World Cup 2010 – The Preview – Different Venue, Same Samba Beat

Posted: June 10, 2010 by The Mark in Soccer
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The World Cup is finally here and I’m here to get you up to speed on what’s gonna happen in South Africa.  Remember to come back after every matchday to get my thoughts on what’s going on in the World Cup.

I don’t think there’s much excitement from the other contributors at Reverse Oreo Sports but my excitement level is at near Wrestlemania levels.  As I stated in my preview to this preview, I haven’t missed a minute of the World Cup since 1994.  I watched a ton of games between 1982 and 1990 but they didn’t always have every game on or I would have been all over them too.  I’m already planning my sleep schedule around these games because living in Korea means we’ll have games starting at 8:30 pm and the latest game starting at 3:30 am.

There are so many great players in this World Cup but it seems to me that there are not that many great teams.  Before writing this post I was all over England and germany doing well in the tournament but looking at the groups and the games more closely, I’ve had a change of heart.  I want England to win but I just don’t think they can.  Fabio Capello might be able to get more out of England than any other coach but it may not be enough.  Italy shouldn’t do well but somehow they’ll manage.  So many storylines and that’s what makes the World Cup so great.

World Cup 2010 in South Africa should be interesting.  The venue makes it even more interesting.  Will there be problems?  I hope not.  Africa deserved to finally host this prestigious tournament and South Africa was probably the best choice.  I’m sure there will be minor glitches but there always are, except at Germany 2006 because the Germans know how to get things done.

I grew up watching Italy because the family is from there so they will always be my team but this team is annoying the hell out of me.  For the past eight years this team has been so whiney and annoying that it’s been hard for me to root for them but I always do and always will.  I’m looking forward to the new generation of Italian stars.  Maybe they’ll be more tolerable than this one.

Let me drop some knowledge on you.

Group A (France, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay):

France

As we all know, France shouldn’t be in this World Cup but they are and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t make it out of this group.  They’re stacked but this team won’t go too far.  Hugo Lloris (Lyon) is one of the top keepers in the world so he should be solid.  On of my favorite players, Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), is on this team but the player to watch might be midfielder Yoann Gourcuff (Bordeaux).  He was with AC Milan for a bit but they let him loose (too soon).  Everyone wants him and he should be moving on to bigger and better things later this summer.

Mexico

My sleeper team in this World Cup is Mexico.  I have them making some noise in this tournament.  They’re a young team with a surprising amount of European based players.  It’s probably the most European based players Mexico has ever had going into any World Cup.  Giovani Dos Santos (Galatasaray) should be the star and he can make things happen.  I saw Mexico beat Italy last week in a friendly and Mexico just looked faster, quicker and had more energy than the Italians.

Giovani Dos Santos will make some noise

South Africa

South Africa are the hosts but that might be all they have going for them.  No host nation has ever failed to make it out of the first round.  This might be the year it happens.  Steven Pienaar (Everton) is the brightest star on this team but the rest of the squad is so-so.  There are sixteen South African League based players and I don’t think that’s a good thing.  Anyway, thanks for hosting.

Uruguay

I want to like Uruguay but they might not have enough to get themselves to the second round.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Ajax) should give teams fits but the midfield is where they might not stack up.  I hope Palermo’s Edinson Cavani gets a chance to show his stuff but most likely England is in his future.

Group winner:  Mexico

Runner-up:  France

Group B (Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece):

Argentina

How does a team as stacked as Argentina limp into the World Cup?  Somehow Diego Maradona is a big help and a huge hinderance to this team.  Hopefully he can keep it together through the tournament without hitting or shooting anyone.  The Inter duo of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso are huge omissions but let’s not forget that the greatest player in the world is on this team.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) should OWN this World Cup.  If he struggles, so does Argentina.  If Diego Milito (Inter) is his strike partner, they should be unstoppable.  Will Carlos Tevez (Man City, for now) get the nod over Milito?  Tough choices for El Pibe de Oro.  By the way, Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid) and Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid) are also forwards on this team.  That’s a nice problem to have.

