Here we go, here we go, here we goooooo with the second half of our look at the second set of matches...
Our team ratings have correctly called two games in three so far and nailed both of these fixtures. Our hunches about the vulnerability of the Czechs and the Italians were sadly less well founded. Italy had to wait a long time for the killer goal against a forceful Ghana, but look so far like the football is a welcome relief from the scandal. Rosicky was imperious for the Czechs against a strangely lacklustre USA who never seemed to recover from Koller's early goal. The Czechs will miss him a lot and his partner Baros may still be out, too, but if Rosicky and Nedved reproduce that form they'll have qualified by the time they notice. The States have the players to worry Italy but they need to revert to what they know best to do it. If Ed Johnson gets a start he might provide the quick, cutting edge that Ghana didn't have. Luca Toni didn't score, but looked ominous with four shots on target. Ghana's Michael Essien, clear tournament leader in shots attempted, was willing to try his luck from anywhere but Ghana appear to lack the bite to seriously trouble the Czechs' stout defence. David Rozehnal could be a cheap pick up there, though Italy are still to come and that final game will be to avoid Brazil.
A robust Australian side came back to justify our faith in them, and Tim Cahill in particular. Mark Viduka rained in goal attempts against Japan, but don't expect Brazil to be so generous. Kaka also proved to be the pick of Brazil's stars while Ronaldo looks so out of sorts he may become a sideshow to Brazil's progress in the tournament. Croatia were unlucky to get nothing from the world champions and should overcome Japan who nevertheless will not leave the tournament easily. We're mystified as to why they left Ogasawara out against the Australians.
We're delighted for Mohamed Kader Cougbadja who showed how dangerous he can be against South Korea. Unfortunately the Swiss and French defences are much tighter and his hour may have passed. So might that of the French if they play like that again, though a draw against Switzerland merely completes the set of three: home, away and neutral including qualifying games. Alexander Frei should come into his own as the Swiss go for goals, though hopefully he'll leave his Maradona impersonation behind. Good points to be had for both European defences against weak attacks, though South Korea's Ahn Jung Hwan gleaned impressive stats from his second half substitute appearance against Togo. You can see what we meant about the French going forward, though, can't you? Even Henry's three shots on target can't hide the problems there.
Obviously not much to say yet, though be aware that the Spanish coach is thinking the unthinkable and may drop Spanish national icon Raul against the Ukraine in favour of David Villa. Our hot striking tip, Tunisia's Francileudo Dos Santos, will miss the Saudi Arabia match after breaking down with a leg injury in the final friendly which is a blow of Wayne Rooney-esque proportions to coach Roger Lemerre's plans. Dos Santos is supposed to be back for the second game against Spain and we can assure Roger he isn't the only one hoping so.
Picture of giant football in town square of Nuremburg where England play Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday via vanGilst's Flickr stream.