Alwight, son? It's the First XI World Cup bulletin!
Here's what's happening in remarkable South Africa today:
Thursday 17 June 2010
12:30 Argentina v South Korea, Johannesburg (Soccer City), ITV
15:00 Greece v Nigeria, Bloemfontein, BBC
19:30 France v Mexico, Polkowane, BBC
After yesterday's genuinely exciting (and thank Krishna, Buddha and Sepp Blatter that we're able to say that about a game at last) Switzerland triumph over Spain we've seen all 32 teams in this year's competition. So we know all about Argentina and South Korea who face off today in soccer city itself, Johannesburg, at the Soccer City stadium. Argentina weren't quite firing on all cylinders in their opening game against Nigeria, with Lionel Messi squandering a handful of chances that he would usually convert in La Liga even if suffering a really nasty cold. South Korea looked sharp and technically sound against rubbish Greece. Four days further acclimatisation to the troublingly bouncy Jabulani ball means this should be another entertaining game at the very least. Say 50 Hail Blatters and recite England's 1998 squad 10 times and everything will work out fine.
Greece were one of the child's handful of sides to look genuinely inept so far in their tepid performance against the Koreans. Nigeria did a decent job against Argentina with Bolton reserves' Danny Shittu inexplicably coping with Messi for most of the game. Nigeria's four wins at World Cups have all been against European sides. Greece have still failed to score a single goal ever in the finals after four games or 360 minutes of play. Gutted, Greece.
France go into their game with Mexico in the knowledge that they were awful against Uruguay, their manager is useless and no-one likes Thierry Henry any more after that nasty business against the Irish in Paris. They also know (if they enjoy reading statistics websites) that they've never lost to Mexico, and that the Mexicans have never won a World Cup match against any of the seven countries that have won the competition in 16 attempts. Hold on tight, formbook because there's a good chance you're going to be turned upside down this evening.
On this day in 2002 Mexico lost 0-2 to USA and Brazil beat Belgium by the same score in the round of 16. A pair of entirely predictable results and largely forgettable games. Ah, memories.
MATCH OF THE DAY 12:30, ITV
ARGENTINA V SOUTH KOREA
Group B, Soccer City, Johannesburg. Capacity: 94,700
We have a rematch. The two-time winners and the eight-time qualifiers (note: the last seven have been in a row) whent toe-to-toe in a 1986 World Cup group match. What happened then? Let's find out: The Golden Boy Maradona laid goals on a coke-covered plate for his teammates and Korea were trounced 3-1. What will happen now? Exactly the same, probably. Only golden boy Lionel Messi will replace Maradona after his shooting practice against Nigeria, and growth hormones will replace coke. The only person that can stop this happening? Curiously, Maradona again - a coach who tinkers more than Claudio Ranieri playing the third part in tailor and soldier power trio. And possibly South Korea who looked nifty in their opening game against Greece.
PLAYER TO WATCH
PARK JI-SUNG (above)
Fittingly, the Red Devils’ captain is none other than 29-year-old Manchester United midfielder Ji-Sung Park (or Park Ji-Sung if we’re being all prim and proper) [or Sung-Park Ji if we're being deliberately wrong]. Since moving to Old Trafford from PSV Eindhoven for £4million in 2005 Park has become a fixture on fans’ song sheets due to the fact he comes from a country where people eat dogs, and a fixture in Sir Alex’s team due to his tireless running and canny knack of popping up with crucial goals at crucial times. He does this for his country too – most notably bagging their equaliser against France in the 2006 World Cup as well as scoring against Greece in the opening game of this tournament.
HALF TIME QUIZ
1 Who was England’s leading scorer at the last World Cup in Germany?
2 What is the name of Fabio Capello’s number two/general manager?
3 Fabio Capello’s birthday falls on June 18. How old will the England manager be?
4 Which four club sides has Fabio Capello has managed?
5 Which was the last World Cup England failed to qualify for?
1 Davor Suker (6, 1998); Ronaldo (8, 2002); Miroslav Klose (5, 2006). 2 Italian left back, Fabio Grosso. 3 Germany and Portugal. 4 John Terry. 5 The South African Communist Party.
MATCH OF THE DAY 2
MISS FRANCE vs MISS ARGENTINA
Who's hotter? Have a think, do a series of tests, possibly powernap on it, then tell us your answer in the comments box.
Oh, it's Virginie Gervais who has devoted her professional life to modelling and pornography.
What's up Virginia Balcazar? "My knitted dress is obviously far too small for me and I am attempting to conceal my modesty". You should have bought a better-fitting dress, Virginia. YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A BETTER-FITTING DRESS.
Wayne Rooney is bored. Poor Wayne Rooney. Don't be bored, Wayne Rooney. Play a game of Yahtzee, or something.
Check back at 11 for tomorrow for the next First 11 World Cup Bulletin.