World Cup 2010 Group Predictions
By Graham Lockwood.
With just 1 day to go before South Africa becomes the centre of the world for a month, there will be hundreds of previews, predictions and prophecies. Here’s another one, group by group.
Their record against the three sides they will face in the group of one defeat in 13 meetings should be good enough to see them through.
Watch out for: A helping hand
Star player: Frank Ribery; if it wasn’t for Ribery, the hand may never have even got the chance to interfere.
Surprise impact from: Yoann Gourcuff; Disappointing at Milan, has a chance to prove that he can be world class.
Will end up: Topping the group should see them face Nigeria, South Korea or Greece in the second round, but a possible quarter final clash with Rooney and co will see Euro 2004 defeat avenged.
Runners up: Mexico
Unfortunately the South African fairytale will not come true, and Mexico will edge out a brutal Uruguay in what should be a mammoth group decider on June 22nd in Bloemfontein.
Watch out for: With Mexico and Uruguay paired together, bet on this group to have the highest count of yellow and red cards.
Star player: Rafael Marquez; Its not often a defender is a star player, but after the group they will need his experience if they are to have a chance.
Surprise impact from: Carlos Salcido; 5 yellows and a red will mean he makes an impact on someone.
Will end up: May cause Argentina a couple of problems in the second round but that’s all.
Over 100 players used in qualifying? A 6-1 defeat in Bolivia? Maradona a coach? It spells either world cup winners or first round casualties.
Watch out for: Maradona proving he is better than Mourinho at keeping Messi quite for 90 minutes.
Star player: Everyone will be hoping to say Messi at the end of the tournament as when he plays well, you don’t change the channel.
Surprise impact from: Angel de Maria; 10 goals for club and country this season has slowly put him on the radar.
Will end up: Messi to follow in his manager’s footsteps, which could still mean winners or first round casualties.
Runners up: Nigeria
Another tough one to call, but the pace of the Africans may just be too much for the organized Greeks and the structured South Koreans.
Watch out for: A host of premier league stars looking to shine on the world stage.
Star player: Peter Odemwingie; Born in Uzbekistan, plays in Russia, could have played for Russia but Nigeria’s current star.
Surprise impact from: Yakubu; Hot and cold striker but has always managed goals for whichever club he plays for. Should at least get his first world cup goal.
Will end up: You can see why the Nigerian Football Federation have targeted a semi final place with France and England the possible route, but beating one of those two would be a huge achievement, beating both would be a miracle.
Only the most un-patriotic of people will bet against England winning the group.
Watch out for: Arsenal’s Theo Walcott; watching it in a pub near you.
Star player: Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney; Together with captain Gerrard will probably determine how far England progress.
Surprise impact from: Emile Heskey; A goal every 4 games in club football, a goal every 8 games for England. A record that would not matter one bit if he scores the winner in Johannesburg on the 11th July.
Will end up: With half the country hoping England win the group and half hoping that they finish second so that it fits in with work schedules, a quarter final penalty shoot out defeat to either France or Argentina is on the cards.
Runners up: USA
Despite Algeria and Slovenia causing England some problems, the Americans will see off their challenges with relative ease.
Watch out for: Average premier league players suddenly becoming superstars.
Star player: Landon Donavon; one premier league player who is already a superstar for the Yanks.
Surprise impact From: DaMarcus Beasley; a prime example of average to superstar in the coming month.
Will end up: With most of the country tipping them to win their group, a second round defeat to Germany will turn their minds back to Baseball, American football and Basketball.
Because they are Germany.
Watch out for: Miroslav Klose; With a world cup silver shoe and a world cup golden shoe already in his locker, Klose will score a lot of people many points for their world cup dream teams.
Star player: Phillip Lahm; The captain’s armband will only inspire him to make more rampaging forward runs.
Surprise impact From: Mesut Ozil; not so much a surprise with his growing reputation but the sort of player that will stand out for an average looking team on paper.
Will end up: Let’s face it, probably in the final four at least.
Runners up: Serbia
This is my group of death. Ghana and Australia will both also fancy their chances.
Watch out for: The same players, in the same competition but under a different name in four years time. In 2006 it was Serbia and Montenegro and 1998 saw Yugoslavia compete.
Star player: Nemanja Vidic; One of the more technically gifted squads in the tournament, it is the brute power of Nikola Zigic and the Manchester United defender that adds to the anticipation for a good world cup.
Surprise impact from: Milan Jovanovic; 52 goals in 116 games for Standard Liege and a good world cup will most probably be followed by a torrid time at Liverpool.
Will end up: A possible second round meeting with England will lead to much nail biting below the Scottish border. Vidic and Rooney may have to publicly admit they are ‘still friends’.
No surprises here surely, with 8 wins and just 2 goals conceded and more success in their warm up matches, surely a walk in the park for the Flying Dutchmen.
Watch out for: A completely different Holland after the group stages.
Star player: Wesley Sneijder; Just ahead of Robben and Van Persie due to his greater chance of playing in every game injury free.
Surprise impact From: Arjen Robben; recently said ‘Specialists compared me to a formula 1 car, whenever one screw is loose, the engine is blown. But my problems are behind me now’. Obviously said before a recent hamstring problem may keep him out until he stars in the later rounds.
