World Cup Review: Who will strike gold in South Africa?

By on June 3, 2010

world-cup-2010

By Guest Writer Chris Chick.

Every four years the world is treated to the holy grail of world sport The ‘Football’ World Cup.  If there’s anyway to bring a country out of its economic demise it’s the lifting of the famous 18 carat gold trophy that has been in the hands of such greats as, Pele, Diego Maradona, and Franz Beckenbauer.  It is without question that the quest to be the dominant nation every four years has become a world wide phenomenon unrivaled by any other sport with a estimated total viewing figure of 28.2 Billion for the 2002 World Cup.

Why all the hype? Well unless you have been living off the land in the wildest parts of the world you would have noticed that Football has come along way since the domination of the big countries that are constantly fancied to walk away victorious.  These names include Brazil, Argentina, England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France to name a few, but since the turn of the century an amazing turn-around in fortunes for the lower level nations has been dramatic.  African nations have come along way since the days of Roger Milla and his amazing performances in the Italia 90 World Cup, no longer can African nations be taken lightly especially when you have such players as Drogba, Eto’o, and Essien (since been ruled out with injury) plugging their trade at this years event.  This years event is the most open in recent years with no run away teams looking any better than the others, I would hate to think of predicting a winner if I was allowed a £100 bet, though if it wasn’t my money I would be happy to place it.  So out of the 32 teams to make it this far who has the minerals to go all the way? Will we see someone outside of Europe and South America become victorious for the first time, will we have another Turkey and Korea surprise entrants who get to the semi final again? Lets find out in my World Cup break down.

Group A

South Africa – The hosts, not much has been said of them apart from the infrastructure problems and problem of crime for visiting supporters.  There is a good reason for that and that is the team will struggle to get through the group stages, though they do have some handy players especially Steven Pienaar who has been a small revelation for Everton, and you can’t count out the host nation with the crowd behind them.  Not enough depth in talent to upset France though victories against the other two are possible.

VERDICT: Last 16

Mexico – I’m always fond of Mexico and feel on their day they are a match for anyone but as old World Cups go they seem to falter on the big time, they have plenty of skill and pace in their team players to watch Carlos Vela and Alberto Medina.  I don’t think the Mexicans can break their hoodoo this time around.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Uruguay – Much like Mexico its hard to discount any Central and Southern American team as on their day they can do damage to any teams especially with the likes of a hot Diego Forlan in your team.  Only managed to scrape through the qualifiers with a hard fought victory against Costa Rica, not exactly World Cup winning material.

VERDICT: Group Stages

FranceMany fancy France to win this years tournament, but i don’t see the hype i’m afraid.  There was a time when France were the best in the world after the 98 World Cup but since then they have lost a lot of what made them great, Zidane, Vieira, Henry to name a few.  I expect the fire power to get France to the Quarter Finals but have their chances cut short.  Finished 2nd behind Serbia in a relatively harmless group, would have expected better that’s why I feel France will struggle.

VERDICT: ¼ Final

Group B

ArgentinaWhen you have someone as good as Lionel Messi in your team, your going to be confident, but not surprisingly Argentina is by far a one man team, Mascherano, Tevez, Agüero are big names playing good football all over Europe.  The only thin I can imagine hurting Argentina’s rise to the top of world football is their present manager Mr Diego Maradona.  Simply the best player ever to grace and football field, but managerial talents are a little cause for concern considering Argentina struggled to qualify for this years event, which lets be fair is unheard of coming 4th that’s almost on par as Manchester United struggling to get into the champions league.

VERDICT: Semi Final

Nigeria I expect the Nigerians to do well in this World Cup, they have players that have the pedigree and experience to cause a few upsets, there form coming into the competition has been poor at best, but on the greatest stage I’m expecting a totally different Nigerian team..  Though the African nations are not as strong as the European or South American nation this world cup is a great opportunity to assert themselves.

