Group G – Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea
Every World Cup we get a group of death and this looks like it this year with any of the top three being capable of advancing to the quarter finals at least. Even North Korea would have done OK in some of the groups so there will be no easy games here. Obviously Brazil will be everyone’s favourite to qualify who will join them?
Group F – Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group F on paper at least looks to be the weakest group in the draw and Italy will be expected to win the group easily. However things don’t always work out as planned and Paraguay who played well in qualifying look good enough to join them in the second round and could push them close for 1st place.
Group E – Holland, Cameroon, Denmark, Japan
Holland look clear favourites in this group and they should qualify with three wins on their way to the quarter finals at least. Cameroon and Denmark will both fancy their chances of grabbing the second place, and Japan will in all probability be pleased to finish anywhere above 4th.
Group D – Germany, Serbia, Australia, Ghana
In what looks one of the tighter groups Germany will be a strong favourite to advance and will probably be group winners. All the other group teams are in with a chance and this is reflected in their high FIFA rankings.
Germany have a terrific record in World Cup Tournaments having won the final three times (2 as West Germany) and appearing in the final on 4 other occasions. They almost invariably reach the quarter finals and look in good form having come through a reasonably strong qualifying group without losing a game. Most of their squad are household names in Europe and they are currently amongst the favourites to win the Tournament outright. It would be one of the shocks of the tournament if they don’t qualify.
Group C – England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
England will be strong favourites to win this group which looks one of the easier ones to predict although it might not be the walk over it looks on paper. The USA are a strong team and could easily pull of a shock and both Algeria and Slovenia are capable of upsetting the odds on their day as hey showed in qualifying.
GROUP B: Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea
Group B on the face of it looks to be one of the easier ones to predict the winner of, however the race for second place is wide open with any one of Greece, Nigeria & South Korea being more than capable of qualifying for the second stages In this group the game order might have a higher bearing and Greece might just have an edge in playing Argentina in their final game.
GROUP A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
The 2010 World Cup Finals will kick off on 11th June 2010 with two games from this group – host nation South Africa playing Mexico and France Playing Uruguay. This is an intriguing group and certainly has not done the hosts any favours.
France will be strong favourites to progress but one only has to look back to the 2002 Finals to see that things don’t always go according to plan. However they are not under the same level of pressure as they were in 2002 and they showed in 2006 that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Their Euro 2008 campaign was a bit of a disaster and they only just scraped past a plucky Republic of Ireland team thanks to a blatant hand ball, however it will be a major surprise if they don’t top the group.
Mexico came through the CONCACAF group in second place behind the USA and although they looked comfortable in qualifying they are a much better team at home than away as qualifying defeats in El Salvador and Honduras testify. They have also looked a little less than impressive of late with their last three games being narrow wins over New Zealand and North Korea and a 0-0 draw with Iceland. This is not particularly impressive form and being poor travelers their expected second place in the group is by no means assured.
South Africa who qualified as hosts will benefit from strong local support and will be well suited by the climate especially as a large contingent of the squad will be home based players and are in good form having gained a credible 1-1- draw away to Paraguay recently. They will be hard to beat and could take the second qualifying place if they can avoid defeat against Mexico in their opening fixture.
Uruguay struggled to qualify finally winning a playoff against Costa Rica to gain their place however they are an experienced team and given the population of Uruguay is only around 4 million they have done wonders to qualify. They are characteristically tenacious and in Marcelo Zalayeta and Diego Forlan have strikers who could snatch a goal against any team. They haven’t played any international matches since they qualified so their form is hard to assess but it will be a surprise if they get soundly beaten by any team.
So who will qualify? Well no prizes for guessing that I will predict France to go through probably as group winners, however this is one of the more open groups and any of the other three could qualify for the last 16, although it would be a major upset if they went much further. I just give the edge to Mexico who probably have the strongest squad of the three and they have the experience needed in tough groups such as this. Both Uruguay and South Africa will push them close but neither looks good enough to beat Mexico or France so the final Prediction is:
4 South Africa
- Image by coda via Flickr
Mexico looked far from impressive against North Korea during their a 2-1 victory in La Comarca last night. To be fair the North Koreans dit play 11 men behind the ball for most of the match but only Javier Hernandez and possibly Braulio Luna looked anything like the standard needed to make an impression in the World Cup in South Africa especially given their tough group. On this showing North Korea will make things difficult for their opponents but it will take a miracle for them to progress through the group stages.
It now looks increasingly likely that David Beckham will miss out on England’s trip to the World Cup Finals in South Africa after suffering an Achilles injury which will keep him sidelined for about 6 months. It will be a shame if he misses out as he would become the first player in England’s history to go to four consecutive World Cups if he goes.
Although at 34 he was probably not going to be an integral part of the team his experience and game changing ability would have been an asset.
England are currently one of the favourites for the 2010 World Cup with only Spain and Brazil more fancied in the betting.
In their 13th game against African countries England managed a welcome win, but were far from convincing as their preparation for the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa got underway. Against a skillful Egypt team fresh from their 7th victory in the African Cup Of Nations England failed to impress and went into the dressing room a goal down at half time.
Fabio Capello made some inspired changes at half time bringing on Peter Crouch and Michael Carrick and this turned the game with Crouch scoring the equaliser and England’s third.
A 3-1 win look convincing but had the linesman spotted that Peter Crouch was offside for one of his goals and the goalie made a better effort at stopping Shaun Wright-Phillips volley then things would have looked very different.
Still Fabio Capello will be happy with was England’s 500th win, even if he has lots to think about squad wise.