Will end up: Clearly have the ability to finally shake of the underachiever tag as Spain did in 2008, but a weak defence could prove costly against Brazil in the quarters.
Runners up: Cameroon
June the 19th in Pretoria, or 7.30 on ITV1 is a game to watch as surely the winners of Denmark vs Cameroon will progress alongside Holland.
Watch out for: Sitting on the fence here, but Cameroon have never beaten Japan so watch out for Nakamura and co as well.
Star player: Samual Eto’o; Still world class.
Surprise impact From: The Tottenham duo of Assou-Ekotto and Bassong may form a surprisingly formidable African defence.
Will end up: Could surprise Italy after they assumingly walk through group F, but realistically a repeat of 1990 and a quarter final place is unlikely.
In a group with three teams outside the top thirty in the world should not cause the Azzurri too many headaches.
Watch out for: Italy vs New Zealand to be the biggest margin of victory in the tournament.
Star player: Gianluigi Buffon; After a stroll though group F, the Italians will have to turn to still arguably one of he best goalkeepers in the world to get them much further.
Surprise Impact From: Giorgio Chiellini; The new Materazzi made sure team mate Cannavaro watched Euro 2008 on the box after a tackle in training and Robin Van Persie missed five months of this season due to a challenge from the 6 foot 1 defender.
Will end up: A quarter final place should be a minimum, but its here that the oldest squad in the tournament could be outdone by the classy Spanish.
Runners up: Paraguay
I would love to say New Zealand, but as they haven’t beaten any of the worlds top 50 teams for 8 years its hard to see them registering a point.
Watch out for: Oscar Cardozo; Quiet for his country, but 56 goals in 84 games for Benfica proves he does have the ability. Time to shine in a weak group.
Star player: Christian Riveros; Roque Santa Cruz would be the obvious choice, but without Riveros’ forays forward he won’t get the goals he needs to become Paraguay’s all time record goalscorer.
Surprise impact From: Denis Caniza; at 35, he is closing in on 100 caps and his versatility could be crucial.
Will end up: Only equalling their previous best effort of the second round.
When the draw was made this was the original ‘group of death’ but a Drogba-less Ivory Coast and a Carlos Queiroz lead Portugal should be dealt with by the 2002 winners.
Watch out for: Commentators praising the quality of Brazil’s defence – something not heard for a long time.
Star Player: Pick your own from a list of Kaka, Robinho, Fabiano, Lucio, Alves and even the keeper Cesar.
Surprise impact From: Ramires; The youngest man in the squad shows how Brazil have adapted their play, he works hard but still shows flashes of brilliance.
Will end up: A quarter final against Holland could be the game of the tournament and a semi final against England could be the cause of much heartache for us ‘poms’. Is there room for a sixth star?
Runners up: Portugal
Their games against Brazil and the Ivory Coast are must watches, but Africa’s greatest chance of success will curse the draw when Portugal progress.
Watch out for: Penalties; if the inevitable happens, walk off as Portugal are the only team out of the 32 never to have lost a competitive shootout.
Star player: Christiano Ronaldo; to be honest he probably isn’t in this squad but one day surely he will transfer his club form onto the biggest stage.
Surprise impact From: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba; The type of player to play despite a broken arm and deliver a knockout blow to Portugal or even Brazil.
Will end up: If Ronaldo performs as he can he could carry the team past Spain, Italy and Argentina to the final. However if he doesn’t, arguably the toughest run in past the group stage will be too tough for Queiroz and he may be looking for work come August.
Spain’s rise from under achievers to arguably one of the best two sides in the world alongside Brazil will surely see them past Chile, Switzerland and Honduras.
Watch out for: The return of the under achiever tag and a new tag of one tournament wonders.
Star player: Any side that does not have Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas as a definite first choice must have a host of stars and that is certainly the case. As with Brazil pick from the following list; Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Silva, Torres, Villa and don’t forget Gerard Pique, who’s goal for Barcelona in the champions league semi final against Inter showed that he is learning from his gifted team mates and a good tournament could place him as the world’s best defender.
Surprise impact From: Carlos Puyol; amongst all the stars, his tough tackling and rugged demeanor could win them a game or two.
Will end up: A final against England would be immense. A final against Brazil is probably more expected.
Runners up: Chile
For New Zealand in group F, read Honduras in group H. Probably the two teams most people don’t want in their respective sweepstakes. However whoever draws them will become immediate fans and cheer the underdogs on all the way.
Watch out for: A South American war if Honduras get knocked out. Defeat in a 1970 world cup qualifying round sparked a war between themselves and El Salvador. It lasted 6 days and was known as the ‘Football War’.
Star player: Alexis Sanchez; The 21 year old has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United and has the pace and trickery to be a star by the time his side gets knocked out of the tournament.
Surprise impact from: Humberto Suazo; Top goalscorer in qualifying alongside the Greek Gekas with 10. They did play a lot of games though.
Will end up: There is a possibility that Chile could cause a couple of upsets, but surely Spain will reign in the group stage and Brazil will be too tough for them in the second round.
Who are your picks to progress from the groups? Please leave your opinions below….
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