VERDICT: ¼ Final

Korea Republic – There world cup moment will be against Greece which is sad to say but I can’t see them progressing.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Greece – I fear for Greece’s chance at this world cup, remember their amazing Euro cup win in 2004? Was it truly amazing or just a stroke of good fortune and very negative tactics? I tend to lean towards the latter.  Greece are just here to make up the numbers and qualified in probably the easiest group behind Switzerland who in turn have just about as much chance as Greece.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Group C

EnglandIts difficult not to be too biased towards your home nation when making predictions, so in this case I’m going to make two predictions, my heart and my brain.  My heart tells me that England will power onto the final, Rooney firing in from all angles, Gerrard and Lampard finally show the world that they are both a class act and can play together, and of course Joe Hart gets his chance to show why a large percentage thinks he is a great goalkeeper.  My brain on the other hand feels we will falter again at the crucial stage, whether that is due to bad luck, or our own demise i.e 2002 when Brazil were down to 10 men and still England could not take advantage.

VERDICT: Semi Final

USA – Having lived and worked as a football coach in the States, I have a first rate view on a sport that is slowly catching up with the rest of the world,  Though the USA have enjoyed relative success on the world stage especially in the middle of the last century.  The one thing the USA has going for it is there are some superb athletes and should not be taken likely, once the new crop of talented kids come through expect the USA to be a major player in the next 10 years, as of now they will get through the group stages but no further.

VERDICT: Last 16

Algeria & Slovenia, with due respect both these nations are here to make up the numbers, unless there is a massive upset with regards to playing either England or the USA I don’t expect either team to progress.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Group D (Group of death 1)

GermanyThe Germans find themselves in an interesting position in what I believe to be a group that could herald a few surprises.  You would expect the Germans to progress with their rich history in the competition; something tells me that this world cup is going to be difficult on the Germans who have lost one of their major players Ballack to injury.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Australia – The Roo’s could cause a major upset and I expect them to, having had a good run out at the last world cup when they were beaten by a dubious penalty by eventual winners Italy.  Player to watch Tim Cahill,

VERDICT: Last 16

Serbia – Like the Aussies the Serbians have a great opportunity to cause a major upset, maybe not as athletically gifted as Australia but like most Eastern block countries they are very well organised and disciplined.  Player to watch Vidic.

VERDICT: Group Stages

GhanaAnother strong African nation that holds both physical strength and good team cohesion.  I expect them to progress through the group stages and maybe cause a major upset in the last 16 before being eliminated at the ¼ final stages.  The fitness of Michael Essien is essential to there cause.  Since I completed this Essien has been ruled out so my prediction is back one.

VERDICT: Last 16

Group E

HollandThe Dutch have the tools and equipment to take them all the way, ever since the 1998 I have been behind the boys in orange to set the world on fire.  It has to happen sometime and I believe this is the time, I think this will be their time even though their squad is not as good as the last tournament this will mean less pressure but they still have the players and quality to do damage.  Watch out for the boy Robben.

VERDICT: Final

Denmark & JapanMaking up the numbers don’t expect any progression.

VERDICT: Group Stages

CameroonI would like to see Cameroon do well but I just don’t see it, many of their top players have had ordinary seasons and unless they suddenly find the form from a few seasons ago i.e. Eto’o who was at one point the prized possession in world football.

VERDICT: Last 16

Group F

ItalyWhen it comes to star power the Italians have lost what they had in the 1990’s, everyone knew that Serie A was the best league in the world and it was full of home grown talent.  The talent that once graced this great nation is lacking this time around, though I do feel they are strong enough to get to the ¼ finals with the likes of Cannavaro, Pirlo, and Guttuso.

VERDICT: ¼ Final

ParaguayShould have enough fire power to get past Slovakia and New Zealand, don’t expect them to get any further than the last 16.

VERDICT: Last 16

Slovakia & New Zealand – Having lived and played football in New Zealand I would love to see them progress out of the group stages but unfortunately they are just not good enough, great to see them this far though.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Group G (Group of Death 2)

BrazilThe epitome of the Football world, all nations wish they had the success the Brazilians have achieved in world football, and so they should proclaim themselves footballing masters who is to doubt them, the only problem is they have? Dunga as their manager.   When I was growing up my first memory of Brazil was Dunga controlling the Brazilian midfield, as all around him danced and dribbled their way around the field with flair.  Unfortunately being a good player does not guarantee your going to be a good manager.  A lot has been made of not including Ronaldhino, is he anywhere near his best?….No, should he be there? Absolutely, a player of his caliber brings much more than just talent, he has experience at the biggest stage, and he has a presence, much like David Beckham who I am glad is on his way to South Africa to help out the team.

