World Cup Day 7 match previews – Group B to take shape

Class and style are the themes of day seven, with some of the more free-flowing nations taking centre stage. Argentina face South Korea, knowing the winner is assured a place in the last 16, Greece, look to end their dismal record in the World Cup as they take on the enterprising Nigeria. And the game of day takes place in the evening, with France playing Mexico.

12.30pm –Green Point, Johannesburg

The finest individual performance during the opening group phase came from Argentina and it is no coincidence that since their 1-0 victory over Nigeria the criticism surrounding Diego Maradona has quietened significantly. The Argentina legend seems to have found a place for Lionel Messi in the side and the winger’s influence will be crucial as the tournament progresses.

While many would have been surprised by South Korea’s comfortable dismissal of Greece, in truth the 2004 European Champions’ poor World Cup record combined with Korea’s high work rate, means Huh Jung-Moo’s side’s win should not be taken lightly. Park Ji-Sung was expected to shine during this summer and the Manchester United midfielder did not shy away from the challenge in his country’s first group game. The 29-year-old will need to provide a similarly impressive performance if his side are to shock one of the World Cup contenders.

3pm – Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Against Argentina, Greece’s terrible World Cup record continued. Still without a win, a point or even a goal, Otto Rehhagel’s side can only take hope from the fact their opponents in their second group match are Nigeria, a team who have failed to win any of their last six games in World Cup competition.

However, Nigeria showed against Argentina that they do pose a threat in the final third. The introduction of Obafemi Martins, who joined Yakubu up front, sparked Lars Lagerback’s side into life and expect the duo to start against Greece as they look to stay afloat in South Africa. Greece will need to show far more attacking intent than they did against South Korea if they are to avoid a second successive white wash at the World Cup otherwise it will be the Super Eagles that will be flying high in Bloemfontein.

7.30pm –Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokawane

If the contrast between the how both France and Mexico performed in the pressure of the opening day can serve as an accurate barometer for looking ahead of their meeting on Thursday, then Raymond Domenech’s side could be in a shock as they take on the stylish Mexicans. France played in a lethargic manner, and refused to force the pace against Uruguay. Domenech even neglected to change the team until late on, and the omission especially of Florent Malouda yet again called into question his ability to coach the side. The Chelsea midfielder is however set to win a starting place against Mexico.

Mexico themselves kept the ball superbly in the opening game and will hope to frustrate their opponents in a similar fashion to how they thwarted the South Africans. The artistry and industry of Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela will be on show again and France will need William Gallas, still smarting from his snub as captain, and Eric Abidal at the peak of their powers


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