June 10, 2010

World Cup groups G & H

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Brazil is the favourites to win it all and rightfully so. This “Group of Death” won’t slow them down. Other than arguably Spain, the Brazilians feature the most talent in the world and love to play on the grandest stage. They are so loaded that even Ronaldinho – featured in the superb Nike ad – didn’t make the team. While this vintage of the team is more defence-based than the usual offensive powerhouses, it can still go forward at when it wants and can score at will.

The Ivory Coast suffered a huge blow when Didier Drogba, arguably the best African striker, broke his arm in a warmup. There is still a chance he’ll play, but how effective could he be at spacing and jockeying for position with that cast on? Even if he’s out, it’s not like the Elephants aren’t a talented squad, capable of moving. They’ll just be a diminished one, at best.

There is much to like about Portugal right now. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t score during qualifying and the squad recently had a scoreless draw, at home, against the Cape Verde Islands. Ranked No. 3 in the world coming into the Cup final, this team is primed to be upset if the Elephants can show them what they’re made of.

If North Korea were any other country, you’d feel sorry for them. But the DPRK hasn’t exactly been playing nice in world politics for a long while now and will be receiving little to no crowd support. I’m not even sure if North Koreans would be allowed to travel to South Africa. This squad, like New Zealand might be lucky to score a goal.

Finally, Group H is another one of the weak ones. There’s two teams that are sure to go through – although the best upsets are the ones you don’t see coming. One of the two teams that should advance is Chile, who shouldn’t have a problem picking up their first World Cup win since 1962. They’re young, offensively-minded and a lot of sleepers that could break out and become stars. Chile could be exposed on the counter, but can also overwhelm in the opponent’s third.

Honduras is one of the older teams in the tournament, with several key players on the wrong side of 30. They’re quite weak defensively but can catch fire offensively and really light up the scoreboard. That said, they’re also quite streaky and barely qualified for the final. Seeing how most of their players have only played club ball within the country, it’s hard to see them being talented enough to advance.

There isn’t much to be said about Spain that hasn’t already. The Euro 2008 champs have one of the deepest teams in the world and could survive injuries or suspensions if they occur. It’s not like they’ll even be challenged in their group either and should easily put up nine points.

Switzerland surprised a few people with their performance at Euro 2008, but that was more home field advantage than anything. The Swiss got lucky with a weak qualifying group and don’t have a very strong team. They’ll try to ply their disciplined brand of play, but that won’t work too well when they can’t hold possession.

Also, come back tomorrow for RTP’s knockout round predictions… and more!

1 Comment

  1. Germany looks solid !

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