WORLD CUP WINNERS AND LOSERS
It is still early days at the 2010 World Cup but the tournament is already taking shape.
From South Africa's draw with Mexico in the curtain-raiser through to Switzerland's shock win over Spain on Wednesday, we have now had a chance see all 32 teams play at least once.
For some, like Germany, qualification already looks a formality, but others are less certain of their fate. With the help of Jurgen Klinsmann and Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport takes a look at what we have learned about each of the eight groups so far.
South Africa are in real danger of becoming the first World Cup hosts not to progress past the group stages after being outplayed by Uruguay. They must now beat France in their final match to have any chance of reaching the last 16.
The French, amid rumours of rifts in their squad, flattered to deceive as they opened their campaign with a bore draw against the Uruguayans and still have much to prove. Their next game is against Mexico, who showed flashes of their ability going forward in their 1-1 draw with South Africa on the opening day.
Klinsmann: “Uruguay are in a very strong position now but South Africa are in big trouble. They are representing their nation and have to give everything in their final game against France. In my opinion, the hosts do not have enough quality to be a threat at this level. Their strike force is not dangerous and they do not have enough ideas to put their opponents under pressure.
“It will be interesting to see how France react after their draw in their opening game because of what is going on internally in their squad and all the speculation surrounding them.
“There is definitely more to come from Mexico because I have seen them a couple of times while I've been living in the United States. They have a very talented squad that plays very good football.”
Lawrenson: “South Africa, sadly, just aren't good enough. And France look as if they are playing for themselves, not for their manager.”
Probably the most impressive individual performance in the first six days of the tournament came from Argentina's Lionel Messi, who showed how keen he is to make this World Cup his own with a virtuoso display against Nigeria.
Messi was only denied a goal by two superb saves by goalkeeper Vincent Enyema, who was the main reason why Argentina only won their opener 1-0. Question marks remain over whether Diego Maradona's side can defend, but with a three-pronged attack featuring Barcelona's Messi, Manchester City's Carlos Tevez and Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, they look certain to entertain.
Germany play almost in a Premier League style, getting the ball into their strikers as soon as possible
While Argentina appear to be full of goals, Greece look empty of ideas. They were ponderous and largely outplayed by an energetic and enterprising South Korea side, who fully deserved their 2-0 victory. The Greeks will have to post a huge improvement against Nigeria on Thursday if they are to still be in the competition at the end of its first week.
Klinsmann: “We all love to watch Messi, he has proven how good he is over the last couple of years with Barcelona in the Champions League and Primera Liga but we needed him to show all those qualities with Argentina as well.
“We saw from their opening game that he is playing in a different system to the one he is used to. He must adjust to playing with a different set of players, too, but he was fun to watch against Nigeria and might have scored one or two goals in this World Cup already.”
Lawrenson: “Maradona has set up his team as if he thinks his front three can win any game, hoping his defence is good enough to hold out. It worked against Nigeria but if they have a bad day, especially in the knockout stages, you fear that will be the end of them.”
England go into Friday's game with Algeria in need of a morale-boosting performance after being frustrated by a determined and well-organised US team in their opener. Boss Fabio Capello has some big decisions, in terms of team-selection and tactics, to make ahead of their next outing.
Just like England's Robert Green, Algeria goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi began his World Cup with a costly mistake, gifting Slovenia victory. The Africans did not show much attacking intent either. Slovenia also looked edgy but that win, in a cagey match typical of the tournament so far, should settle their nerves ahead of their clash with the US.
Klinsmann: “England is the bigger football nation but, from living in the States, I know the US team well and know the players are battlers. They were lucky with their goal but luck is part of every World Cup.
“Algeria is now the crucial game for England, but that won't be easy. The Algerians played well in the first half against Slovenia and only conceded through an error from the goalkeeper, but I'm convinced England will go through and I hope the US do, too.”
Lawrenson: “The game against the United States left England with more questions than answers but they should win their next two matches and reach the last 16.”
The first team to make a real statement of intent were Germany, who demolished Australia with a clinical attacking display in which Mesut Ozil demonstrated why he is one of the highest-rated young players in Europe. Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose also showed that, for all their problems at club level, they have maintained their international class.
Australia's campaign is in tatters after that defeat and Tim Cahill's red card, which could rule him out for the rest of the group stage. Serbia, meanwhile, are in similar trouble after they were beaten by a late Ghana penalty, having also had a man sent off.