The king of the (soccer) world

Nigeria

This team should do well but will they?  Playing on African soil doesn’t hurt.  Nigeria has a lot of good players but not great ones and that’s what will keep them down.  Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg) is key for this team.

Korea Republic (the good one)

South Korea has a ton of talent but most of it is in the midfield.  Park Ji Sung (Manchester United), Lee Chung Yong (Bolton), and Kim Sung Yeung (Celtic) will control the game for the Reds but who’s gonna put the ball in the net?  Park Chu Young (AS Monaco) is on the big stage playing in France but he only had eight goals in twenty appearances in Ligue 1.  An aging Ahn Jung Hwan (Dalian Shide) is on this team but it may only be for sentimental purposes.  Lee Seung Yeoul (FC Seoul) probably be the player to pick up the slack.

Greece

Sure Greece won Euro 2004 but what have you done lately?  This team doesn’t scare me one bit.  Georgios Samaras (Celtic) and Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Liverpool) are probably the best players on this team.  I would tell you about more players but I don’t want to type all those a’s, o’s, i’s, u’s, s’s and t’s.

Group winner:  Argentina

Runner-up:  South Korea

Group C (Algeria, England, Slovenia, USA):

Algeria

At first I thought this team was France II but, looking at their roster, I was wrong.  Algerian players are all over Europe, not just France.  They play in nine different European leagues.  Algeria was good enough to beat African powerhouses Egypt to make it to the World Cup but not good enough to make it out of the first round in South Africa.

England

This England team is very good but it will only go as far as their goalkeeping will take them and that’s the problem.  David James (Portsmouth) is shaky, Joe Hart (Birmingham City) is young and Robert Green (West Ham) is new.  If Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) continues his hot form, this team will be fun to watch.

Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United) is out but that’s not the biggest loss to this team, Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United) is.  Hargreaves was by far the best player for England in Germany 2006.  He could play anywhere and came up huge when the team needed him.  Sadly, he hasn’t played much in the last 19 months due to an injury.  Versatile players are gold to a team.

You will be missed Owen Hargreaves

Slovenia

This team usually does not play good defensively but Bostjan Cesar (Grenoble) will be their rock on defense and it should improve.  This is a very young team.  I don’t know why but this team will make some waves in this group.  I’m a sucker for teams that have players whose last names end in ic.  Maybe that’s why I also like Serbia in this tournament.  Samir Handanovic (Udinese) is a proven keeper in Serie A and that could be the difference between them finishing second or third.

USA

As much as I’m not a fan of USA Soccer, this team has talent.  Not just mediocre MLS talent but talent with real European experience.  I hope they’re not expecting too much from Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), seeing as how he missed the entire Serie A season due to an injury.  Plus, he just wasn’t that good when he was healthy anyway.  Is Jozy Altidore (Hull City) the answer?  He didn’t do much in England this year.  I’m sure the big fish in a small pond, Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) will get a lot of face time.  Whatever!

One of the reasons why I like the World Cup is because it’s the time every four years when the US pretends to care about soccer and vow to take it to the next level in the hearts of all Americans.  Not so much.  They forget that four years ago the level of interest was exactly the same, no more, no less.

Group winner:  England

Runner-up:  Slovenia

Group D (Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia):

Australia

Australia has a lot of players you may have heard of but none that really scare you.  Tim Cahill (Everton) is their biggest weapon but he’s struggling to be fit for the opener against Germany.  Don’t expect too much from this team.

Germany

Germany is a machine when it comes to big time competitions.  Michael Ballack (Chelsea) is out but I’m sure this team will be just fine.  Expect big things from Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (FC Cologne) and Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich).

Bastian will be Germany's BMOC

Ghana

Because of their quickness and pace, Ghana did a lot of damage in the 2006 World Cup but this team might not be as good as that one.  The loss of Michael Essien (Chelsea) is a big one.  Sulley Muntari (Inter) and Stephen Appiah (Bologna) will have to carry the load.  Another African team that won’t go far.

