World Cup Group Stages: Predictions by Sarky (Part 2)
Guest written by regular reader Sarky – Part 2
Here I am with Part II of the Group Stage predictions. In this part, we cover all the remaining groups- from Group D to Group H. There has been news coming in the past couple of days- Rio is injured, and will not be a part of the World Cup, contrasting news on Drogba’s injury, looks like Pirlo may be out too and of course the friendly results, specifically, France losing 1-0 to China.
I will still stick to my prediction of England qualifying from the Group. But for sure, they will miss Rio’s experience at the back.
Teams- Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
Germany will surely miss the services of their influential captain- Michael Ballack. But I still do not see them bowing out in the first round. Quality players, along with sound tactical approach and typical German industry & organization should be able to see Germany through the next round in this very competitive Group. Serbia, with Vidic, Jovanovic and Stankovic among the recognized names, surely fancy their chances of qualifying from this group. The ‘Black Stars’ from Ghana are in with a good chance too. Their midfield engine, boasting the likes of Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah will be their driving force, but they will surely miss the services of Michael Essien. The fourth team in this group- Australia, will not be taken lightly by the others. A team including players like Mark Schwarzer in goal, Brett Emerton, Tim Cahill, Lucas Neil and of course, Harry Kewell, certainly has the ability to spring a surprise.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Germany, Serbia
Sarky’s Heart says- Germany, Ghana
Teams- Netherlands, Denmark, Cameroon, Japan
With the quality of players they have in their team, the Netherlands should go through to the Round of 16 from this group. Their players have been impressive for their clubs this season, and if they are able to replicate that form on the international stage, qualification would not be a problem. Among the other teams, Denmark had an impressive run in their road to the World Cup by qualifying top of a group which included Portugal & Sweden. If they continue with their impressive run, it would be difficult to deny them a place in the second round. Cameroon had a slow start to the qualifiers, but their fortunes were turned around by the arrival of Frenchman Paul Le Guen as their coach and Samuel Eto being made Captain of the team. The Indomitable Lions are the top ranked African Nation going into the World Cup and have an experienced squad. Japan have a squad low on confidence after 4 consecutive defeats in the last four friendlies. But with quality players like Nakamura in the squad, maybe a freekick goal from his left foot is all it will take to spark up Japan’s tournament. And yes, they need to stop scoring those own goals.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Netherlands, Denmark
Sarky’s Heart says- Netherlands, Cameroon
Teams- Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
The World Champions look favorites to qualify as Group toppers from Group F. Though the Italian teams are known to be poor starters, the opposition in this group should not worry them too much. They have an experienced squad who will be no strangers in handling the pressure one associates with a World Cup. Paraguay have qualified for the World Cup by posting their highest ever points tally in the qualification matches, and finishing ahead of Argentina & Uruguay. The Paraguayans are certainly hoping that Roque Santa Cruz will be able to perform to his full potential after the frustrating season he has endured. Slovakia, first time qualifiers to the World Cup are a well organized team and qualified as top of their Group. They have wins over Czech Republic, Northern Ireland and the USA over the last year, but I feel their performance in this World Cup will depend on their match with Paraguay. As for New Zealand, no one gives them too much hope of progressing from this Group. Maybe the best they could do would be to upset a bigger team and then hope the permutations & combinations work in their favor. Did you say- Unlikely? That’s what I think too.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Italy, Paraguay
Sarky’s Heart says- Italy, Paraguay
Teams- Brazil, Korea DPR, Côte d’Ivoire, Portugal
Will the Brazillians lift another World Cup? They way they are going about their task, they certainly seem favourites to be World Champions once again. Dunga has his team going in the direction he wants. I felt that the inclusion of Ronaldinho would have given an extra dimension to the team. But Dunga clearly knows what he wants and how he wants to go about it and the results over the last year seem to justify his game plan. The second favorites from the Group are Portugal. With players of the caliber of Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Nani, Ricardo Carvallho and Pepe in their ranks, fans expect Portugal to go through this difficult group. They sure have a talented team, but how those talents combine to push the team forward remains to be seen. Ivory Coast, the other main contenders in this Group always seem to be drawn into the toughest Groups. In the last World Cup, they had Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro in their Group. One of the most talented African teams, Sven -Goran Eriksson’s boys consisting of familiar faces like Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Didier Zakora, Eboue, Yaya Toure & Kolo Toure, will have their work cut out to achieve qualification from this Group. Uncertainty over Drogba’s injury does not help their chances either. Korea DPR were the surprise package in the Asian qualifying phase. The team consists of mostly domestic based talent and their strengths are teamwork & discipline. But a fairy tale run like that in 1966 (where they reached the last 8, before being stopped by Eusebio’s magic) seems highly improbable, seeing the quality of other teams in this group.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Brazil, Portugal
Sarky’s Heart says- Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire
Teams- Spain, Switzerland, Hoduras, Chile
Spain are one of the favourites to become the next World Champions and their flawless qualifying run certainly did nothing to diminish the credentials of the Euro 2008 Champions. This team has depth and talent in abundance and if they stay true to form, there is no reason why they cannot go all the way. In fact, the only game that Spain has lost in the last 2 years is the semifinal reverse against the USA in the Confederations Cup last year. Switzerland, coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, are the only non- Hispanic team in this Group. They qualified top from a group comprising Greece & Israel (after an earlier home loss against Luxembourg), but their performance in the friendlies against Norway, Uruguay & Costa Rica have not done much to inspire confidence amongst neutrals. Honduras have qualified for this World Cup after a gap of 28 years. Despite a victory over the USA in January, recent friendlies have resulted in defeats for the Honduras against Turkey & Venezuela and draws against Belarus & Azerbaijan. Chile qualified second to Brazil in the South American Qualifiers and under the guidance of Marcelo Bielsa, have been impressive in their friendlies. Their record of 4 wins and one loss in May 2010 shows the meticulous planning & preparations by their coach. Admittedly, they were not against top class opposition, but then, they have faced top class teams in their qualifying phase and come out with flying colours.
Sarky’s Qualifiers- Spain, Chile
Sarky’s Heart says- Spain, Chile
So those were my predictions for the World Cup 2010. Hope you guys enjoyed reading through the 2 part series. I know many of you would disagree with my predictions, and I’d love to hear your predictions and the feedback to these articles.