Interesting Day. We get the last of the first round of games, and the first of the second round of games today.
Game 15: Spain vs. Ukraine.
This is should be the premier match-up of this group. Whether it will be or not I think depends more on Spain than the Ukraine.
1. Spain is kind of the soccer equivalent of your buddy who "who loves to party" and then drinks too much and ends up spending 2 hours crying over some girlfriend you've never met. They get all this hype and they always end up boring you and wasting your time while feeling sorry for themselves. Will their talent finally overcome their tendency to crash out? They are getting tested right away. How big of a test will be determined by #2.
2. Shevchenko. If he's healthy and fit, and on top of his game, he is one of the most dangerous finishers in the game. Anywhere from 25 yards out on in, he can score, and he does so quickly and with power. If he's fit, and Spain gives him any sort of room, they will be punished.
3. Pace of game. The question is, will either team try too hard to win this game? They probably both assume they will easily beat Tunisia and Saudi Arabia later on. Why risk the 1 point you get with a draw? This could be a lot like the France vs. Switzerland game from today, unless an early goal draws out the other team, looking to fight for their point.
Prediction: I'm counting on an early goal making this a compelling match. Ukraine 1, Spain 1.
Game 16: Tunisia vs. Saudi Arabia
The last of the first round of the round robin, and if I were scheduling this match, I would have tried to bury it too. But you know, these games between the lesser two teams of a group have been pretty good thus far. South Korea vs. Togo, Japan vs. Australia for example, were quite entertaining. This one could be, too.
1. There is often a surprise round of 16 qualifier out of Africa. Ghana might be a sexy pick right now, but given Spain's likely implosion, I'm getting risky and going with Tunisia.
2. Saudi Arabia lost a key starter to injury, and they may not be in the best of sorts.
3. Both of these are probably assuming they need to win this game to have a chance to get out of the group. No one here will be playing for a tie. Their is also more skill on these teams than you might expect. I'm expecting a very entertaining game here.
Prediction: Like I said, entertaining. Tunisia 3, Saudi Arabia 2.