Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thoughts On The World Cup 2010 Draw

I know, I know... the World Cup Draw happened Friday, and every one else in the world has had their say by now. Well, I have not been feeling well, and I had other things to post about on Friday. Besides, better late than never, right?

So, here's my thoughts on the drawing for World Cup 2010 in South Africa:

Every big tournament has a Group Of Death, and while South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, and France certainly don't constitute such, this may still be the toughest group to choose who is going to make it to the second round. Let's call them the Group of Dearth. South Africa, as hosts, have the home advantage, and surely will get all the calls going their way. Mexico struggled early in the last stage of qualifying as they played on the road due to the swine flu scare, but once they got back to playing at home climbed right back up where they belong. Uruguay and France both had to win playoffs to make it to South Africa, France making it through with a bit of controversy thanks to Thierry Henry's hand ball assist against Ireland. Flip a few coins, roll a few dice... I'm gonna go with France and Uruguay making out of this group, if only because they'll be going into the tournament with something to prove.

This one should be easier, Argentina should be top of this group, right? But, wait, Maradona's still at the helm, and they barely managed to qualify directly. That said, I still have to go with Argentina making to the second round. After that, it's a bit harder a call, though I'd be surprised if Greece makes it... so flip another coin, heads it's Nigeria joining Argentina in making to the second round, tails it's South Korea.

England should be a sure thing, but I'm hoping they lay an egg. As for the USA, they won't be in Europe, which is where they always falter, so they should make it through as well. Algeria and Slovenia with both be tough opponents to be sure, but surely after their early exit in Germany back in 2006 the Yanks will be out to prove that making it to the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup wasn't a fluke.

Germany should be very happy with this group, and shouldn't have any problems making it past this lot. They do, however, have a shadow hanging over them, as Robert Enke, who was expect to be their starting keeper for the tournament committed suicide by stepping in from of an on coming train in early November. That could effect the spirit of the entire team, but how is, of course, the question. Still, while they have not been convincing of late, the Germans always seem to save their best performances for World Cup play. Australia, Serbia, and Ghana? I've got to go with Ghana making it through to the second round, though the Ausies could well pull the upset.

Netherlands should make it through, as should Denmark. Netherlands breezed through their qualifiers, winning all 8 of their games by scoring 17 goals and only conceding 2, but had an easier group than the Danes. Cameroon could well pull off an upset, as the Indomitable Lions are not a team to take lightly. Japan will be lucky if they can finish third in this group, but thanks for coming.

The Italians should top this group, even second place should cause shame amongst the Azzurri. Paraguay, with their near perfection of the counter attacking system should take out Slovakia, who showed defensive weakness during qualifying (giving up 10 goals in 10 games as a group leader is nearly unheard of) if they can keep the high scoring Slovakia in check themselves. New Zealand will be lucky if they avoid the label of worst team of the tournament.

Finally, we come to the true Group of Death. Brazil should lead the group when all is said and done, but after that? North Korea and the Ivory Coast are capable sides. Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo, whom many consider the best player in the world at the moment. Every match in this group should be highly entertaining affairs, but when the dust clears I expect Portugal will join Brazil in reaching the second round.

This should be easy for Spain, despite losing to the USA in the Confederations Cup, still have to be considered the best national team in the world at the moment, unless your a Brazil fan, of course. Switzerland topped their qualifying group, but it couldn't have been easier for them, as their only real opponents were second place Greece. Honduras did well to qualify, but I think they will find themselves in over their heads on the world stage. Chile, then, should be able to sneak through to the second round. They played very will in South American qualifiers, but in truth I wouldn't be surprised if they falter, leaving an opening for the Swiss.

In other news, the rumor of Javier Collado retiring seems to have proved false, as he refereed Argentinos Jrs 2-1 win over San Lorenzo. I've seen no word on there being any trouble, and have no doubt that, after the fiasco following Newell's game at Colón, he was on his best behavior.

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