Serbia

Serbia, formally known as Serbia and Monetenegro, formally known as Yugoslavia, are very talented.  Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Aleksandar Kolarov (Lazio). Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Dejan Stankovic (Inter) and Nikola Zigic (Valencia) are all big stars in Europe and they can get this team out of the first round.  The only problem I see is that they have a retread in Radomir Antic at the helm.

Group winner:  Germany

Runner-up:  Serbia

Group E (Cameroon, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands)

Cameroon

You never know which Cameroon team will show up to the big games.  This team is very young.  Even Samuel Eto’o (Inter)  is only 28 years old.  Cameroon might do better in another group but Denmark and the Netherlands are better.

Denmark

This team should have a pretty good defense with the likes of Christian Poulsen (Juventus), Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Simon Kjaer (Palermo) and Per Kroldrup (Fiorentina).  That’s formidable.  Forward Nicklas Bendtner (Liverpool) likes like he’ll be back from a groin injury in time for the opener.  Not too many people are talking up Denmark but this is a solid team.

Japan

Most likely a down tournament for Japan.  Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow) and Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F Marinos) are the stars but there is little else to be excited about.  They were beaten at home 2-0 by South Korea in a friendly in late May.

Netherlands

This team is filled with talent but the injury to Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) casts a big shadow over the team.  He’s surely out of the opener with Denmark.  I think they might be able to do without him for the opening round of this weak group.  Mark Van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Nigel De Jong (Manchester City) can pick up the slack until round two.  Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) and Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan) should be lethal up front.  Huntelaar is my pick to be among the top scorers in the tournament.

I can see this guy scoring a lot of goals

Group winner:  Netherlands

Runner-up:  Denmark

Group F (Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia)

Italy

How Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria) and Fabrizio Miccoli (Palermo) didn’t make this team is beyond me but coach Lippi has his “guys” and who are we to change his mind?  There has to be a reason why Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus) is on this team.  It just can’t be the fact that he plays for Juventus.

Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan) looks like he’ll be ready for the opener but he might still sit out just to be safe.  He suffered a groin injury in a friendly against Mexico last week.  He’s key.  This team is an older team and don’t expect them to repeat.  They’ll get lucky like they always do and go far but no more magic.

New Zealand

This team should be happy to be here.  If Australia stays in the Oceania region then the Kiwi’s are just watching this tournament on television.  New Zealand is probably one of the worst teams in the World Cup.  There are quite a few local players on this team and that’s not good (see South Africa).  Plus, there are two players who aren’t even attached to a league team anywhere.  How does that happen?  Not much to say.

Paraguay

Looks like a solid team and hopefully Roque Santa Cruz (Manchester City) can knock off some the rust and make a difference for this team.  Paraguay likes to grind out games and they’re not big on scoring in the World Cup.  Let’s hope they can be more interesting this year.  They’re lucky to be in this weak group.

Slovakia

As far as I can tell, Marek Hamsik (Napoli) and Martin Skrtel (Liverpool) are the best players on this team and everyone else is “good”.  Not good enough for this World Cup but this is a really young team.  Watch out for the Czech Republic’s less popular sister at Brazil 2014.

It's too soon for Hamsik but at Brazil 2014, watch out for Slovakia

Group winner:  Italy

Runner-up:  Paraguay

Group G (Brazil, Ivory Coast, Korea DPR, Portugal)

Brazil

No Ronaldinho, no problem.  Brazil is just Brazil.  They got younger and are just as good as ever.  Kaka (Real Madrid) is the key and it doesn’t matter who’s playing alongside him because they’re all good.  They’ll probably coast in the last game of round one because it won’t mean much.  Champs?

Ivory Coast

Before the tournament everyone tries to figure out which African team will go the furthest.  How about none of them?  They all don’t make it out of round one.  This is the best African team in the tournament but not the best African team out there.  Egypt would have done well had they been able to beat Algeria in the one-off game to get into the World Cup.  Too bad Didier Drogba (Chelsea) will be limited because of an elbow injury sustained during a friendly against Japan.  As Drogba goes, so does the team.

