World Cup Daily Preview – Saturday 10 July
Can there be a match in world football that players want to play in less than the World Cup Third/Fourth Place Play-Off?
A match to decide who effectively wins the ‘bronze’ medal, Uruguay and Germany will take to the field in Port Elizabeth on Saturday night still licking their wounds after narrow World Cup exits.
Uruguay exceeded all expectations by reaching this stage of the tournament, although losing by the odd goal in five to the Netherlands will hurt considering they were missing a handful of first team regulars. Luis Suarez should return for Saturday’s encounter, with the controversy surrounding his extra-time handball against Ghana refusing to go away. A national hero back home, the Ajax striker has been vilified in other parts of the press, although a red card, penalty and one match ban looks a fair enough punishment for his law contravention to me.
Whilst we shouldn’t downplay Uruguay’s achievement, they took full advantage of landing in the easy half of the World Cup draw. Qualifying ahead of France, Mexico and South Africa, they needed some luck to defeat South Korea before scraping past Ghana after Suarez’s late intervention. Showing a great mixture of strong team play and individual brilliance – Diego Forlan is one of the players of the tournament – La Celeste will be looking to finish third in what would be their best World Cup performance since their win back in 1950.
Germany’s 1-0 defeat to Spain will be hard to bear back home as Joachim Loew’s side went out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage for the second consecutive tournament. After scintillating four goal hauls against Australia, England and Argentina, Germany couldn’t break down a resolute Spanish defence in Durban and fall at the penultimate hurdle, just as they did in 2006.
Whilst Spain are the world’s form team, it is a real shame that Germany couldn’t have made it to the final. They made many friends with their attacking, enterprising football and with a low average age, all they need to do is find a replacement for the aging Miroslav Klose and this team could easily keep going to Brazil in 2014. Youngsters Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Christian Badstuber have impressed, and considering the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Lukas Podolski are only 25, 23 and 24 respectively, German football has a bright future.
Indeed, it was a then 21 year old Schweinsteiger that lit up the third/fourth place play-off in Stuttgart four years ago. The Bayern midfielder scored twice as Germany secured third place with a win over Portugal, and the three time champions are 8/11 to win this one.
Since two dour 1-0 outcomes in 1970 and 1974 this match has produced a surprising amount of excitement and goals. Since 1978 the match has averaged over four goals per game, and so the 13/8 on four or more goals looks good value and is a bet that would have paid out in three of the last four World Cups.
There may be changes in personnel for this one, but with the likes of Suarez, Forlan and Klose all retaining hopes of picking up the World Cup Golden Shoe, there might well be chances and goals in Port Elizabeth. I fancy Germany to win a surprisingly open and exciting encounter.