The eight groups in South Africa have finally been set (Sorry Ireland). You can find the draw here Here’s a group-by-group analysis of each group:
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, and France
This group can be considered to be the Group of [mediocrity] death (Everyone knows what the real Group of Death is, and it’ll be covered). France’s luck continues to go their way, and they are still good enough to advance out of this group. I will not automatically hand them this group, but they can surely finagle their way out. Mexico and Uruguay will be a great game that could undoubtedly determine who is going to be the other team advancing with France. However, if you were watching in 2002, then you should know that the host team should never be counted out.
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece
This group is a very difficult group, and it could very well be a trap group for the Argentines. If Argentina plays in the same form that they have been showing then I would suspect that they will be that big name team that fails to get through. Nigeria would love to take another shot at Argentina after the Olympic finals loss, and don’t be surprised if everyone starts shouting ODEMWINGIE! The other team that will give Argentina problems is Greece. Every soccer fan knows that Greece loves to stack a good nine players on defense, and then counter on rare occasions. Greece is looking to win 1-0 if not draw, and that will give Argentina fits. I don’t see South Korea surviving this round, but they could get a point from Greece. Greece and Nigeria advance unless Argentina gets it together, and Maradona is booted out the door.
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, and Slovenia
Uncle Sam’s Army has no excuses to not be in the top 2 of this group. England will be a great test to see how the US team is going to perform in the South African edition of the World Cup. England and the USA are the clear 1 and 2 teams in this group. Algeria will not fare well at all, and I think the USA has enough to take care of business with Slovenia. Here’s hoping to a speedy recovery for Gooch and Davies.
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana
The #2 spot is up for grabs in this year, but I just can’t imagine Germany not advancing out of this group. By no means will it be easy for them, but they are a great TEAM looking to forget about the Euro Cup Finals. The “Socceroos” are hoping that they do not get robbed like they were against Italy the last time around. Serbia is a better team than many people may think, and they may be able to have a say in this group before it is all said and done. However, I see the African champs of Ghana prove that the last time around was no fluke, and they squeak by the other two teams behind Germany.
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
This group will all depend on how much Eto’o and company have left in the tank. The Dutch will come out with another offensive blitzkrieg like they did in the Euros, and I fully expect them to take this group. Japan will be a welcome mat worth three points for whatever team faces them. The Danes match up against Cameroon will go a long way in deciding who takes the 2nd spot in this group. I would recommend both team pouring it on Japan to boost their goal differential in the case that they draw in their tussle.
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Lucky break for the aging defending champs here. Italy will have no problems winning this group, and they could very well do so in nine point fashion. I do not see the “Kiwis” causing any problems in this group. Slovakia and Paraguay will square off for the 2nd spot in this group, and I think the Slovakians will be able to pull out a win here.
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu I give you all the dreaded Group of Death. Kim Jong Irr, keep focusing on your nucrear program because your soccer team has no chance. How great does Kaka vs. Drogba sound? How about Drogba vs. Ronaldo? Still not good enough? That’s cool, because we’re also going to see Kaka vs. Ronaldo in an always intense showdown between Portugal and Brazil. This group is going to be very exciting, and also very difficult. I personally think Brazil will fight it out and earn the one seed. CR9 is may favorite player, but he has never really played the same way for Portugal that he has for his clubs. Portugal is too old and their form is not great right now. Therefore, Drogba gets the Ivory Coast out of the first round and keeps his World Cup hopes alive. I am hoping I am wrong about this, but I am trying to assess this as well as I can. One of these powerful teams will not be making it to the Round of 16, but that’s the way of the draw.
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Loyal readers, we are looking at a new Spain. This version of “La Furia Roja” no longer play as individuals stars. Instead, this Spanish team has finally learned the meaning of the word “team.” I do not expect this team to choke in the early goings this year, and they will be able to advance out of the group stage with ease. The 2nd spot is once again up for grabs between these teams. I have decided that, for kicks, I am going to be the guy that sees Honduras through because if there is a nation that is in dire need of something to believe in…it’s Honduras.
I will go over the round of eliminations in a later post as we get closer and closer to the World Cup.