It's the last 16 in the World Cup - who should England try to avoid?

Imagine England are about to advance from Group C in first or second position. Whatever happens, Capello's men will still face a tough last 16 clash. Using the power of predictions it's time to look at who England might face and who is best avoided from Group D.

Group D teams


The first group game sees Serbia take on Ghana at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria (13 June). This will be tough for Ghana if Michael Essien is still out. Serbia will probably be too strong anyway.

Prediction: Serbia to win

Germany face Australia at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, on the same day. The absence of Ballack through injury should not impede the Germans here.

Prediction: Germany to win

Five days later (18 June) Germany meet Serbia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth. The victor, if there is one, should emerge as group winner. Will it be Germany? I have my doubts.

Prediction: Serbia to win

On the following day Ghana and Australia meet at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg. This is likely to be a battle between also-rans.

Prediction: Australia to win and Harry Kewell to limp off injured

On 23 June Ghana face Germany at Soccer City in Johannesburg while Australia take on Serbia.

Predictions: Serbia beat Australia, meaning Germany just need a point against Ghana to go through

So according to my predictions (and those of FIFA and German coach Joachim Low) Serbia are the dark horses of Group D.

They did very well in qualifying and could cause a few surprises.

Presuming England head Group C, this sets the stage for a last 16 clash with Germany.

Come second and Serbia stand in the way of a quarter final place.

I don't like the look of either but would choose to play Germany over Serbia.

The latter have nothing to lose and would relish the chance to take on England.

By contrast the Germans could be a weakened force, their confidence sapped by criticism.

Well, I can live in hope, can't I?


Everton Mike said...

I think there are 2 dangers for England in the last 16, one obvious the other less so.
Germany should be avoided at all costs. No-one knows they way round the knockout stages of a world cup better than Germany. Their greatest strength is their ability to play well under pressure. They are more than capable of beating England.
England also want to avoid Australia. Football may not be big down under (yet) but beating the Poms is a national hobby. Australia would raise their game significantly if they played England and this would be a hard game for England. A derby-time game where form book could go out of the window. A dangerous game for England, especially if they are over-confident and underestimate the Aussies.
Ghana and Serbia although no walkover look eminently winnable from England's point of view.

Mike Towers said...

Thanks Everton Mike, there is much sense in what you say and as much to dispute.

Yes, the Germans are knock out specialists and the Aussies would love to turn England over.

Personally I'd be disappointed if we went into a game against Germany believing the odds were stacked against us.

Besides, they had a relatively easy qualifying campaign and rarely test themselves against quality opposition.

The Serbs dominated a difficult qualifying group and will be hard to beat.

It would have been good to see your predictions.

Everton Mike said...

This group is probably the hardest to call and is likely to be tight. However, I can't see beyond Germany, although they will probably drop points somewhere I can't see them dropping so many they go out.

Ghana look the weakest team so will probably go out. African teams flatter to deceive at world cups and the absence of Essien might be too much for them.

That just leaves Serbia and Australia. Serbia have more talented players but the Aussies have more backs to the wall fighters. A tough one to call. However, I'll go Australia to set up an intriguing game with England in the last 16.

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