6.09.2010

Esto es Africa

In under a week, one of the most prestigious football tournaments will begin in South Africa.  In those few short days, 32 nations will compete for the one prize - the FIFA World Cup trophy.

First, they gotta make it through the group stage.  Who will be the ones to go onto the round of 16?


Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
My winners: France (1) & Mexico (2)

Now I'm not taking anything away from the other two nations.  South Africa has a pretty good chance to come out of this group, and Uruguay I don't know of because I don't have much background on these guys.

Mexico have a pretty good chance to come out of this group, but so do South Africa.  It's a toss-up between the two who will come out, but I'm confident in my choices.  Mexico have a stronger squad this year and with the emergence of more talents, they look ready to contend.  France haven't had the strongest of competitions since the last WC.  I don't know.  I hope they make it out, but I'm not so sure.  Past the front part of their midfield, things start to look rocky to me.

Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic (South Korea), Greece
My winners: Argentina (1) & Korea Republic (2)

Are we going to question my choice in Argentina?  Sure, big names don't make up a winning forumla (look at Portugal for example) but Lionel Messi is arguably one of the best players out there right now.  And really, when your competition is Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece there shouldn't be much doubt of Argentina winning or losing (unless they choke) (no offence to those respective countries).

South Korea (or the more politically correct Korea Republic) has a wonderful chance of getting out of the groups.  Park Ji Sung is their captain and by far one of the best Koreans in the game of this era.  Look at what's he's done with Manchester United!  He may not be the best out there, but he sure as hell puts up more than his end of the bargain.  And Ki Sung Yong of Celtic FC!  Yet another great club with a great Korean.  This is a pretty strong year for the Tigers of Asia.  Greece had that one spell of greatness in the 2004 Euro Cup and Nigeria, as much as I don't want to count them out, I don't think they stand much of a chance really.

Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia
My winners: England (1) & United States (2)

All those against my prediction, please just get up and leave.  England - football's powerhouse for ages.  They were the nation that created and started it all.  They were the ones that produced some of the best footballers for ages and still currently do.  Everyone wants to play there, everyone wants to be there.  England houses the most prestigious footy league - the Premier League.  Now, they have lost some of their greatness from back in the day, but they aren't a team to be swept under the rug just yet.

United States on the other hand is the nation that started calling it "soccer" (which I personally dislike to use).  So what makes this North American country so much better at football than Slovenia or Algeria.  Well, they've got some good talent this year.  After their silver win in the Confederations Cup earlier last year, they have some confidence to boast about.  But they also have some great players playing in some of the best levels in the world.  Tim Howard (amazing run with Everton), Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennais), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers FC), and Jozy Altidore (Villarreal) to name a few.  Shows you "soccer" is getting better over there.

Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
My winners: Germany (1) & Ghana (2)

Even though Die Mannschaft have lost Michael Ballack, it doesn't make them any lesser of a team.  They have Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Philipp Lahm - some of the current best German footballers out there!  Now I hate them as much as the next person, but their brute, aggressive, "attack the net" format will work for them to get out of the groups against Austrlia, Serbia, and Ghana.

Ghana have a good chance to come out of this group cheering.  They're playing on their home continent and have the African people to represent as well as the Ghanaians.  Sure, there are the Aussies and the Serbs, but Ghana has a pretty good chance to come out alive.  In the past couple of years, African football has increased and bettered its profile in the footballing world.  This is just the next step for them.

Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
My winners: Netherlands (1) & Denmark (2)

I love the Dutch in this group. Really, there is no doubt of them coming out of the groups unless they seriously under-perform.  With Arjen Robben had a wonderous season with Internazionale, and Robin van Persie is just a pretty damn good with Dirk Kuyt with secondary scoring, this Oranje group don't look half-bad.

Denmark will come in close behind the Dutch.  The Danes or the Japanese.  The Danish have a strong defensive core, but I'm not so certain about their scoring forwards.  The Japanese on the other hand have a decent scoring and decent defence, but I don't know if their style and level can compete with the Europeans.  And the Cameroonians can come in damn close in second too if they really wanted.

Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
My winners: Italy (1) & Slovakia (2)

This WC, Italy have decided to go for an older, more experienced group.  Last world cup, they competed against the Frenchmen to come to a win.  But this year, will they be able to do the same?  A lot of these names should be familiar to most footy fans.  All of this year's Italians play in their domestic league with some of the best teams in the Serie A (Juve, AC, Roma, Fiorentina).  Nearly all of them have highly reputable profiles and records, so where does all this doubt come from?  I'll tell you: the under performance of some of them with their teams.

Slovakia is my choice to come out second in the group.  New Zealand and Paraguay could, but I have doubts in the level of their performance.  The Slovaks are the best choice out of the three.  And with a defender like Squirttle Skrtle, who needs a goalie when this guy strikes fear in your very bones!

Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR (North Korea), Cote d'Ivoire, Portugal
My winners: Portugal (1) & Cote d'Ivoire (2)

I really don't know what to make of this group.  Brazil left out some very good and essential players, Portugal have years of failure (and all that individual talent just doesn't mix), and Cote d'Ivoire have lost a great striker in Didier Drogba.  North Korea... well that's just them.  This group is really up for grabs and it's anyone's game.

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
My winners: Spain (1) & Chile (2)

Really?  You're gonna question me on Spain?  Let's move on before I get too hot and bothered.

Chile will come out of this group with their hands above their heads.  Suisse: not ready for it.  Honduras: good chance but not good enough.  Chile has the best chance at coming close to the Spaniards.  But either way, I predict a tie in this group.

Now join me in the doing of the Waka Waka!  Because for the past couple of days I've been dancing that around school and I don't want to be the only one.

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