outcome on the game but could have a huge outcome on the tournament. Even if Spain were to beat Chile, they can't guarantee they won't end in a three way tie between Chile and Switzerland. Chile's goal differential is currently +2, Spain's +1, and Switzerland's is even. Were Spain to win, they'd have to outscore Chile by at least 1 goal, so they would move ahead on goal differential and be in. That mean's Chile has to play for a win or hope that Switzerland doesn't score big against Honduras. Here's the thing, though, if the Swiss post a large number on Honduras, they could leapfrog Spain to the first position. So while Spain can make sure they go through by winning, they are less certain to get first place (though they still could) and avoid a match up with Brazil in the Round of 16.

Then again, the team in second gets, most likely, Portugal, who seem to have turned on the jets. It's probably pick your poison. Could it be possible that someone might actually prefer Brazil. (It need be said, too, that with Kaka out, there is no guarantee that Brazil will beat Portugal. Since they are already safely through to the Round of 16, they could rest players.)

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