World Cup Preview: Greece play South Korea, Argentina opens with Nigeria. And oh yea, USA v England

11 June 2010

USA's Tim Howard during training. (Credit Image: © Action Images/ZUMApress.com)
Saturday at the World Cup ends all the talk of the most hyped game probably in US Soccer history. All I know to say about that is thank God it's over. Before we get to the picks for Saturday, let's take a look at our results from Friday.

Johnathan Starling has 1 win, 0 losses, and 1 no result.
Jeff Hash has 0 wins, 1 loss, and 1 no result.

Note: If we're using the handicap line, we will include what the spread is. If it spread is 0, a draw will mean no result. If we use the Over/Under line, just add the total number of goals scored in a match. Please note that this will all be based on the scoreline at Full Time (90 minutes). For betting purposes, only the result after 90 minutes are counted. Our odds are courtesy of Centsports.

7:30 am on ESPN: South Korea v Greece
Jeff Hash: Just like yesterday between France and Uruguay, a match of two teams who didn't do much to look great during the World Cup buildup.  I don't really rate Greece's offense, so the question really becomes will South Korea manage to breakdown Greece's well built defense.  I'll be honest and say I am a believer that the teams of the Asian Football Confederation will make a splash in this tournament, and I think the circumstances are right for it to happen right away.  My pick is South Korea on the 0 at even money.
Johnathan Starling: I'll disagree about South Korea's build up to the World Cup, but Greece did not look so good. If everyone remembers Greece's Euro 2004 run, their tactics have not changed at all. They will bore to sleep on the defensive side, and hope to find a goal on the counter attack. Of the Asian sides in the World Cup, South Korea is probably the best of the bunch (though I don't know if that's truly saying much). As Jeff correctly said, it's a matter of if South Korea can break this team down, and I think they will in one of those typical 2-1 results where South Korea looks more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. My bet is South Korea on the outright win at +185. How that is the line on this game is something I cannot wrap my head around.

10:00 am on ESPN: Argentian vs Nigeria
Jeff Hash: The Diego Maradona self-obsession tour finally arrives at its ultimate destination in South Africa.  Whether the legend as a coach is a good or bad thing will continue to be debated, but there's no denying that the talent on this team is in a class above Nigeria.  The real question is how far ahead will they actually finish.  I actually think Nigeria has done well getting ready for the tournament, and shows they can have a defense that can baffle teams.  While I think Argentina is a winner, I also think Nigeria will hold on to make it 2-1.  So my pick is Nigeria plus a goal and a half at -150.
Johnathan Starling: Well before failing a drugs test at the 1994 World Cup, Maradona played against Nigeria. I can't help but chuckle about the fact his first game as manager at the World Cup is against the Super Eagles. While he maybe nuts, Maradona still has a hell of a lot of talent that needs to prove to all they are world beaters. While Nigeria has respectable forwards, and a back four that can clamp down with the best of them, without Mikel, they will end up conceding way too much space for Argentina to work their magic. That said, I think there will be goals in this one. While I expect Argentina to win 3-1, my bet is on the over 2.5 goals at -130.

2:30 pm on ABC (Pregame starts at 1:30 on ABC): USA v England
Jeff Hash
: If you believe all the talk on both sides of the pond, they may as well stop playing the cup after this game.  As someone who did actually have the hype of a big sporting moment deliver this week (the Washington Nationals debut of Stephen Strasburg), I know hype doesn't deliver on demand.  And honestly, while both teams are suffering from Swiss cheese defenses due to injuries, the attacks are too textbook to take full advantage of this flaw.  To me, the ultimate revenge of this game after all the hot air will be a scoreless affair.  It may not actually be that low, but I think it will be close.  So my pick is under 2.5 goals at -120.
Johnathan Starling: This is one of those classic damned if you do and damned if you don't situations. I'm so damn happy all the hype can shut up and the game take place; but we all know that after 4:30 on the east coast tomorrow, it's probably going to end up worse than the built up hype by a factor of ten, maybe 20.
Both England and the US's center of defense aren't exactly up to par right now. The midfield is both team's strongest suits, with Rooney being the main goal scoring threat for England. As for the US, however, something tells me the high pressure we saw against Australia in the friendly last week will be the tact we see against England. One thing the US does have an advantage in is more time at the altitude having spent last summer in South Africa. I wonder if England can go 90 at the altitude. To me this game goes one of two ways: Either England steals it late 2-1, or the game is a 1-1 draw. Since I think the game is more likely to end in a 1-1 draw, my bet is on the USA +1 at -110.

What are your thoughts on the games Saturday? Let us know in the comments below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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