VERDICT: Semi Final

Korea DPR – Its hard not to notice the political environment that engulfs the world before a major event like this, but it seems if there were to be an evil character like we see in cartoons North Korea seems to fit that bill.  To do well in the competition may hold the catalyst for peace, but don’t hold your breath.  The Asian build up to the World Cup is not the toughest in the world and thus why Asian teams tend to struggle on the big stage.

VERDICT: Group Stages

PortugalFour years ago I was sure that Portugal were going to be eventual winners, but once again the hype was diminished emphatically and Ronaldo was unable to carry the whole team to glory.  Unfortunately this time around their chances are slim due to a lot of experience being there in Pedro Pauleta, Rui Costa, and at one time the greatest player in the world Luis Figo.  It’s a tough decision to make regarding who will join Brazil in the next round, they still have the armory in Nani, Ronaldo, and Deco to do some serious damage.  One has to go and I’m afraid its Portugal.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Ivory CoastIf any African nation was to do the unbelievable it’s the Ivory Coast, they are definitely the strongest with start players as Drogba, and Yaya Toure.  If they manage to get through the group of death I expect them to push on to at least the ¼ finals especially if the draw is favourable.  I personally rate the managerial skills of Sven Goran Eriksson and believe he could have taken England further if the chance had arisen.

VERDICT: ¼ Final

Group H

Spain – Quite rightly Spain are one of if not the best team in the world at the moment, if Torres and Fabregas are fit its only to their advantage, I can’t see anyone stopping them going through to the final and winning, just like the France team between WC 98 and Euro 2000 they look unstoppable.

VERDICT: Winners

ChileMuch like their Southern American counterparts they have a very talented squad but not enough depth all over the pitch, same as Paraguay I don’t expect them to get by the last 16.

VERDICT: ¼ Final

Honduras & Switzerland – Though Switzerland always seem to make it to major finals they never seem to get past the first stage and I don’t see anything different this time, just not strong enough.

VERDICT: Group Stages

Every World Cup gets closer and closer every 4 years with the so called weaker nations slowly closing the gap in quality and organisation.  Its hard to see one of the big European or South American sides being knocked off the top, in my own opinion it would be wonderful for world football if this happened, if this does happen my money is on one of the African challengers, they have both the physical presence and ball skills to unnerve the best.

In closing football is like any other sport in the world, you can perceivably be the best but if you do not bring the right attitude and psychological prowess to the table then the weaker teams have a great opportunity to cause a major upset and there is always at least one.  With all that said sit back, relax, and enjoy the festival that is the World Cup.

Who do you think will win the famous trophy in South Africa? Please leave your opinions below…

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11 Comments

  1. Nick

    June 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Chile to the 1/4 while Germany don’t get out the group…

  2. El Chicko

    June 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Thats the beauty of making predictions, i like to step aside for a moment away from coventional thinking, and my gut feeling tells me the Germans will struggle, or maybe thats my heart willing the Germans to fail :). As for Chile, i did contradict myself by saying they would not get past the last 16, everyone needs a wild stab in the dark and they are my dark horses. They have an exuberance of youth and sometimes this could work in there favour, a certain no fear attitude springs to mind.

  3. Fab4

    June 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I actually agree that the Germans will struggle and wouldn’t be surprised if they failed to get out the group. Although i think it will be the Ausi’s and Serbi who get through.

  4. El Chicko

    June 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    The Serbs are looking a little flat at the moment, but who in their right mind is going to go all out in a friendly before the World Cup? i see these games more to do with match fitness than competition. On their day any team could win this world cup just look at Greece in the Euro Cup, no one expected that.

  5. James

    June 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the article i have been searching for one of these for the past few days, it always feels like the start of the World Cup when you start reading these. I have to agree with most of what has been said the Germans im sure will struggle and lets hope if its not England or my second favourite team Holland then one of the African teams will win it, can you imagine the celebrations in the whole of Africa if one of the teams were to win the tournament. even the Lions and buffalo would probably be so happy as to share a quiet night drinking a glass of wine together even if it was only for one day lol. Although like many i can’t really see past Spain as World Cup 2010 Champions.

