Spain vs. Paraguay
6 p.m. local time – Group B – Jeonju World Cup Stadium (capacity = 42,477)
Live on ESPN2 at 4:55 a.m. ET
If not for Paraguay’s two-goal collapse in the final 30 minutes against South Africa, this match would feature the two teams clear at the top of Group B. Paraguay was impressive for one half against South Africa, led by the 21-year old Roque Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was unlucky not have had more than one goal in the first half, and Francisco Arce added a second for Paraguay in the 55th minute.
Paraguay’s headline-grabbing, free kick-taking Jose Luis Chilavert will return after serving the second of his two-game suspension in the opener against South Africa. At the 1998 World Cup in France, Chilavert almost single-handedly advanced Paraguay to the second round, posting two shutouts in the group stage – allowing Paraguay to grab points in two games where they did not score a goal. Even with Chilavert’s presence, Paraguay had a porous defense in qualifying, allowing 1.28 goals per game (and 23 overall goals) across 18 qualifiers, both the worst of all 29 qualifying nations.
That defense will be tested against Spain, who possess one of the world’s best strikers in Raul. In the opening win against Slovenia Raul scored in the first half, before Juan Carlos Valeron scored in the second half and then Fernando Hierro sealed the win with a penalty as Slovakia was sniffing for an equalizer.
The pressure for Spain to perform up to their talent is huge after flaming out in 1998. The Spanish have qualified for 11 World Cups, but their best finish is just fourth place in 1950. They have qualified for seven straight World Cups, but in that span have advanced to the quarterfinals just twice.
FIFA Ranking: 7th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 7” (6-0-2; 21 GF, 4 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1934 (5th), 1950 (4th), 1962 (13th), 1966 (10th), 1978 (10th), 1982 (12th), 1986 (7th), 1990 (10th), 1994 (8th), 1998 (17th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 16-14-10
Manager: Jose Antonio Camacho (ESP)
Championship Honors: 1964 European Cup champions; 1992 Olympic champions
World Cup Roster
1-Iker Casillas, 13 Ricardo Lopez Felipe, 23 Pedro Contreras, 2-Curro Torres, 3-Juan Francisco Garcia, 5-Carles Puyol, 6-Fernando Hierro, 15-Enrique Fernandez Romero, 20-Miguel Angel Nadal, 4-Ivan Helguera, 8-Ruben Baraja, 11-Francisco De Pedro, 14-David Albelda, 16-Gaizka Mendieta, 17-Juan Carlos Valerón, 18-Sergio Gonzalez, 19-Xavi Hernandez, 21-Luis Enrique Martínez, 22-Joaquin Sanchez, 7- Raúl González, 9-Fernando Morientes, 10-Diego Tristán, 12-Alberto Luque Martos.
FIFA Ranking: 14th (tied)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished fourth in CONMEBOL Final Group (9-6-3; 29 GF, 23 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 6– 1930 (9th), 1950 (11th), 1958 (12th), 1986 (13th), 1998 (14th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 4-5-6
Manager: Cesare Maldini (ITA)
Championship Honors: 1953 Copa America champions
World Cup Roster
1-José Luis Chilavert, 12-Justo Villar, 22-Ricardo Olimpia Tavarelli, 2-Francisco Arce, 3-Pedro Sarabia, 4-Carlos Gamarra, 5-Celso Ayala, 18-Julio César Cáceres, 19-Daniel Sanabria, 21-Denis Ramón Caniza, 6-Estanislao Struway, 8-Guido Alvarenga, 10-Roberto Miguel Acuña, 11-Jorge Campos, 13-Carlos Humberto Paredes, 14-Diego Gavilán, 15-Carlos Bonet, 16-Gustavo Morínigo, 17-Juan Carlos Franco, 7-Richart Báez, 9-Roque Santa Cruz, 20-José Saturnino Cardozo, 23-Nelson Cuevas.
Sweden vs. Nigeria
3:30 p.m. local time – Group F – Kobe Wing Stadium (capacity = 42,000)
Live on ESPN2 at 2:25 a.m. ET
Both teams are in desperate need of a win in this Group E match if either have their eyes set on round two. Nigeria, 1-0 losers to Argentina in their opener, will be eliminated with a loss, and if Sweden doesn’t record three points against Nigeria they would need to grab all three points against tournament favorites Argentina on June 12 – a stiff task.
Sweden was the better team in their draw with England, but were only able to notch one goal – and therefore one point - from their constant second-half pressure. Sweden’s two stars – Freddie Ljunberg and Henrik Larsson – were relatively quiet in the draw with England and will need to step up their play if they expect to see the second round.
Nigeria did well to hold Argentina to only one goal in their opening loss. In their third straight World Cup, Nigeria need at least four points over their next two games to have a chance at qualifying for the next round. And the four points will have to come against a pair of Europe’s finer teams (after Sweden, Nigeria face England on June 12).
Dubbed the “Group of Death” from the start, Group F has turned into just that. And in the two matches on June 7 three of teams are literally fighting for their survival.
