In today’s games, Korea snatched a point with a late equaliser against the USA (1-1), Tunisia drew 1-1 with Belgium, an impressive performance after being soundly beaten by Russia, and Portugal, recovering well from their first game, demolished a pathetic Poland team 4-0.
Well, it’s coming up to crunch time now, with just one game left for each team. And very tight it is too, with only 2 teams (Spain and Brazil) definitely through, 5 teams (Slovenia, China, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria) definitely eliminated and 25 teams facing odds ranging from the commanding to the pitiful.
Only 4 teams have yet to score - France (!), China, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
Here are Jon’s predictions for the groups:
In Group A, I fancy Senegal to win the group by beating Uruguay and Denmark to hold on against the French and take second place, although France will score (I know they haven’t yet, but surely they can’t go another ninety minutes without one).
In Group B, Spain will win the group, but South Africa will hold out well enough to take second place, sending Paraguay and their bird man home with their unprehensile tails between their legs.
In Group C, Brazil will beat Costa Rica (controversial stuff this), and Turkey will score enough goals against China to take second place.
In Group D, Portugal will beat South Korea to take second place, but the USA will beat Poland to win, putting the home team out (I hope this doesn’t happen).
In Group E, Cameroon will beat Germany to win the group and Ireland will beat Saudi Arabia to take second spot.
In Group F, England will beat Nigeria to win the group, while Sweden will draw with Argentina and be runners-up.
In Group G, Italy and Mexico will draw, leaving Mexico on top, while Croatia will beat Ecuador to push Italy out of the cup.
In Group H, Japan will beat Tunisia to win the group, while Belgium will beat Russia to go second.
Bear in mind that my tip for a team to surprise everyone was Poland – well they certainly surprised me.
Rather sadly, the competition is now half over - we have had exactly 32 games out of 64. Because the last 2 games in each group are played at the same time, by Friday lunchtime we will be three quarters done. Eleven days in, and already I am staring like a rabbit into the onrushing headlights of my actual life. 4 days after the final is my fortieth birthday.
Never mind, I'm healthy, there's money in the bank and I have most of the summer off. You should have my problems. Does anyone want to employ me to do this?