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World Cup: Group C Madness

After eight days of play, we were witness to the craziest World Cup day to date, and yet somehow, still satisfying for fans of the U.S. Germany, who looked supberb in their opener, played in a game where cards were handed out at a rate that tallied the sixth highest total for a single game in World Cup history. In turn, Germany lost their star scorer early, battled the rest of the way a man down, missed a potential tying PK, and after all was said and done, fell to Serbia 1-0.

And in Group C we were witness to two crazy games, that now leave all four teams with an opportunity to advance to the knockout round. By now you should be aware of the U.S. contest that saw them come out flat, finding themselves down 2-0 at the half, only to enter one of the craziest gamuts of emotion I’ve seen, in the second half. They fought hard to tie the score at two-all and enter a period of elation which turned to ecstasy when everyone in the world – with the exception of one human being – saw them go ahead on Maurice Edu’s finish of a beautiful set piece. Unfortunately that one human being’s opinion is the only one who mattered for the true outcome, and now the Americans face bouts of dissappointment and discontentment as they move forward.

Coach Bob Bradley will have to earn his keep by getting his boys to put the incident and the game behind them as they prepare for Algeria. Slovenia can leave the contest feeling disappointed, yet at the same time fortunate as well as they themselves prepare for England.

Algeria put forward the most impressive effort of the day, playing well above their heads, as England’s struggles continued as they tried and failed to create anything dynamic in the final third. Algeria will now come into the final game with a load of confidence even though they have failed to score a goal in the tournament. Conversely, the English side which lacks some serious cohesion, goes up against the stout Slovenian side who – we broke down in the previous U.S. preview – allowed only four goals in ten qualifying games.

What Each Team Needs to Advance

United States:

There are three scenarios by which the United States can advance, but the short version is: Win and you’re in.

And to be frank, if the U.S. is unable to defeat an Algerian side in a must-win scenario, they do not deserve to go through to the knockout round. However, the U.S. can squeak it’s way through if they manage a tie, with two other outcomes in the Slovenia-England game.

1.) An American tie with an England loss.

2.) An American tie with an England-Slovenia tie, where England does not score more than two more goals than the U.S. on Wednesday.

Slovenia:

A win or tie against England and Slovenia is through to the next round. Slovenia can even advance with a loss on Wednesday if the U.S. and Algeria draw their contest, or if Algeria wins but only by one goal and does not score more cummulative goals than Algeria (getting complicated I know, but this is exactly why Wednesday morning should be so much fun).

England:

Like the U.S., win and you’re in. They can also advance with a draw, but it would require the U.S. to also draw with Algeria and score two more goals than the U.S. on Wednesday. If we see two ties again on Wednesday like we did today, the U.S. is in a much better position, with England clearly behind the eight ball.

Algeria:

As they only team to have suffered a loss in the group, they must win to advance and even then, it is possible that Algeria would fail to advance. Not only do they need a victory, but also a win or tie by Slovenia. Or if England wins, essentially Algeria needs either a two-goal win themselves, or two-goal loss by the Slovenians to leap-frog them in tiebreakers.

Confused yet?

Summary:

This Wednesday should be a lot of fun. Get your thumbs stretched out and ready to go, so you can quickly switch back and forth between the simultaneous games. I know I will be headed for a sports bar where I can have my left eye on one game and right eye on the other. If you don’t find this fun, you obviosuly did not see the 2009  Confederations Cup. where the U.S. managed a 3-0 victory over Egypt, while Brazil hammered Italy with a 4-0 defeat. It concluded in one of the very few permutations that allowed the U.S. to advance. As an American fan, that performance last summer should be encouraging. The U.S. faced a team of similar pedegree and ability to what they will face on Wednesday, in a crucial situation and played a fantastic game that led to a dream run to the finals.

If the U.S. wants to experience a little more success, it all starts with a solid performance against Algeria. They control their own destiny. Let’s see how they handle the pressure.

Keep your eye out for more Two-Touch blogs and an Algeria game preview over the weekend!

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