Korea DPR (the bad one)

Don’t know much about this team except that they only have three players who ply their trade abroad.  The rest of the players come from the PRK League and I have a feeling that league isn’t one of the strongest in Asia.  They had a ton of trouble with Nigeria in a friendly last week.  I’ll be surprised if they score a goal.  On a side note, I heard that the North Korea games will be shown in the DPRK only if they win.  Looks like North Koreans won’t get the chance to see World Cup soccer.

Win or don't come home

Portugal

If Portugal can take time away from diving to actually play good soccer, they will have no trouble in this group.  The Brazil-Portugal match-up will be one of the marquee games of this tournament.  Too bad it’s the last game in the group and won’t mean much.  Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) will own the center of the midfield and Nani (Manchester United) should be causing trouble over on the right side.  Defensively they’re solid.

Group winner:  Brazil

Runner-up:  Portugal

Group H (Chile, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland)

Chile

Chile will make it out of this group because they’re better than Honduras and Switzerland but not much further than that.  Mark Gonzalez (CSKA Moscow) and Humberto Suazo (Zaragoza) will team up at forward and should be able to punish everyone except Spain.

Mark Gonzalez should be enough to get Chile over

Honduras

Honduras has some quality players.  Wilson Palacios (Tottenham), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan), David Suazo (Genoa), and Victor Bernardez (Anderlecht) have made it in Europe but I’m not sold on the rest.

Spain

Remember when Spain was supposed to go into World Cups and European Cups and be great, only to fade early?  I do.  Am I supposed to forget about that since they won Euro 2008?  Looking at this team, maybe I can.  Will Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal, for now) be fit?  That’s huge.  David Villa (Barcelona) and Fernando Torres (Liverpool) should score lots of goals.  This team goes far.

Switzerland

Switzerland has a collection of good but not great players.  No one really excites me enough to choose Switzerland over Chile.

Group winner:  Spain

Runner-up:  Chile

Round 2 (Round of 16):

1A v 2B – Mexico v Korea – Winner:  Mexico

1C v 2D – England v Serbia – Winner:  England

1D v 2C – Germany v Slovenia – Winner:  Germany

1B v 2A – Argentina v France – Winner:  Argentina

1E v 2F – Netherlands v Paraguay – Winner:  Netherlands

1G v 2H – Brazil v Chile – Winner:  Brazil

1F v 2E – Italy v Denmark – Winner:  Italy

1H v 2G – Spain v Portugal – Winner:  Spain

Quarterfinal:

Netherlands v Brazil – Winner:  Brazil

Mexico v England – Winner:  England

Argentina v Germany – Winner:  Germany

Italy v Spain – Winner:  Spain

Semifinal:

England v Brazil – Winner:  Brazil

Brazil will be too fast for England.

Germany v Spain – Winner:  Spain

Germany will want to try and slow this game down but they might not be able to stop Spain

Final

Brazil v Spain

If this final happens it will be one of the best finals ever.

Champion

Brazil

This team is just too stacked to not win the World Cup.

Top Scorers:

Lionel Messi

Klaas Jan Huntelaar

David Villa

World Cup MVP:

Kaka

I didn’t mention them but I hope the referees don’t ruin this World Cup.  Be consistent and don’t try to be an important part of the game.  If you go through a game without noticing the referee, that’s a good referee.  Unfortunately, Olegario Benquerenca of Portugal is one of the referees in the tournament.  I mentioned him in February and said he shouldn’t get another big game after his performance in the AC Milan – Manchester United Champions League, round of 16, first leg match.  Somehow, he’s in South Africa.  Roberto Rosetti of Italy is also in the World Cup.  Why?  Is this the best Italy can produce?

Enjoy the World Cup.  I know I will.

Looks like the trophy will be headed to Brazil. Hopefully no one steals it, again

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