  6. Ryan

    June 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I’m sorry but this is a really poor article.

    Here are a number of problems I have with it:

    *It’s extremely poorly written. Clearly you don’t think grammar or punctuation are important. But this undermines all your arguments by immediately making you come across as either lazy or thick.
    *It’s far too Premier League-centric. The ‘ones to watch’ are mostly Premier League players and the only exceptions are world-famous stars who every one knows about anyway. I think this is typified with your assertion that “if Torres and Fabregas are fit its only to [Spain’s] advantage”. Fabregas is not an automatic first-choice for Spain. Surely you should know this. Why do you overlook Iniesta and Xavi? Also, saying that a player remaining fit is to the advantage of his team seems like a rather obvious and inane point to make.
    *Frankly I am most worried about the ignorance displayed in this article. A few examples: “just like the France team between WC 98 and Euro 2000 they look unstoppable” – France were very successful during this period, that is beyond dispute but to say they looked unstoppable is a gross exaggeration. In fact, they were only second favourites for the latter competition behind the Dutch; “Many fancy France to win this years tournament” – do they? The general consensus is that Raymond Domenech is an idiot and that France were lucky to get through qualifying. Their form has not improved since, typified by the 1-1 draw with Tunisia in last weekend’s friendly. I have not heard anyone tipping them; “The only problem is [Brazil} have Dunga as their manager” – here the general consensus is that despite his inexperience he has so far done an admirable job putting together a Brazilian side that are very well organised at the back as well as displaying their usual flair going forward. Maybe during the course of the tournament you will be proven right but I suspect not; Germany not to qualify from their group – this is the German side who won their qualifying group without losing a single game, come on, that’s just insane.

    • Football Talk

      June 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      Ryan – we welcome criticism here on Football Talk and it’s nice to see your comment was put across in a fairly sensible manner. To answer one of your points, as we are a website that focuses on the Premier League, all contributors are asked to relate their articles to the premiership as much as possible.

      Also, we are an independent site that relies on football fans to contribute to its content, therefore it should not be regarded as professionally written. Feel free to submit some articles if you feel you could do better.

      These are the opinions of the writer, if you feel differently why not write about it and see what people think of your predictions?

  7. El Chicko

    June 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    You make some valid points there, i don’t claim to be a football knowledge god and as this was my first piece of writing i’m always looking for some criticism. I don’t know if i would have used the term ‘ignorance’ to describe the article. Like all articles, many of the points are from the opinion of the writer, whether right or wrong they are opinions and i find it very harsh to assume them as ‘ignorant’. I don’t want people to agree with me all the time otherwise where would the discussion come from?

  8. Ryan

    June 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Hmm, it’s actually nice to find a writer and website so receptive to criticism.

    El Chicko – I agree. I think it was probably a little too harsh to call the article “ignorant” and I shall retract that.

    I disagree with some of the opinions admittedly and I think some of your assertions are just plain wrong – but there is also a fair amount of well-informed opinion here too and to dismiss it all was unfair and I apologise.

    Also, I overlooked the fact that the website itself is Premier League-centric. Specifically big four-centric (and Tottenham). This is something that just annoys me generally. I find reading constantly about the biggest sides in England fairly dull. How much fascinating could have been said this season about Manchester City or Portsmouth or Hull or Burnley…?

    I will probably contribute some articles for you though. If I think I have something valid and interesting to say about a non-big 4 club, I would appreciate it if it was not immediately dismissed.

  9. El Chicko

    June 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Variety is the spice of life Ryan i agree with my article being a little Premiership-centric, i hate to admit it but my knowledge outside England has dwindled since the 90’s and early 2000 just before i went travelling for 6 years and more or less witnessed all my know how of the beautiful game dwindle before my very eyes. I look forward to reading your articles, you seem like a well educated chap.

  10. Kayarbee

    July 3, 2010 at 10:08 am

    With Lionel Messi’ s orchestrate feet & Diego Mardona playing the violin……..it will be sheer music to see “Aregentina lifting the world cup 2010 a sheer 18 carat all in gold…………viva Argentania..

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