7:30 AM- Slovakia vs. New Zealand
New Zealand, like a few of the other countries in the competition like North Korea, are not expected to do much. Even a goal would be a great achievement for the Kiwis. and this game is certainly a chance for them to get that goal. However, anything less than a defeat would be a shocker for the “All Whites” of New Zealand. Slovakia is not wildly talented, but they are a quality side that is more than capable of dispatching New Zealand. Marek Hamsik is the man to watch for the Slovaks who are in their first World Cup as an independent nation.
Slovakia 2-0 New Zealand
10:00 AM- Ivory Coast vs. Portugal
This is the match of the day. A victory for either side should guarantee them a spot in the second round, and with so much on the line, you can expect to see both teams going all out in their opening match. Portugal boasts the creative power of Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Simao (Atl. Madrid), Deco (Chelsea) and Tiago (Atl. Madrid), but have really struggled to find the back of the net. They will need big performances out of Hugo Almeda and Liedson if they are to make any noise in this tournament.
The Ivory Coast, on the other hand, has no such problems scoring goals. Didier Drogba should be fit for the match, and when paired with Salomon Kalou or Aruna Dindane, the Ivory Coast has a formidable strikeforce, mostly thanks to Drogba rather than Kalou. However, the biggest reason they are so good is because Drogba is usually unguardable and the other play off him. If he cannot get free, the Ivorians do not have the same killer instinct and an be in trouble. However, they also have solid defenders and midfielders in Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal), Kolo Toure (Manchester City), Yaya Toure (Barcelona) and Abdul Kader Keita (Galatasaray) give the Ivory Coast a squad unusually strong on star power for an African nation.
I do not expect Drogba’s broken arm to be an issue for him, but I think that if Portugal can neutralize him, the rest of the players will struggle to play up the quality they are accustomed to. I could see this game going either way, making a pick completely impossible to make with any confidence. I am going to take Portugal to win on a penalty kick.
Portugal 1-0 Ivory Coast
2:30 PM- Brazil vs North Korea
You know how difficult that last pick was? That is how easy this pick is. Brazil has all the stars, all the results, and all the ability to squash North Korea. Even a goal for North Korea would be an upset unless it was a meaningless one at 6-1 or something. Brazil will romp.
Brazil 4-0 North Korea