South Korea vs. Greece
Probably not destined to be a classic, these are two sides with the resources to cancel one another out, both having learned to prioritize a disciplined, defensive work ethic to compensate for their limited attacking power. In that respect, though, without having watched either team lately, I’m inclined to give the edge to South Korea on the basis of the stellar performances of Lee Chung-yong for Bolton and Park Ji-sung for Manchester United over the past season.
Prediction: South Korea 1 – Greece 0
Argentina vs. Nigeria
The word is that Carlos Tevez is so up for it and hasn’t lost any of the fire that made him one of the Premiership’s most effective forwards last season that coach Maradona can’t leave him out; Argentina will start with a three-man attack of Tevez, Higuain and Messi. Against a stronger opponent than Nigeria, that might create a crippling burden on a three-man midfield composed of Gutierrez, Veron and Mascherano, given that Maradona plans to field the flattest of flat back fours. But Nigeria were a mess even before injury took Chelsea’s man-mountain Jon Obi Mikel out of the equation. Tevez and Messi are both willing to come back and fight for the ball, anyway, and against a Super Eagles side struggling to find its shape and form, I’m expecting a rout.
Prediction: Argentina 3 – Nigeria 0
USA vs. England
All the pressure is on England, in this one, and the underdog Americans have plenty with which to hurt their opponents – the pace of Landon Donovan and Jozi Altidore, and the finishing from near and far of Clint Dempsey. That said, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard — a player who can single handedly change a game — won’t be prepared to lose his first game as England captain. And that’s a sentiment shared by the awesome Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard. And the fact that Joe Cole is likely to start gives England additional guile and skill on the left.
Prediction: USA 1 – England 2
And here are the current standings of our predictions league so far (3 points for a perfect score, 1 for a correct result — we’re all doing so badly, except for our brilliant former BBC Match of the Day man Glen, that you have plenty time to catch up, so start posting your own in the comments field below):
Predictions League After Games 1 and 2:
Glen Levy 4
Andrew Downie 1
Steve Solomon 1
Ishaan Tharoor 1
Tony Karon 0
John Carlin 0