2010 FIFA World Cup: The Contenders vs. the Pretenders
The entire world waits in anticipation as June 11th, the curtain raiser for the FIFA World Cup 2010 to be held in South Africa draws closer and closer.
The excitement is quite unbelievable, one can only dream of how the atmosphere would be like when the tournament actually gets underway.
I've decided to look at a few of the so called "contenders," who are being tipped to take the showpiece home, its up to you to tell me, whether they are serious contenders or merely pretenders.
Brazil, who last won the World Cup in 2002, are being managed by Dunga, who has his fair share of critics and not surprisingly so.
Dunga has chosen to leave out former FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho, despite the latter discovering his best form in the latter stages of the season with AC Milan.
Critics believe Dunga's personal battles have meant the best possible squad has been comprised on, not surprisingly, the aging Ronaldo and Adriano won't be in South Africa but even Alexandre Pato has missed out!
Thats right folks, Pato, one of the most talented strikers on the planet, who plays alongside Ronaldinho at AC Milan has been scrapped from the squad, the likes of Roma's Julio Baptista and Wolfsburg's Grafite have been preferred over them.
Brazil's challenge will be led by Real Madrid's Kaka and Manchester City's Robinho, who joined Santos on loan for the second half of the season to confirm his place in Dunga's squad.
You'd be advised to keep an eye of Luis Fabiano and Maicon.
They might not have their strongest squad but Brazil remain serious contenders.
Brazil are grouped with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea in the group of death.
Spain, the European Champions are everybody's favourites for the WC 2010.
Injuries to the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Marcos Senna and Fernando Torres might dent their progress but the Spaniards have enough quality in the likes of David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos to surprise any opposition.
Del Bosque has alot of experience and has had enough time to experiment with all his options to find his best possible combination.
Don't take these guys for granted. Keep an eye on Xavi, David Silva and Fernando Torres, the trio might just be Spain's key to the final.
Grouped with Switzerland, Honduras and Chile, Spain should coast into the second round.
Watch out, serious contenders here!
Fabio Capello has also made a couple of surprising decisions, the inclusion of Jaime Carragher is surprising consider the fact that John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Matthew Upson, Joleon Lescott and perhaps even Ledley King are all likely to be on the plane to South Africa.
Glen Johnson is the only right back in Capello's provisional squad.
England usually disappoint at events such as this but if the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are on fire, this might be their year, highly unlikely though. I'd think England are merely pretenders.
They are grouped with Algeria, USA and Slovenia.
Diego Maradona left out the likes Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso from his provisional squad which is shocking considering the fact that the aging duo have been absolutely fantastic for Inter Milan this season.
All eyes will be on FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who is widely considered alongside Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world.
Maradona will put his faith in his son-in-law, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Diego Milito, Martin Palermo and Messi to bag the goals because to say that the Argentine defense looks shaky would be an understatement. Lets not forget that Maradona's men almost didn't make it to South Africa.
As in England's case, merely pretenders.
Portugal's World Cup challenge will largely depend on Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, the most expensive player in the world.
The presence of Chelsea's Ricardo Carvalho and Porto's Bruno Alves brings some stability to their defense but Carlos Queiroz would know that they need to overcome the likes of Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea.
Besides Ronaldo, Chelsea's Deco and Manchester United's Nani, who appears to have finally come of age, could have an impact on Portugal's progress at South Africa.
However, Portugal remain merely pretenders.
Italy are the reigning World Champions having won the tournament last time out in Germany.
Marcello Lippi like Dunga and Maradona has surprised many by dropping veteran strikers, Francesco Totti, Luca Toni and Alessandro Del Piero.
Despite that, the Azzuri, who are grouped alongside minnows, New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia are serious contenders, once again.
Keep an eye on AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo besides Antonio Di Natale.
The French only made it to South Africa because of a controversial handball by Thierry Henry against the Irish but that is a thing of the past.
Raymond Domenech stunned the footballing world by leaving out the misfiring but incredibly talented, Karim Benzema and Arsenal's Samir Nasri even veteran midfielder, Patrick Viera couldn't find a place in Les Blues' squad.
France would be praying for a speedy recovery for injured defender, William Gallas.
Bayern's Frank Ribery and Chelsea's Florent Malouda hold the key for France but their chances will be boosted if Thierry Henry rediscovers his goalscoring form.
Grouped alongside hosts, South Africa, Mexico and Uruguay. Domenech's men, for me are merely pretenders.
Keep an eye on the Netherlands too and South Korea if you want Asia to lift the trophy, similarly Cameroon and Ivory Coast appear to have the best chance of keeping the gold in the continent.
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