World Cup 2010 Predictions: An Updated Look Before the Opening Round
To Read my original predictions click here.
As soon as the groups were announced, I quickly worked out who I thought would advance out of the group stage and then how the rest of the tournament would play out. That was way back in December of 2009 and things for nearly every team have changed.
There is less than a week before the 2010 World Cup starts and with all the changes over the place it seems a good time to do an updated version of my predictions. Breaking it down by groups I will let you know my original teams advancing and then rest what all has gone on.
After I break down all the changes I will give you who I think will now advance to the round of 16 and beyond. Here are the teams in each group with their FIFA rankings.
South Africa (83)
Originally advancing: France, Mexico
This could be the first World Cup that the host team does not advance to the second round. South Africa could earn this distinction if they fail to reach the round of 16.
There is some hope for the host nation as teams prepare for the start of the World Cup. The Bafana Bafana has won 12 straight games with one win over Denmark a team in the tournament.
More good news for South Africa is that France, who needed a hand ball by their captain Thierry Henry to even advance to the World Cup, has played so poorly. In their final tune up match before the start of the tournament Les Blues lost to China in what was essentially a home game played at Reunion.
The play of Mexico has been up and down over the last couple of months losing to England and the Netherlands before righting the ship against Italy. Until El Tri defeated Italy in Belgium, they had not beaten a team that qualified for the World Cup off of home soil.
Uruguay could be playing the best of this group heading into the World Cup. The Charruas have not lost a match since losing to Argentina in 2009.
If South Africa is going to advance to the second round they will need a decent result against up and down Mexico and poor playing France. The Bafana Bafana could have some special magic if the hero of the nation Nelson Mandela shows up for their matches.
As things go on, I am worried that France will look more like 2002 version after the won the cup in 1998. Les Bleus made the finals in 2006 and a negative result in the year’s tournament looks all but wrapped up.
Mexico needs to use the win over Italy to build some consistency in a group that has the potential to let them advance out of. Only Uruguay looks like a near lock to advance.
Now Advancing: Uruguay, South Africa
South Korea (47)
Originally advancing: Argentina, Greece
Argentina is overwhelming favorite to advance out of this group. The main thing that could derail a long run by La Albiceleste is their coach Diego Maradona.
Argentina is on a role and has not lost since late 2009 to Catalonia. They have beaten one World Cup team Germany as well.
Nigeria is the third highest ranked African team behind of Egypt at 12th who did not make the tournament and Cameroon at 19th who is in Group E. The Super Eagles have won their last five matches even defeating North Korea who is in the world cup.
South Korea wants to advance past the group stage after failing to do so in 2006 in Germany. The Tigers of Asia have not played well in their warm-ups before the World Cup losing last two matches.
Greece is making its first World Cup since the tournament was played in 1994 in the United States. The Greeks were in the same group with Nigeria and Argentina in their only other tournament appearance which saw them lose all three games and give up 10 goals.
Argentina is the favorite in this group but the antics of Maradona could derail this team at some point in this tournament. Greece looks like the other team that will advance in this out of this group but lack of any type of World Cup success is a worry.
The Greeks did win Euro 2004 but most of that team is gone. South Korea will try to capture the magic from the 2002 World Cup.
South Korea is a long shot to advance out of this group. Nigeria is the wild card out of this foursome.
The Super Eagles have had recent World Cup success and could advance with an upset of Greece and beating South Korea like they should. Do not be surprised if Nigeria escapes this group.
Now advancing: Argentina, Greece
United States (14)
A lot has changed for England since this draw took place and the Three Lions looked like the favorites to advance. The British tabloids made a big deal about coach Fabio Capello’s no sex rule but injuries are the big story.
First to go down was set piece specialist David Beckham with a torn Achilles and now team captain Rio Ferdinand will miss the tournament with a injured left knee. The Three Lions look to be beatable but still have John Terry, Frank Lampart, and Wayne Rooney.
England has not lost a match since Brazil beat them back in November of 2009. At first glance the biggest challenger to England in this group looks to be the United States.
Scoring goals could be a problem for the US after the injury to Charlie Davies after a car accident. Further complicating the scoring problem is the injury to Jozy Altidore.
Defense could a problem for the Yanks if Oguchi Onyewu is not completely healthy. The US is on a two game winning streak heading into the World Cup.
This is Algeria’s first World Cup since 1986 and they have only managed one goal and a draw in that tournament. Les Fennecs beat top ranked African team Egypt in a playoff to advance to the World Cup.
Algeria has not lost a game since losing a World Cup qualifying match to Egypt in early November of 2009. They open group play against Slovenia who is playing in their second World Cup.
Slovenia’s first World Cup was in 2002 where the team went 0-3 and gave up seven goals. The Slavs beat Russia in a playoff to advance to the tournament.
