World Cup Group Stages: Predictions by Sarky (Part 1)
Guest written by regular reader Sarky – Part 1
I was sitting at home with a toothache resulting from a root canal procedure. And yes, it pains so much that I can’t even sleep. So thought of making bold predictions for the FIFA World Cup 2010. Well, usually my brain says something, and my heart says something else (Though I have been accused at various points in my life of not having either a brain or a heart). But in this case, both my brain and heart have agreed for the most part. I still went ahead and picked up both the choices- Teams I would like to see in the second round (yes, I can hear the phrase- ‘misplaced optimism’ being repeated) and teams I think are likely to be in the next round.
In this first series, I would like to only predict the outcome of the Group phase. We’ll discuss about the next rounds onwards after all the qualifiers for the Round of 16 are identified.
- Please do not place your bets based on my predictions. However, if you place your bets based on my predictions and win some decent amount of money or a holiday somewhere (except the local prison), you are free to contribute to my well being. But I will not be responsible for any losses due to my crazy predictions.
- No disrespect meant to any of the countries playing in the World Cup. I appreciate that each team has earned the right to play at this Event, and all of them are surely better than my home country. (:tears: )
- Feel free to disagree. I know that there have been fans watching their favorite teams since qualifiers started and am sure, no one will agree with me 100%.
To Start off- My heart wants Argentina to win, has always wanted Argentina to win, ever since I first saw a World Cup match in 1986. And I dragged my parents to my neighbor’s home at an unearthly hour to watch the final. (I was 5 then). Despite me having my doubts about El Diego’s sanity, I sincerely hope he makes me look like a fool by leading the Albicelestes to be World Champions. But my brain says- Spain (though I feel England have the easiest route to the Semifinals). See how confused I am? Well, let’s get it underway.
Teams- France, Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa
Though this Group does not have the best teams at this year’s World Cup, it does not make the group any easier for the teams in it. Mexico, under their new coach, Javier Aguirre, have turned around their fortunes and we have seen in the friendlies over the last few days that this team has the players to ensure they qualify for the Round of 16. But whether they will play as well as they can, will depend on the team staying together despite the unnecessary press surrounding the exclusion of Jonathan Dos Santos. France just scraped through their qualifying against the Republic of Ireland (I needn’t say more about Henry’s hand, I guess) and I expect them to just scrape through this round too. Uruguay have some talented players (Suarez, Forlan, Lugano), but qualified as one of the last teams for the World Cup through the play offs. As for South Africa, getting a point off one of their group rivals would in itself be an achievement.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Mexico, France
Sarky’s Heart says- Mexico, Uruguay
Teams- Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece
Everyone expects Argentina to qualify from this group. With the rich range of talent they have coming to the World Cup, they surely deserve to go through. I agree with the people who are apprehensive of how Diego Maradona will organize his team tactically, but then, if he is able to get the team to respond to his requirements, we may have to sit back and watch while El Diego enriches his already rich legacy. Regarding the other teams in the Group, Nigeria have a strong team, but Korea Republic (led by Manchester United’s Park Ji Sung) and Otto Rehhagel’s Greece will be no pushovers. Just the fact that Nigeria are playing in their own Continent and that Korea are poor travelers would suggest that Nigeria will go through. However, this is Football, and anything can happen on their given day. The Nigeria- Korea Republic clash would be one of contrasting styles and skills. Greece and their coach (who is the oldest coach in WC 2010) would be hoping for a repeat of their 2004 Euro run, and maybe one victory would be all it takes to qualify from this group.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Argentina, Nigeria
Sarky’s Heart says- Argentina, Korea Republic
Teams- England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
There are no Penalty Shootouts in the Group Stages. So England should go through to the next round. Not that Capello will be looking at his Group matches being draws. Seriously, with the talent that the England squad possesses, and under the guidance of a master tactician, England should progress through the Group stages without too many problems. Team USA had an impressive run in the Confederations Cup last year and the Semifinals against Spain and the Finals against Brazil show that this team cannot be taken lightly. Algeria made it past Egypt to qualify for this year’s edition of the World Cup, but despite their poor away record in the qualifying stages, will be hoping to cause an upset. Slovenia surprised a lot of people by eliminating Euro 2008 semifinalists Russia in their play offs. If they show the same fighting spirit again in their match against the USA and Algeria, they may well be on their way to the Round of 16.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- England, USA
Sarky’s Heart says- England, USA