Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 14 (Arrivederci, Azzurri!)

Down goes Italy!

My main hopes for Group F were for Italy to not make it to the knockout stage and New Zealand to not be completely shut out, and both of these hopes happened in reality today, after Italy lost 3-2 to Slovakia and New Zealand tied 0-0 with Paraguay. Paraguay ended up topping the group with five points and Slovakia were second with four, followed by New Zealand with three (3 ties = undefeated baby!) and the Italians drawing up the rear with two. I picked Paraguay and Italy, so I ended up 50% right, but very happy to have picked Italy incorrectly. Both finalists from the last World Cup are going home, which hopefully means a better final this time.

In Group E, the Netherlands and Japan both won (over Cameroon and Denmark) to make it to the elimination stage going away. I picked the Netherlands and ... Cameroon, who ended up losing every match, but it's another 1/2 right pick. Now the Dutch play Slovakia and Japan plays Paraguay in two E/F matchups that nobody picked correctly.

Tomorrow (Day 15) brings the final group games for Groups G and H. Brazil and Portugal play a meaningless game with both teams pretty much clinched (the Ivory Coast has to beat North Korea by nine or more goals to make it interesting) in G, while Group H breaks down to a three way battle between Switzerland, Spain, and Chile with the upper hand while Honduras plays its last match before going home.

We could end up with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, and the USA all topping their groups. Let's hear it for the dancingest hemisphere of them all -- the Western Hemisphere!!

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