Will Greece roll the dice and play for a draw in the hopes the Nigerians can beat South Korea? It’s not an enviable task having to do better against Argentina than Korea do against Nigeria…
* Maradona has left Heinze, Higuain, Samuel, Tevez, Mascherano and Di Maria on the bench. All have previously started in the Argies first two games. Most teams relegating the likes of Tevez and Higuain to the bench would essentially be saying we’re fielding a more defensive squad for this game. Not Argentina. When you’ve got Aguero and Milito as replacements it’s not much of a downgrade (plus you’ve still got Messi on the field).
* Greece are clearly adopting the sit back and counter through Samaras approach. Problem is Samaras is hardly prolific when you take him out of Scotland where he plays for Celtic.
* 23rd minute: Argentina work a cross into the box and have six players in there to attack it. Greece put a cross in in the 20th minute and had one player in the box. These teams have very different approaches to this game.
*Katsouranis with the cynical foul on Aguero picks up a yellow. There’s been far too many cautions handed out by refs so far but that was exactly the sort of foul that should be discouraged. Glad to see the card come out.
* The quality of balls to Samaras is troubling Argenina. If Greece can keep testing the Argentinian back four with these well hit diagonal balls they may just find some joy. They’ll just need Samaras to finish the chance.
* Watch for Greece to come out of their shell in the second half as South Korea have just tied Nigeria 1-1 after going down a goal early on. If the scores stay this way, Greece is out and Korea is into the second round.
* In a World Cup marred by sub-standard goalkeeping (including even renowned keepers like Casillas – the feet first slide against Switzerland just before they scored suggested he just doesn’t have the stomach for the position anymore) Argentina’s Romero has not put a foot wrong. Great decisions on crosses followed by solid punches. The only other keeper who comes to mind right away as being as consistently solid is New Zealand’s Paston.
The stats are not kind to Greece. Zero shots and 35% of the possession to Argentina’s eight shots (four on target). Fouls are running 11 to 4. You can guess who’s done most of the fouling.
They’ve just shown the two goals in the South Korea v Nigeria game. As someone whose full time job is to coach kids, I still find it utterly shocking the quality of the defending in this World Cup. Both goals involve outside backs ball watching and have an opponent either slip in front or in behind to finish what should have been a cross they should never have had a sniff at. The first thing defenders are taught about defending crosses is to get goal side of the attacker and get to the ball first. It’s not rocket science. Get there first and clear the ball!
Second half is under way.
* Greece continue to look dangerous through Samaras. He finally got a strike at goal after being released through another 30 yard diagonal ball from midfield. If he’s been more accurate, and gone near post, Greece would be up 1-0 right now. That chance was just as good as anything Argentina had in the first half.
* Early second half goal for South Korea means Greece are in serious trouble. They need to beat Argentina now and do so by two goals. The more likely path for them now is really to hope for a Nigeria fightback.
* Resignation is seeping into the Greek squad already. Hopes for a 2-0 win or Nigeria getting a result against South Korea seem to be fading.
* Maradona has handed starts to several players today who haven’t featured much to this point. The only one who has made a case to start the next game is left back Clemente Rodriguez. Not sure if Maradona would dump Heinze for him though.
* A lifeline for Greece and Nigeria tie it up against South Korea! One goal for Greece or one more for Nigeria and they go through.
* Well that was a short lifeline. Argentina go up 1-0 off the corner kick. Demichelis gets a second whack at it after Milito got in the way of his header. Did it hit his arm? Looks like it did.
* Milito replaced by serial penalty kick misser Martin Palermo
* I’ve obviously blogging the wrong game. It’s all on the line now in the Nigeria v South Korea game. If Nigeria can pull out the win with another goal, THEY go through and South Korea and Greece go home. They are miraculously Africa’s best bet now to go through to the second round.
* Victor Obinna has just absolutely roasted two shots just wide of the Korean goal as they head into three minutes of time added on.
* Palermo’s clinical finish on Messi’s rebound runs contrary to his form on PK’s 😉
* It’s all over. South Korea hold on against Nigeria and will go through to play Uruguay while Argentina will take on Mexico in what could be one of the more tantalizing second round match ups.