Friday was glorious and emotional start to South Africa 2010, but at some point we are going to want to see a winner. Enter Argentina, who not only gives us our best chance to see a win but also could poor in goals.
All in due time (to which was are slaves). We need to do this chronologically. And to be honest, I don't like to dwell.
Saturday's lineup, everybody: Day two of the 2010 World Cup.
Korea Republic versus Greece, Port Elizabeth, 7:30 a.m. Eastern, ESPN
Where They Stand: Korea comes in firing on all cylinders after a strong (though losing) performance against Spain. Greece lost to Paraguay in their last friendly, one week after not only drawing North Korea but also allowing two goals. Greece will be missing starting defender Vagelis Moras, who is in a fitness race to play against Nigeria (a week from now). Both teams, perhaps underrating the other, are counting on three points in this match.
Player to Watch, Korea: Ki Sung-Yung will have to make strong decisions with the ball, distributing from midfield, as beating a team that's as defensively organized as Greece is often about slowly, patiently opening channels. Ki will have to organize that process and then supply the final ball once the space is created.
Player to Watch, Greece: Theofanis Gekas was the leading scorer in UEFA qualifying, and if the Korea defense is as susceptible as some suspect, he could be the difference in the match. He is not a striker that can take over a match unless you let him, but if Korea is going to give Gekas opportunities, Greece will win.
Prediction: Korea may not have the finishers in the final third to get full points. They should be the better team, but sometimes that's irrelevant. Look for a 1-1.
Argentina versus Nigeria, Johannesburg (Ellis Park), 10:00 a.m. Eastern, ESPN
Where They Stand: Argentina is the group favorite and, along with the Netherlands, make up half of the new band The Non-Brazil, Non-Spain Favorites. It's an awkward name, but it's served them well over the last eight months, wherein Diego Maradona has got the Albiceleste on-tracked. Nigeria has been anything but on-tracked and are relying on new coach Lars Lagerback to help them make music. Too bad the man who wields the ax is gone. We'll miss you, Mikel.
Player to Watch, Argentina: Is it a cop-out to say Lionel Messi? The recognized best player in the world should be able to run through a slow Nigeria central defense. While Nigeria has defensive midfielders who could slow the proverbial supply line, Juan Sebastián Veron will still be able to get Messi the ball.
Player to Watch, Nigeria: Peter Odemwingie goes from being the man on the end of the passes to the man who has to craft the final ball. He won't be a straight replacemnt for the injured Mikel John Obi, but it's natural to expect the team's best creator to take up more of the slack as the midfield's thinned-out.
Prediction: Argentina wins by multiple goals. The bandwagon pulls out of the barn.
England versus United States, Rustenburg, 2:30 p.m. Eastern, ABC
Where They Stand: Both teams are hurting. The U.S. is without their supporting striker and have hobbled players at striker and center half. England is not that much healthier, with their captain (central defense), goalkeeper, and defensive midfielder all out. The two favorites in this quartet, the result should determine which team wins the Group C.
Player to Watch, England: Wayne Rooney against a vulnerable defense whose best player has not fully recovered from knee surgery. This does not look good for the Americans.
Player to Watch, United States: Clint Dempsey will be running at Glen Johnson, England's worst defender along the back. If be can consistently win that match-up, the U.S. has a seed to an upset.
Prediction: England 3-1, but the U.S. is not as far off as people think. The line I've been using whenever I'm asked: The U.S. beating England would be far less of an upset than when the U.S. beat Portugal in 2002. A more important result? Yeah, culture's a powerful thing. But the gap between these two teams is not that big.