The South Africa 2010 Draw

After today’s World Cup draw there are many interesting match-ups to look forward to in South Africa this summer. The US has an incredibly favorable draw as does Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Brazil has a difficult draw as does Argentina, Portugal and the Ivory Coast. I will go through each group and break down what I think is going to happen and which 16 teams will advance to the knock out stage of the World Cup which is only 6 short months away. And the answer to the question I have been asked at least 10 times today is, No I am not going to this World Cup. I will be in South Africa in January and twice in 6 months is too many times to do that grueling flight to Johannesburg from the US. So enjoy my thoughts and let me know yours.

Group A-France, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay
This group seems like the likely winners will be France and Mexico. France barely qualified for the World Cup as everyone knows after the ridiculously awful handball seen below by my favorite player and former Arsenal captain, Thierry Henry. This will be the first World Cup in seemingly forever that they won’t have the great Zidane but I think France will recover and get through this group based on their raw talent and certainly their International experience. Let’s not forget they were the runners up in 2006 and easily could’ve won that game. Mexico, led by Rafa Marquez of Barcelona should come through as well and may even win the group. I am not sold on South Africa although they will be inspired as the Bafana Bafana are the hosts but they will come up short as should be expected. Uruguay doesn’t have any marquee players and they barely qualified through a playoff to sneak in and I would be shocked if they did advance.
Group B-Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea
For those who don’t follow soccer closely, this appears to be an easy group for Argentina but that is false. Argentina really struggled in a weak South American qualification this year and they barely squeaked through. Embattled legend and manager Diego Maradona takes the soon to be world player of the year, Lionel Messi, and all world Carlos Tevez into South Africa with high expectations and a lot of pressure from fans that feel they are really underachieving and I agree. Greece was the 2004 European champions and always a formidable opponent and Nigeria and South Korea are both hit or miss from what I have seen from their qualifying. Nigeria is always going to be dangerous but they lack the firepower they’ve had in years past and South Korea maxed out in the 2002 World Cup. I think that Argentina and Greece will get through this tough group.
Group C-Algeria, England, Slovenia, United States
I believe that this is one of, if not the easiest group to predict but of course anything can happen. The US and England should clearly advance from this incredible draw for the US who was in danger of really getting hammered with two tops teams in their group. Slovenia barely qualified in a weak European qualification and Algeria snuck in through a playoff and was the last team to advance to the World Cup from Africa. I fully expect the Colonial enemies of England the US to go through and I may just head over to London to watch that game with all the drunken Brits and watch the US kick their butts!
Group D-Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia
This group is interesting not for the best team as that is clearly Germany but who else will come through. My first thought is that Ghana with Chelsea playmaker Michael Essien will come through in second but Serbia played pretty well and has surprised many and Australia is a team that nobody really knows much about and they have some dynamic players on their team. I look forward to watching this group and for now will predict Germany and the guy with the collest name in the tournament, Schweinsteiger, and Ghana to come through but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see some fireworks out of this group.
Group E-Cameroon, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands
Here is another interesting group. The Netherlands is clearly the top team going through European qualifying undefeated and boasting some great players. Although they have always been underachievers, they will have enough to get through this weaker group. However, the other three teams are no pushovers and seem to me to be very equal in ability. I honestly don’t know much about Japan but they have steadily improved over the past few decades but Denmark has some good players and Cameroon is always tough and has Internazionale striker Samuel E’to on their squad which to me puts them at the top of the three vying for second place. So I am going with Holland and Cameroon.
Group F-Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
In another very weak group, look for holders, Italy, and Paraguay to come through this group virtually unscathed. I would be surprised if either New Zealand or Slovakia wins a game. I was in Prague to watch Slovakia play the Czech Republic and after a very ugly game they won but it wasn’t pretty nor have many of their other games. New Zealand barely even has a football association and the money from the world cup will help their fledgling association but don’t expect much from the Kiwis in South Africa although their local supporters will be going nuts to support them in Springbok-land.
Group G-Brazil, Ivory Coast, North Korea, Portugal
In hands down, the toughest group, 5 times champions Brazil draw the toughest group I can remember. It’s unfortunate to me after recently visiting North Korea that they draw this group and have no realistic shot but you never know, they did beat Italy once and they still talk about it everyday like it was yesterday in Pyongyang! However, Brazil is too talented and experienced with great players like Kaka (below) to not come through. The question is who will join them. In a delicious opening match, Portugal plays Ivory Coast which pits bitter rivals from England, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and formerly of Manchester United (now Real Madrid) versus the black elephants of Ivory Coast and their fearsome hitman, Didier Drogba of Chelsea. Both teams also have some other very good players, especially the Ivory Coast and it will be interesting to see how Ronaldo handles the intense spotlight of the World Cup after a very poor showing last World Cup. I predict that Brazil and Ivory Coast go through from this “group of death” as they are calling it.
Group H-Chile, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland
In a virtual gift to the current European Champions, Spain will easily advance through this dreadful group. The other team is tough to call but I watched a few Swiss matches and they looked pretty good. I fully admit I don’t know much about Chile or Honduras but I imagine the Swiss are disciplined enough to get through and handle the upstarts from Latin America. Spain and Switzerland go through.

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  1. The Americans will not beat the English. I also, do not believe Greece will advance past the group stage nor Switzerland. I think Honduras is a good side and will make it through.

  2. Nigeria can suck it. Why are the teams I want to cheer for in the same group??? Of course I even have a soft spot for DPRK (you know, despite not supporting the whole totalitarian regime thing. . . but somebody’s gotta root for the underdog). But in the end, it’s all gonna be about BRASIL!!!!

  3. I agree with many of your predictions for the group phase but I wouldn’t sleep on Uruguay, Japan, Denmark or Serbia. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them get through. I can’t wait for the World Cup to begin. I am an American living in London and if you do come for the game, I’d love to watch with you.

  4. I agree with Ebell that Brazil will end up winning in the end but I believe this years draw to be relatively unpredictable and some teams we weren’t expecting will get through and do some damage like cameroon or Senegal in the past. I think eventually an African team will really make it far and I hope it’s this year. I think Cote D’Ivoire has the firepower and the desire after their disappointing finish in 2006 to get it done. It should be fun. Unfortunately, there is still 6 months to wait.

  5. Christopher says

    Brasil is overrated just like in 2006. They will most likely make it through because the group of death isn’t really that good. Portugal is walking wounded. I think IC is the best side in that group. It should be interesting but write this down, BRASIL WILL NOT WIN THE WORLD CUP! And for the record, there is no chance the US will beat England either. Capello will have the lads ready to go and no Englishman would be able to sleep if we lost to the Yanks!

  6. Hello Lee, I like you world cup predictions and I tend to agree with most but I will take it a step further. I believe this is the year for Africa. I think that on the African continent the Ivory Coast will hoist the cup. It has been a long time coming and a struggle for respect but they have a great squad and the situation is perfect for them to win for the whole of Africa.

    Obviously their group is difficult but Portugal is weak after Ronaldo and Brasil is not as good as they have been. I agree with you that I feel sorry for North Korea. They have little chance in this group.

    I look for Ivory Coast and Holland to go far with Spain and Mexico right there as well.

    Thank you and enjoy your trip to Africa and have very safe travels. I will be following your adventures from India.

  7. Not bad with the predictions. The largest mistake was clearly Uruguay and saying they have no marquee players because Diego Forlan got the Golden Ball award.

  8. Hey thanks for pointing that out, I forgot I made the prediction sthe day the draw came out…ya not bad in hindsight except for Uruguay. I also did call the final of Spain beating Holland although not on this site…

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