Serbia were seen as potential dark horses before the tournament began but could be eliminated if they lose to Germany on Friday while Ghana, who were well-organised and look in good shape despite the absence of the injured Michael Essien, meet Australia.
Klinsmann: “Germany play almost in a Premier League style, getting the ball into their strikers as soon as possible. They have got off to a great start and will have a lot of confidence but the question now is how strong mentally they are because they are still a young team. We don't know yet how they will cope with going behind, especially in the knockout stages.”
Lawrenson: “Germany were the first team to really come out of the traps but that might have something to do with the fact that they have been playing with this Jabulani ball in the Bundesliga and they are used to it, while other sides are not.”
Much is expected of the Netherlands as an attacking force but they never really found a spark despite comfortably beating Denmark, although we should recognise that the Danes lacked ambition even when they fell behind to Daniel Agger's unfortunate own goal.
Cameroon also began the World Cup a little tentatively but at least showed signs of life after conceding against an organised but uninspired Japan side, even if star striker Samuel Eto'o was a peripheral figure. Their defeat might fire them up for what is essentially an elimination contest with Denmark on Saturday.
Lawrenson: “The Dutch looked really comfortable in the second half against Denmark and I was really impressed by Elijero Elia when he came on. They still have Arjen Robben to return and look like they are going to go a long way in this tournament.”
Italy had to scrap for a draw after falling behind against a determined and capable Paraguay side, who defended in numbers. But, if all their strikers are fit, the reigning champions possess enough firepower to progress in the tournament.
The Spain game showed how difficult it is for top teams to get through backlines when their opponents just come to defend
Like England boss Capello, Azzurri coach Marcello Lippi seems unsure of which formation will get the best out of his players. That said, they should still be good enough to reach the last 16.
New Zealand were seen as the whipping boys before the tournament began but showed, in snatching a last-ditch draw against Slovakia, that they are no pushovers and will have a big say in who gets out of this group even if they remain unlikely to manage that feat themselves.
Lawrenson: “Italy are notorious slow starters and Marcello Lippi only changed things round once they had gone a goal down. They may have got an equaliser but I still think their biggest problem is their lack of a goalscorer. New Zealand's draw was a good story but it will probably be their best result of the tournament.”
Brazil had to be patient to find a way through North Korea's massed defence but showed flashes of genius in the midst of the kind of pragmatic approach that we have come to expect from them under their coach Dunga.
Portugal and Ivory Coast, who appear to share the view that they are competing for second place, showed little attacking endeavour in what was a tense and nervy meeting. Both sides have to show much more initiative against the Koreans, who should no longer be underestimated after their showing against Brazil.
Klinsmann: “I'm looking forward to watching Brazil play again, against a team that does more than just defend. In their second and third matches, we will be able to judge a bit better how good they are.”
Lawrenson: “I was really impressed by Robinho and Elano against North Korea but I'm still concerned Kaka might have lost half a yard of pace. I'm not sure why Dunga is playing with two holding midfielders either but Brazil are definitely here for the long haul.
“Portugal don't look like they are the team they used to be. It looks like they don't think they are either, but Cristiano Ronaldo still showed us he can produce something out of nothing with that shot that hit the post. They remain dangerous.”
European champions Spain will have to qualify the hard way after their surprise defeat to Switzerland. Their fate is likely to come down to their clash with Chile because the early evidence is that Honduras will struggle to make an impression.
The Central American side defended spiritedly against Chile, for whom Alexis Sanchez starred in a dominant display, but they rarely looked capable of scoring themselves.
Spain will still qualify but their game with Switzerland showed how difficult it is for top teams to get through backlines when their opponents just come to defend
As expected, Switzerland also spent most of their game on the back foot but the difference was they held out against the much-fancied Spanish and made one of their breakaways count.
Klinsmann: “I think Spain will still qualify but their game with Switzerland showed how difficult it is for top teams to get through backlines when their opponents just come to defend.
“It was the same when Brazil played North Korea. It is easy to play against a big team if you just sit back, speculate and wait for a counter-attack. Losing three points to Switzerland is tough to swallow for Spain.”
Lawrenson: “Spain might have lost but they still created more chances than most teams so far. Chile looked good, but they were only playing Honduras. Spain will go through one way or another.”