FIFA Ranking: 17th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 4” (8-0-2; 20 GF, 3 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 10 – 1934 (8th), 1938 (4th), 1950 (3rd), 1958 (2nd), 1970 (9th) 1974 (5th), 1978 (13th), 1990 (21st), 1994 (3rd), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 14-15-9
Manager: Tommy Soderberg, Lars Lagerback (SWE)
World Cup Roster
1-Magnus Hedman, 2-Olof Mellberg, 3-Patrik Andersson, 4-Johan Mjallby, 5-Michael Svensson, 6-Tobias Linderoth, 7-Niclas Alexandersson, 8-Anders Svensson, 9-Freddie Ljungberg, 10-Marcus Allback, 11-Henrik Larsson, 12-Magnus Kihlstedt, 13-Tomas Antonelius, 14-Erik Edman, 15-Andreas Jakobsson, 16-Teddy Lucic, 17-Magnus Svensson, 18-Mattias Jonson, 19-Pontus Farnerud, 20-Daniel Andersson, 21-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 22-Andreas Andersson, 23-Andreas Isaksson
FIFA Ranking: 29th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Africa “Group 2” (5-2-1; 15 GF, 3 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 3 – 1994 (9th), 1998 (12th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 4-4-0
Manager: Amodu Shaibu (NGA)
Championship Honors: 1996 Olympic champions; 1980 & 1994 African Nations Cup champions
World Cup Roster
1-Ike Shorunmu, 2-Joseph Yobo, 3-Celestine Babayaro, 4-Nwankwo Kanu, 5-Isaac Okoronkwo, 6-Taribo West, 7-Pius Ikedia, 8-Mutiu Adepoju, 9-Bartholomew Ogbeche, 10-Jay Jay Okocha, 11-Garba Lawal, 12-Austin Ejide, 13-Rabiu Afolabi, 14-Ifeanyi Udeze, 15-Justice Christopher, 16-Efetobore Sodje, 17-Julius Aghahowa, 18-Benedict Akwuegbu, 19-Eric Ejiofor, 20-James Obiorah, 21-John Utaka, 22-Vincent Enyeama, 23-Femi Opabunmi
Argentina vs. England
8:30 p.m. local time – Group F – Sapporo Dome Stadium (capacity = 42,122)
Live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m. ET
The most anticipated match of the first round, the Argentina-England rivalry was already a great one when David Beckham was ejected and Argentina overcame a 10-man England at France 98. Expect another great chapter at Sappro Dome on Friday night.
Argentina are in the driver’s seat in the “Group of Death” after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Nigeria. England did not look to be at their best in their opener, and hung on to a 1-1 draw with Sweden.
David Beckham served up the assist on Sol Campbell’s goal in the draw with Sweden, but was taken off in the second half. As Beckham left, it seemed that so too did much of England’s fight. Expect Beckham to have a larger role in Friday’s match and to play more minutes.
One of the many subplots in this game will be the midfield battle between Manchester United teammates David Beckham and Juan Sebastian Veron. Veron was blamed for many of Manchester’s problems this year and would love to show the English fans his true quality.
Gabriel Batistuta started and scored in the win against Nigeria, before making way for Hernan Crespo. Either way, Argentina brings one of the world’s top forwards off the bench. Argentina has said they will make only one change in the line-up from their win over Nigeria, putting Kily Gonzalez on the left wing in place of Claudio Lopez
FIFA Ranking: 2nd (tie)
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished first in CONMEBOL Final Group (13-1-4; 42 GF, 15 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 13 – 1930 (2nd), 1934 (9th), 1958 (13th), 1962 (10th), 1966 (5th), 1974 (8th), 1978 (1st), 1982 (11th), 1986 (1st), 1990 (2nd), 1994 (10th), 1998 (6th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 29-18-10
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa (ARG)
Championship Honors: 1978 & 1986 World Cup champions; 1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1957, 1959, 1991, & 1993 Copa America Champions (13 times); 1992 Confederations Cup champions
World Cup Roster
1-German Burgos, 2-Roberto Ayala, 3-Juan Sorin, 4-Mauricio Pochettino, 5-Matias Almeyda, 6-Walter Samuel, 7-Claudio Lopez, 8-Javier Zanetti, 9-Gabriel Batistuta, 10-Ariel Ortega, 11-Juan Veron, 12-Pablo Cavallero, 13-Diego Placente, 14-Diego Simeone, 15-Claudio Husain, 16-Pablo Aimar, 17-Gustavo Lopez, 18-Kily Gonzalez, 19-Hernan Crespo, 20-Marcelo Gallardo, 21-Claudio
Caniggia, 22-Jose Chamot, 23-Roberto Bonano
Current FIFA World Ranking: 11th
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 9” (5-1-2; 16 GF, 6 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 11 – 1950 (8th), 1954 (6th), 1958 (11th), 1962 (8th), 1966 (1st), 1970 (8th), 1982 (6th), 1986 (8th), 1990 (4th), 1998 (9th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 20-12-13
Manager: Sven Goran Eriksson (SWE)
Championship Honors: 1966 World Cup Champions
World Cup Roster
1-David Seaman, 2-Danny Mills, 3-Ashley Cole, 4-Danny Murphy, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 6-Sol Campbell, 7-David Beckham, 8-Paul Scholes, 9-Robbie Fowler, 10-Michael Owen, 11-Emile Heskey, 12-Wes Brown, 13-Nigel Martyn, 14-Wayne Bridge, 15-Martin Keown, 16-Gareth Southgate, 17-Teddy Southgate, 18-Owen Hargreaves, 19-Joe Cole, 20-Darius Vassell, 21-Nicky Butt, 22-David James, 23-Kieron Dyer