June 25: Groups E and F in the spotlight

Clive Rose

Argentina has qualified, Nigeria almost have; disappointing Bosnia face Iran in the morning matches. In the afternoon, Switzerland face the physicality of Honduras, knowing a win will see them through if France get a result against Ecuador.

Here are the matches today.  BTW, FIFA have opened an inquiry into the Suarez incident, so you can expect this story won't go away.

Group E--Noon ET

Group standings: Argentina 6, Nigeria 4, Iran 1, Bosnia 0

Argentina v Nigeria, Porto Alegre

Argentina have been woefully disappointing, needing late goals to defeat both Bosnia and Iran.  Nigeria haven't looked good either, but can go through for sure with a result today.  And if they can win, they go through as group champions, which would mean Argentina would play France in the round of 16 in all probability.   Not exactly a must-watch game, but probably more exciting than.....

Iran v Bosnia-Herzegovina, Salvador

Iran have been the only one of the four clubs in this group to acquit themselves well here, to be honest.  They were unlucky not to get a result against Argentina (who knew goalkeeper Romero was actually competent?) and achieved their goal of picking up a point against Nigeria.

If Iran defeat Bosnia 1-0, and Argentina defeat Nigeria 2-0, the Iranians are through to the round of 16.  If Argentina win 2-1, the Nigerians make it.  And if Argentina win 1-0, then both Iran and Nigeria would have four points, one goal scored, one conceded, a goal difference of zero.  So FIFA would--yes--pick one of their names out of a hat to move on.  I almost want to see that happen just to see it happen.

Predictions: Argentina 1-0 Nigeria; Iran 1-0 Bosnia.  Iran to go through via the magic hat.

Group F--4PM ET

Group E has been starved for goals and excitement, but group F has provided it in spades.

Group standings: France 6, Ecuador 3, Switzerland 3, Honduras 0

Honduras v Switzerland, Manaus

Honduras have been the CONCACAF outlier; in a group stage where Mexico, the USA and Costa Rica have acquitted themselves well, the Hondurans have proved ore adept at kicking opponents than the ball.  Still, at least they haven't bitten anyone.

Switzerland has been far more exciting than anyone had a right to expect, with a fantastic counterattack to break Ecuadorian hearts and score a winning goal in extra time in their first match.  France sliced apart their defense in the second match as if it was made of Swiss cheese; Honduras won't be able to do that as much.  But in the heat and humidity of Manaus, can Switzerland survive?

Honduras do have a chance to finish second in the group--if they can win 4-0, and Ecuador lose, of if they win 3-0 and Ecuador lose 1-0, or lose by at least two goals (2-0, 3-1, etc.).

France v Ecuador, Rio

Finally, a match where one of the teams really has nothing to play for.  Unless France lose by four goals, they will finish as group winners.  Ecuador, though, can qualify if they match Switzerland's result, so long as if they both lose, they don't lose by 3-0 or 4-1 if Switzerland loses 1-0.  At least, I think that's right.

Ex-Villarreal man Jeff Montero has played well for Ecuador; maybe we get to see ex-Villarreal man Rio Mavuba in action for France this time.

Predictions: Switzerland 1-1 Honduras; France 2-2 Ecuador.  Ecuador to face Argentina in the round of 16, then.

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