World Cup Previews for Groups G and H
by Celso Chamochumbi - 6/22/2006
Get more World Cup betting information including betting bonuses, World Cup odds and our famous World Cup picks, which in 2006 earned $100 bettors over ten times their initial investment. ($100 bettors earned $1,820 click here for details)
On Friday, the first round comes to a close. The infinite scenarios being cast about this week regarding tiebreakers and goal differential will no longer matter as all games from Saturday onward will simply be reduced to the familiar "win or go home" refrain.
By and large, the games from groups G and H have been an afterthought during the first round due to the fairly unbalanced composition of the groups. Of the eight teams, only Spain has emerged within discussions of the squads capable of having a lasting impact on the tournament. Even that possibility, however, is severely mitigated by the fact that Spain could face Brazil in the quarterfinal round.
Otherwise, the intrigue surrounds the games in Group G, as France, Switzerland, and South Korea all have a second-round pass at stake on Friday.
The evening matches feature France versus Togo and South Korea opposite Switzerland.
Currently, Switzerland is in first place with four points, and the Swiss enjoy a goal differential of +2. A win or tie would guarantee them first place in the group.
Meanwhile, South Korea has also earned four points, but has a goal differential of plus one goal. The Red Dragons are only guaranteed a pass with a victory.
France enters the day in third place and with a goal differential of zero. However, if the French win by two or more, and there is a tie in the other match, France bypasses South Korea in the standings.
The best Togo could do is earn third place in the group with a victory.
- South Korea and Switzerland will take the field at AWD Arena in Hanover.
Bodog.com lists Switzerland as the favorite at 'even' money, with South Korea coming back as a +290 underdog. The draw is at +190. The total has not been released.
- Switzerland posted shutouts in each of their first two matches.
- In its last World Cup appearance (1994), Switzerland advanced to the second round before losing to Spain.
- Switzerland's coach, Kobi Kuhn, has remained relatively low profile during the tournament, stating only that he was relieved by the win over Togo because it meant that his team did not have to necessarily win to advance to the next stage.
- South Korea continues to seemingly field a twelfth man disguised as a referee. In 2002, a controversial non-call on a ball that went out of bounds led to a game winning goal. More recently, a French header that clearly entered the goal went unnoticed by the assistant referee, and kept the Red Dragons within striking distance.
- South Korea has trailed in both games, with all three of their goals occurring in the second half.
- Neither team has indicated that it will rest players with cautions.
Simultaneously, France will try to play its way into the second round versus Togo in Cologne.
Bodog.com lists the heavily-favored French side at -600, while a Togolese victory means a +1000 pay out. The draw is at +550, and the total has also yet to be posted.
- France will be without star playmaker Zinedine Zidane and defender Eric Abidal
- The French must win by two goals to entertain thoughts of advancing, although they have only scored one goal in their last four World Cup matches.
- Togo will exit a tournament where it was more entertaining off the field rather than on it. A huge disappointment, the Togolese did their damage off the field, from threatening to boycott matches to firing and then rehiring their coach in the days leading up to their first match.
- Togolese midfielder Alaixys Romao is suspended for this match.
This group could easily be reduced to one country: Spain.
However, with the uncertainty of Group F, the second place finisher here may actually have a decent possibility of landing a quarterfinal spot.
Spain sits atop the standings with six points. Ukraine recovered from its tournament-opening collapse against Spain to defeat the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 4-0, and regain position of second place. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia remain in contention with one point each.
Spain plays Saudi Arabia in Kaiserslautern. The Spanish are also very heavily favored, entering at -665, with an astonishing +1200 in line with a Saudi victory. The draw stands at +550.
- Spain has not lost under Head Coach Luis Aragones. The streak dates to 2004, and spans 24 games.
- Cesc Fabregas and Carles Puyol both enter the game with one yellow card. Coach Aragones has not yet announced whether they will play.
- Spanish striker Fernando Torres, who has scored three goals thus far, will be rested.
- Fellow forwards David Villa and Raul Gonzalez will only play one half, according to statements Aragones made to the media earlier this week.
The other game from Group H pits Ukraine against Tunisia in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
- With a win or a draw, Ukraine is assured of a spot in the round of 16.
- Tunisia advances if it wins, and Spain does not lose to Saudia Arabia.
- Ukraine is listed as a -175 favorite, with Tunisia commanding a +475 return. The draw is at +250.
- Both teams have shown to be porous defensively, allowing four and three goals to Spain, respectively. Besides the Spain game, however, Ukraine had not allowed a goal in its six other matches of 2006.
- Ukraine Coach Oleg Blokhin hinted at a press conference that he might rely on the counter attack, and exploit the holes left behind by Tunisian attacks just as Spain did.
- Tunisia has led in both of its game, versus Saudi Arabia and Spain, but has allowed the opponents back in the mix each time.
- Tunisian coach Roger Lemerre is seeking his first World Cup victory. Lemerre coached his native France in 2002, and only managed a tie to go along with two defeats.
My Crystal Ball:
The exorbitant risk incurred to back Spain or France reduces their appeal. I like the attitude and resiliency of South Korea, and would not hesitate to stake a small wager on the tie. Tunisia has shown it could score and has proved itself a liability on defense, thus making the 'over' a decent consideration in this Group H tilt.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Doc's Picks Services.