Well Thursday was an action packed day and showed those who were complaining about the lack of scoring, the Argie's got a 4-1 win to lock themselves into the group of 16 with their second win of the tournament. Greece came to life to pick up their first ever World Cup victory 2-1 over Nigeria, and the days action was ended as the French surrendered two goals to Mexico without responding.
Now we get ready to see if Germany's 4-0 thrashing of Australia was the start of their run for the final, while Serbia will be looking to make people forget their 1-0 loss to the Black Stars of Ghana.
Germany vs. Serbia - 5:30am MT - ESPN
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"We are not the fantastic team which everyone makes us out to be, but we have every reason to look forward to the Serbia game with quiet confidence. It will be a different type of game as they desperately need a win. We won't win every game 4-0, but we have nothing to fear," Thomas Muller, Germany forward.
"Germany were very impressive against Australia. They have made the biggest impact at the World Cup so far. They are like a machine, they have seven players going forward. If we want to upset them, we will have to show no fear and play the best we can, because we face a better team," Milan Jovanovic, Serbia winger.
After producing the best performance in the first phase of World Cup group matches with its emphatic 4-0 win over Australia, Germany is being extra wary of Serbia.
"It's (Serbia's) last chance to stay in the tournament and we'll have to be very careful and concentrated," Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said of Friday's match. "Australia was no measuring stick and Serbia is a very good team, with players in top clubs in Europe. We'll have to improve what we did well against Australia."
And so the Serbians face a double dilemma in the Group D match: the Balkan team is coming off a mediocre performance in losing 1-0 to Ghana, while Germany was at its clinical best against Australia to boost its claims to the title. Another loss will almost certainly end Serbia's chances of progressing.
While I thought, like most fans, that the injury to Ballack would put a huge roadblock in front of the German team, they cleared it with ease against the Aussies, now they have to face a tough as nails team from Serbia. A win here would have many people changing their World Cup picks in a hurry, Germany 3-1.
more after the jump:
Algeria is the only team in Group C without a goal or a point, and now they will be facing an England side looking to prove to themselves and the rest of the world that the draw with the US was a fluke, and nothing more than a goal keeping mistake.
England vs. Algeria - 12:30pm MT - ESPN2
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"We have a lot of players who can score goals, but for us to get a better result I'll need to play better than I did last time and score. I don't feel any pressure because the team are playing well," Wayne Rooney, England striker.
"We have several talented players who can make things happen. We're going to pose the England team plenty of problems and we'll be more ambitious than we were against Slovenia. It's a role that suits us well." Anther Yahia, Algeria defender and captain
For all the attention on Wayne Rooney and his bid to break his England goal scoring drought, the focus on Friday's World Cup match against Algeria will almost certainly be on the goalkeepers.
If a draw against the United States was barely acceptable, only a win over Algeria will do for an England squad that is expected to progress from Group C. But the Algerians know about upsets, otherwise they would not be at the World Cup.
The English will have to play as a team, something they didn't do well against the US. Algeria will need to play near perfect football if they want to get a point or three from the English. I have to wonder if Crouch gets the start up top with Rooney to give England both a big target and a guy who can run at the Algerian defense? I think there is too much talent on the England team to lose, but this one could be interesting 2-1 for England.
United States vs. Slovenia - 8:00am MT - ESPN
Well many people questioned if the US could get past their nagging injury issues, now they question the injury to Tim Howard, but against England the US showed something that I heard put this way "The US has good players who played great as a team, England had great players who played good as a team". If the US is to get a win or a draw against Slovenia, they will need that same mentality because that is exactly what Slovenia brings to the table.
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"I often hear people say we should qualify for the next round and that we were drawn in an easy group, but we know that nothing is guaranteed. We can't afford to take Slovenia lightly. In the next few days, we'll need to look back at everything that didn't work [against England]," Landon Donovan, United States forward.
"They put in a great team performance against England. We've studied their strengths and weaknesses with our coach. We often have trouble finding our bearings before we play a tight game, but we now know what we're capable of in a big competition," Robert Koren, Slovenia midfielder.
When the United States faces Group C leader Slovenia on Friday, the pressure is on the Americans.
Cushioned by three points from their opening win against Algeria, the Slovenes can afford to lose and still have a chance of advancing to the second round - albeit from a tough last group match against England.
For the Americans, who earned a surprising 1-1 draw with England in their opening match, avoiding a loss is more crucial.
Can someone besides Clint Dempsey score for the U.S. in a World Cup? How crazy is it that the last American to score a goal in the World Cup besides Dempsey was Donovan (against Mexico in 2002)? Dempsey was the only Yank to find the net in '06 and is so far again in '10. Who might provide some variety on Friday? Possibilities include Donovan, Altidore and likely substitutes Edson Buddle and Herculez Gómez.
For the U.S., Friday's match will be like looking in a mirror -- at least from a tactical point of view. Slovenia, like the Americans, plays a basic 4-4-2, has a style based more in physique than technique, keeps its wide midfielders narrow and has a big man/quick man center-forward pairing. Both even have an attacking right back, and each would rank its goalkeeper among the best two or three players in the team.
Listen, I am going to say this again and then you can go back and watch the tape of the last two US matches. Bob Bradley brought a game changer to the World Cup that few knew anything about, but teams are forced to adjust their style of play once they face him. Of course I am talking about Robbie Findley, against the Aussies in the warmup match, after his first run at their defense they adjusted their backline to play 5 yards further back and that created room for the US to maneuver in the midfield. Against England it wasn't their whole backline that adjusted it was just their outside backs, who couldn't push forward as much and had to be watching for the counter attacking runs, the US actually did a poor job of getting the ball to Robbie for most of the match. If they do better it should open up room for Landon and Dempsey to find more room in the midfield and should keep the Slovenia defenders busy trying to cover everyone. The US pulls off a hard fought 2-1 win.
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