Also see World Cup 2006 Predictions.
We already have the first four matches decided for the second round – I’ll list them here, put in my expected winners as well as make some predictions on the participants of the other four matches below.
Second Round Matches
Match 1: Germany vs Sweden
Easy to call. Under Klinsmann Germany have been in good form, and Sweden, despite being physical and fast, are not that good to deny Germany a few goals. The match will ultimately be decided by who scores more, and Germany come on top in that regard.
Match 2: Argentina vs Mexico
Again, easy to call. With Sorin back Argentina will have more width to play with, and if they bring on Messi / Tevez as second half subs Mexico will find it hard to survive.
Match 3: England vs Ecuador
Really now, what did you expect me to say? England have enough class to see off Ecuador despite losing Owen and the defensive fiasco two days ago.
Match 4: Portugal vs Holland
Match 5: Italy vs Australia
Italy have way too much class not to come out on top in Group E. Australia on the other hand are on a fantastic run and should be able to score against Croatia, which would get them at least a draw and get them to the second round. After that though, Italy are favourites.
Match 6: Switzerland vs Ukraine
The Swiss, with their solid defense, should be able to secure at least a draw from their clash with South Korea. Seeing that the Koreans leaked a goal against Togo and were at sea for quite some time against the French, you wouldn’t bet against the Swiss going through on top. And because of that same defense, they should be able to see off the threat of Rebrov and Shevchenko, although this will be as close as the Holland vs Portugal game. Impossible to call, really.
Match 7: Brazil vs Ghana
Okay, this is where I go totally on a limb. Brazil are already through but second place in Group E is a toss-up between the Czechs, Ghana and USA. Czechs will lose to Italy, so Ghana need a draw to get through to the second round. You wouldn’t bet against them on that, especially seeing how they disposed of the Czech Republic. Still, Brazil are another matter entirely. If Ghana beat Brazil, that would be amazing.
Match 8: Spain vs France
France should be able to beat Togo and get through as runners-up, but when their ageing and woefully out-of-form side hits Spain it should be an entirely different story. Spain have depth in their squad, and can switch playing styles (as they did so effectively against Tunisia). Spain through to the quarters, definitely.
So there you have it. The quarters are shaping up quite nicely, something like this:
Quarter Final Matchups
Match 1: Germany vs Argentina
Match 2: Italy vs Switzerland
Match 3: England vs Holland
Match 4: Brazil vs Spain
Not too far away from what I predicted earlier. More predictions to come after the group matches end tomorrow.
Also see my earlier post, World Cup 2006 Predictions.