World Cup Draw

For those of you who have not looked at ESPN lately and have not been paying attention to World Cup news, the Draw was today and gave us plenty to look forward to. Let’s break it down group by group.

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

This was an unfortunate draw for host South Africa. They are probably the worst team among the four and although they will have a distinct home-field advantage, their work is cut out for them. France has all sorts of talent but has been inconsistent in qualification. They should advance here, but if Domenech cannot get his men together then Uruguay or South Africa could take their spot. Mexico looks like the other team out of the group. They are experienced, talented and definitely could have gotten a worse draw. Uruguay boasts Athletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan, but are otherwise made up of surprising youngsters and crafty veterans. They could pull an upset, but I would not bet the house on it. My Prediction: 1. Mexico 2. France

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

Worth the price of admission

Argentina is clearly the class of this group, but that is to be expected since they are the seeded team. We can assume 7 points out of Argentina at the least, so let’s give them the top spot and look at the rest of it. I do not know much about South Korea except for Park, who is pretty decent. The South Koreans made a surprise run when the World Cup was in Seoul, but I would not bet on it again. Nigeria is among the West African Nations without notable Premiership superstars, but do not have a weak team in the least. However, the second spot will go to Greece, who play an unapologetically defensive style of football, and will thus not likely crash out without really having bad form. I wouldnt expect domination out of Greece, but just enough to advance. My Prediction: 1. Argentina 2. Greece

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

The Americans could not have been handed a kinder group. England is clearly very good and will most likely take 3 points from the match, but Algeria and Slovenia are two teams that the US should beat. Go ahead and give England 7 or 9 points and the Group C win, but barring total failure, the United States should advance with relative ease. If they cannot beat Algeria and Slovenia, then they do not deserve to advance anyway so do not worry about it. Since this is the US’ group I will go ahead and predict how they will do against their group on top of who will advance. My Prediction: England 2-0 USA, USA 2-0 Algeria, USA 1-0 Slovenia. 1. England 2. USA

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

The Germans are clearly the favorite of the group, but the other three are more than competitive and should provide some very entertaining football. The Socceroos are generally athletic and probably underrated on the international stage but we will see if they can sneak up on everyone like four years ago. The Black Stars of Ghana also have a very solid squad and should be able to compete for the second spot, though they will certainly not win it easy. My personal pick for the second spot is Serbia. They have a solid mix of underrated and well-respected players and many of them have experience on big st ages, though not necessarily this big. My Prediction: 1. Germany 2. Serbia

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Fun Fact: The Dutch wear orange because of William of Orange.

Well, as is clearly a developing trend, the seeded team is the clear favorite here and should advance in impressivefashion. They might even have the largest goal differential heading out of the group stage, but regardless, they are through with 9 points. Japan and Cameroon have shots at the second spot, but it is Denmark’s to lose in my opinion. Cameroon will do it if anyone, but the Danish are not bad and certainly good enough to get second in a somewhat lackluster group. However, not all will go to plan and the Cameroonians will push Denmark to their limits. I will even go as far as to say that Cameroon and Denmark will be even on 4 points, but Denmark will advance on GD. My Prediction: 1. Netherlands 2. Denmark

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Italy is the group winner, but they may not do it in especially impressive fashion. Their group is quietly somewhat challenging despite lacking the big names and all teams are capable of playing spoiler in the group. I would put my money on Slovakia to advance with 5 points, but if Paraguay ended with 5 and advanced I would nto be surprised in the least. New Zealand is not too bad, but they have yet to play a really quality team in qualification and you may well see a stage-fright group of Kiwis when the bright lights go on. My Prediction: 1. Italy 2. Slovakia

Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

This is the consensus Group of Death as of the three outstanding teams (not North Korea), only two can advance. I think we can safely assume that Brazil will advance, but the second spot should be a duel to the death. Drogba and the Coast vs. Ronaldo and the Portuguese. Like the old Chelsea vs. Man Utd days? Sure, why not, but should be compelling stuff. It would be easy to say that their head to head matchup will decide the second spot, but the true test is seeing who can potentially pull a point from their fixture against Brazil. If one can get a point there, it will make a huge difference when they face the other because a draw does not leave it up to goal differential. I am going to pick the Coast on this one if only because Portugal have underachieved since their 4th place finish in 2006. I apologize, but I wil not be talking about North Korea because, thanks to Kim Jong Il, no one knows anything about that team. Loosen up and lose the glasses Mr. Dictator, umm I mean President. My Predictions: 1. Brazil 2. Ivory Coast

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Could the draw have handed Spain an easier group? Probably not. Spain will get 9 points easily and leave the worrying to the amateurs. Switzerland is probably the favorite to advance, but I am going to take Honduras to surprise some and be the second team to advance. The bad news for the second team out of this group is that they have to face the winner of Group G, and that will be Brazil. By the way, this makes Group G all the more deadly because even if you can advance, then congratulations you get to face Spain in the knockout stages. Chile is not a team I know much about so I will not pretend to. My Predictions: 1. Spain 2. Honduras

In case you didn’t know, the winner of Group A plays the second team out of Group B and so on. My picks are in italics
Mexico v. Greece                       |                            Netherlands v. Slovakia

Argentina v. France               |                           Italy v. Denmark

England v. Serbia |                           Brazil v. Honduras

ermany v. USA                           |                           Spain v. Ivory Coast

I will not bother picking far past there because it is like trying to pick a NCAA Basketball Champion in the preseason. You cannot do it with any accuracy. Regardless, should be some great stuff to come from South Africa this summer. Get hyped.

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