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World Cup Preview: What to Expect in the Group Stages

With a little over a month until we kick off the 2010 World Cup, it is time to take a look at what we can expect to happen during the month long tournament that will be highlighted by a final game between the two best teams in the world on July 11th in Johannesburg.

Group A

South Africa (90)

Mexico (17)

Uruguay (18)

France (10)

Unfortunately for the host nation, most of the glory of the tournament will be showing off their stadiums and their country to the world. This grouping will be a three team competition between France, Mexico, and Uruguay. By the time the tournament starts, France will be back on top of their form and over the Thierry Henry handball incident that snuck them into the tournament and they will win the group. The second team to advance will come down to Mexico vs. Uruguay. Whoever is able to win this game, will be the other team to advance out of Group A.

Prediction: France and Mexico advance

Group B

Argentina (7)

Nigeria (20)

South Korea (47)

Greece (12)

Argentina comes into the tournament with one of the best combinations of strikers in the tournament with Messi and Tevez. Greece has struggled in international play ever since their 2004 Euro championship, but this looks to be the best team they have had since then. South Korea is far better than their 47th world ranking leads you to believe, but will struggle against some of the top teams in the world compared to their performances against other Asian countries. Nigeria will be Greece’s biggest challenge in advancing to the elimination rounds.

Prediction: Argentina and Greece advance

Group C

England (8)

United States (14)

Algeria (31)

Slovenia (23)

If England hopes to advance as far in the World Cup as many experts are predicting they should, they better hope Wayne Rooney comes back from his ankle injury.  They also better hope Rooney does not need a game to shake off the cob webs as they open the tournament against the United States, England’s biggest threat in the grouping. The Americans come into the tournament looking better then ever and the people of the United States are more excited about this years World Cup than any World Cup then I can recall in my lifetime. Expect the Americans to not only advance to the round of 16, but to do so by beating England and winning the group.

Prediction: United States and England advance

Group D

Germany (6)

Australia (20)

Serbia (16)

Ghana (32)

Germany comes into this years World Cup looking as good as any team out there and has hopes of improving on their third place finish in 2006 and winning the tournament. Their first tests will come in the group round as they face Serbia and Australia, two teams who are not viewed as teams that will go deep into the tournament, but have a history of giving great teams trouble. Look for Australia to also surprise Serbia and win second place in the grouping.

Prediction: Germany and Australia advance

Group E

Netherlands (4)

Denmark (35)

Japan (45)

Cameroon (19)

Watch out for the Dutch team in this years tournament. I expect them to exceed expectations and possibly make an appearance in the championship game. The team that will give them trouble in this group round is Denmark, who has beaten the Netherlands five out of the last six times they have played each other. Cameroon barely qualified for the tournament, but with a striker who has the abilities of Samuel Eto’o, any result is possible.

Prediction: Netherlands and Denmark advance

Group F

Italy (5)

Paraguay (30)

New Zealand (78)

Slovakia (38)

Italy will have the easiest road to the round of sixteen of any of the countries in the tournament, as their toughest competition will be a Paraguayan team.  Paraguay finished third in qualifying in the South American region.  With New Zealand and Slovakia being content on simply making it to the World Cup, you can expect them, along with the defending champion, Italy, to make it out of the group stage.

Prediction: Italy and Paraguay advance

Group G

Brazil (1)

Ivory Coast (27)

North Korea (84)

Portugal (3)

Most people view Group G as the “Group of Death” in this years tournament, and for the Ivory Coast and North Korea, it is. Unfortunately, those two teams do not have any shot in advancing over top ranked Brazil team and a Portuguese team led by Christiano Ronaldo and Co. The match up between Brazil and Portugal will undoubtedly be the best match in the group stage and could possibly be a preview of the championship game.

Prediction: Brazil and Portugal advance.

Group H

Spain (2)

Switzerland (40)

Honduras (38)

Chile (15)

Spain comes into the tournament as one of the biggest threats to win the whole thing and, if it were not for a loss to the United States in the Confederations Cup, they would be entering the tournament as the top ranked team in the world. Chile, Honduras, and Switzerland all have a realistic shot at of placing second in the group. The team that advances will likely be whoever is able to beat or play Spain to a draw. If any of these teams are able to do that, they will likely only need to beat one of the other two opponents to secure second place in the group.

Prediction: Spain and Chile advance

Have an idea of who you think will advance out of the group stages?

Post your predictions in the comment section.

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Categories: Soccer, Sports

Man U wins again

The great Manchester United tied Arsenal 0-0 today to win the English Premier League Trophy again.  With it being the 18th time they have won the trophy i think it is safe to say that they could be classified as the Yankees of soccer, or the Cowboys of futbol.  Ever since i bought FiFa 2008 I have been following English Soccer, and Soccer around the world for that matter, and I sure am glad Man U has been my team because they win everything.

They have a no need game against Hull City on the 24th that will likely see very little, if any, of Ronaldo, Rooney, and the rest of the big time starters as they prepare for the next biggest game of their lives:

that of course being the Champions League title game against Barcelona on the 27th.  Manchester hopes to trump the attempts of Xavi, Eto’o, Henry and Iniesta and repeat as Champions.

Categories: Soccer, Sports