Friday, December 4, 2009

Luck of the Draw

I am deviating from my plan again today. Maybe I should bail on the plan and just blog. Anyways, today the FIFA World Cup draw was announced. 32 National teams will vie for the coveted World Cup trophy starting next June in South Africa. Here are the first round groups:

A:South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

B:Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece

C:England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia

D:Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana

E:Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

F:Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

G:Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal

H:Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Overall it looks like a good draw. But let me comment on each group.

Group A

The host nation always gets in the first group and a guarantee to play in the first game. Unfortunately this year's host doesn't have a very strong team (World wise). This should mean that the other three teams will be battling to get to the second round. That is until you realize that no host nation has EVER failed to advance. If that holds true then this is a "Group of Death". Les Bleus (France for those that don't know) recent string of luck (can you say no call handball Thierry Henry?) continued by being drawn into this group. Any other group and it would be almost certain they would not move on. As it stands they have a chance. Prediction: Mexico and South Africa to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group B

Argentina should advance fairly easily in this group. The tricky part is picking the runner-up. Nigeria has always played well at the WC. South Korea made a great run in 2002. Greece won the European championship not too long ago. Prediction: Argentina and South Korea to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group C

The most intriguing group if you are a US fan. The first group game pits the Brits against the Yanks. It should be a great game. I would give a slight edge to the US because they are familiar with the South African environment. However, this game could go either way, so I'm predicting a draw. The other two teams in the group had to win playoffs to get to the WC. I don't see them as being too tough, but you can't overlook them either. Prediction: US and England to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group D

Germany advances easily in this group. Let's not count out the Aussies and the Ghanians however. Both have shown strength and could put up resistance. Serbia is done before the first whistle. Prediction: Germany and Ghana (sorry Aussies) to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group E

This one could be a toss-up. I think the Netherlands will be too strong for any of the other teams, however this one isn't as easy to call. Of the other teams Japan and Cameroon should be the strongest, yet the Danes played well in qualifying and won their group. Prediction: Netherlands and Cameroon to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group F

This should be a no-brainer for Italy to advance. Paraguay should take second, but it's hard to count out Slovakia. New Zealand might be a spoiler, but I doubt it. Prediction: Italy and Paraguay to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group G

Brazil and Portugal need I say more? OK, I will. It's North Korea's first WC since 1966 when they stunned the Portuguese. Won't happen this time. The Ivory Coast with Drogba could pose problems and will likely get a win and a draw but it won't be enough. Prediction: Brazil and Portugal to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Group H

Spain looks like a shoe-in for this group. Picking a second place team is a toss-up. To me (and I admit I'm biased) I see Chile advancing. The Swiss play well so it could be that they take second. Honduras are tenacious and could produce a surprise 3rd CONCACAF team in the second round, but I doubt it. Prediction: Spain and Chile to advance as Winner and Runner-Up

Groups of Death

I don't think there is a classic "Group of Death" in the tournament. Groups A, E, and H could become such after the first games are played. Historically one can look at groups and determine a Group of Death (meaning a good team will not advance to the second round). This yea the draw seems to have played out so that no group can be automatically classified as such.

Finals Prediction

My final four for this WC are Brazil, Italy, Spain and England. I have Brazil beating Italy and Spain beating England (on penalties of course). Brazil will lose to Spain and the Spaniards will lift the cup at the end of the day. Fernando Torres will be crowned player of the tournament although he will finish second to Kaka for the golden boot.

There you have it. In six months all of this will be wrong and if not can someone please pick me up off the floor?

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