An interesting round of results which pretty much went as expected with Holland again looking like a real threat and Italy struggling to impress. The main injury worry was that of Arjen Robben who limped off with a hamstring injury and now looks like missing out on the group stage games at least. The results were:
Algeria 1-0 United Arab Emirates
A win for Algeria but this form confirms that barring a major slump by their opponents they will be going home after the group stages.
Ghana 1-0 Latvia
Ghana looked less than impressive in beating a poor Latvia team at the MK Stadium. However they did dominate the game and playing in England will be a lot different than playing in Africa with the support of the home nation. They should still at least challenge for a place in the last 16.
Holland 6-1 Hungary
Holland look like the form team going into the finals and although Hungary are not a major force in European football this was still an impressive win. The only black spot in this performance was the possible loss of Arjen Robben who has had a great season both Internationally and at club level. Holland look like possible winners at the moment.
Romania 3-0 Honduras
Honduras looked a bit out of their depth against an admittedly good Romania side and the 3-0 scoreline could have been worse. An early exit looks increasingly likely for the Central American side.
Serbia 4-3 Cameroon
This was a bit of a turn up with the usually defensively sound but goal shy Serbia being involved in a bit of a thriller. Cameroon finally discovered their scoring touch, but looked woeful in defense. Both sides looked much better in this game than of late, but will have to improve quite a bit to progress from the group stages. Of the two Cameroon are the most likely to succeed. The match highlights are below.
Slovakia 3-0 Costa Rica
Slovakia played really well in this game but the potential loss of Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel who suffered an ankle injury could be a major blow to their last 16 chances. In what is looking an increasingly easy Group F they would have a realistic chance of making the last 16 on this form if they have everyone fit, but with several injury worries now they will have to wait and hope.
South Africa 1-0 Denmark
A goal from Katlego Mphela was enough to maintain South Africa’s 12 match unbeaten run in what was a hard fought game against Denmark. Bafana Bafana have now completed their preparations and will open the World Cup against Mexico on Friday. They have shown a high level of fitness and this could come into play as the group progresses and the final game against France which will be played in the afternoon heat could still be decisive.
Switzerland 1-1 Italy
Yet another poor Italian performance will have the doomsayers excited. However in this case they could have a case, Italy have an ageing squad and lack the star players of old as evidenced by Inter Milan starting the European Champions League Final without a single Italian on the pitch. It is dangerous to write the holders off but they will have to improve on this to trouble the likes of Spain, Brazil or England. Three performances like this and they might not make the last 16. As for Switzerland they look like missing out on the last 16 being in a tough group with Spain & Chile and the loss of one of their top strikers Marco Streller will be a big blow.
USA 3-1 Australia
A good win for the USA who will go into the game against England on a high note thanks to two goals by Edson Buddle which helped finally see of a dogged Australia side. The one worry for the USA in their opening game against England is their lack of a dominant central defender. One would expect Peter Crouch to cause them all sorts of problems when the two sides meet in their group opener.
Australia are in a tough group but with there being some question marks against both Serbia and Ghana they will still fancy their chances of making the last 16 where they could meet England. They have a decent backbone to the team with Lucas Neil in defense, Tim Cahill who is a quality attacking midfielder and Harry Kewell up front and if they can avoid a heavy defeat against Germany they could sneak through on goal difference.