Starting out most believed that England and the US would advance from this group. As the injuries begin to pile up the door opens slightly for Algeria and Slovenia.
The wild card of this group has to be Slovenia, who plays solid soccer for one of the smallest nations in the world. They will have to keep playing that way if they hope to seal one of the berths from this group.
Algeria has the talent to pull off an upset if the top three teams in the group do not come to play against Les Fennecs. Still the talent level between the England and the US should be the major factor.
Now Advancing: England, United States
Originally advancing: Germany, Australia
Germany also got hit with a reoccurring theme of this World Cup which is a major injury. This team has lost star Michael Ballack due to an ankle injury.
Ballack was supposed to help mesh a young German team in this World Cup. This team will now have to find away to come together without their super star.
Even without Ballack, Germany will be the favorite to advance out of this group. That could be derailed if this team does not find leadership after losing their star.
Australia biggest victory was moving from the Oceanic Confederation to the Asian Confederation. The difficulty for qualifying for the World Cup, a major obstacle for the Socceroos, was eliminated after the move.
This team went undefeated during qualifying and gave up only one goal on their way to being the first team to clinch their spot in the tournament. In Germany in 2006 the Socceroos made the round of 16 and have the ability of making it once again.
Serbia qualified for the World Cup beating out France in the group during European qualifying. The Beli Orlovi will be making their second straight World Cup appearance after making the 2006 cup in Germany.
This team looks poised to make it to the round of 16 having played five friendly’s in 2010. Of those five matches four were against teams who have qualified for this World Cup. Serbia only lost to New Zealand and played to a draw against Poland who did not make the tournament.
Ghana looks to build upon its round of 16 appearance in 2006 but the draw was not kind to them. The Black Stars were placed in what could be end up being an underrated group in terms of toughness.
In recent friendly’s Ghana is 3-1 but have only beaten one World Cup team Slovenia and lost to another the Netherlands. A second trip to the round of 16 would be great but might be a long shot.
This group looks like a couple of good teams will be left out in the cold since only the top two advance out of each group. Germany has enough talent to advance even without Ballack.
Serbia and Australia will be playing for the second spot but the wildcard in the group will be the Black Stars of Ghana. While they might not have the fire power to advance they could end the dream of either Serbia or Australia.
Now advancing: Germany, Serbia
Originally advancing: Denmark, Cameroon
The Netherlands always look great in the group stage then when the real pressure of elimination games start the Oranje choke. Now add the loss of Arjen Robben to a hamstring injury for at least the group stage makes a deep run even more of a long shot.
This team has the talent to go far but can they find away to break their cycle of coming up short after the group stage. The Netherlands can advance and more than like should advance.
Denmark is making its return to the World Cup after making the 2002 tournament but missing the 2006 tournament. In their three other trips to the World Cup the Danes have made it out of the group stage every time.
The Danish Dynamite defeated Sweden to advance to the World Cup and their coach Morten Olsen is just the second Denmark coach to coach in 100 matches. Olsen is signed up to coach this team until the 2012 European Championships.
Japan is making its fourth straight World Cup appearance but the only time they have advanced past the group stage was when they were co-host in 2002. The Samurai Blue might not make it past the first round in this tough group.
The Japanese have played ten games in 2010 and five were against current World Cup teams. This team lost to all five World Cup teams and won three games but none were against teams in the tournament.
Cameroon has qualified for more World Cups than another African team. This team is returning to the tournament after missing out on the 2006 event in Germany.
Les Lions Indomptables will go as far as their un-injured super star Samuel Eto’o can take them. This team will compete with Denmark and Netherlands for one of the two spots for the second round.
I am going out on a limb here but I just do not believe in the Netherlands. This team always fails to live up to expectations. Also Denmark as of late has owned the Oranje.
Now advancing: Denmark, Cameroon
New Zealand (78)
Originally advancing: Italy, Paraguay
Group F features the 2006 champions Italy. The Italians have aged since that win in Germany but still feature a talented team and if it is to be believed like a fine wine has gotten better with age.
Not even the Azzurri have escaped the injury bug with Andrea Pirlo who will miss at least the first two games of group play. In goal for the Italians will once again be Gianluigi Buffon, who made big saves in the shoot out against France in the World Cup final.
Paraguay is making its fourth straight World Cup appearance. While establishing themselves as one of the top three teams in South America, they have never moved passed the second round.
The Guaraníes has played five games in 2010 and four of those games were against current World Cup teams. Paraguay won two and drew two, with their only loss being to Ireland a non tournament team.
Australia’s move from the Oceanic Confederation not only helped them but New Zealand as well. The All Whites no longer had to fight Australia for a berth into the tournament.
This is New Zealand’s second World Cup appearance; in their first appearance in 1982 they failed to make it out of the group stage. Since March of 2010, New Zealand has played five current World Cup teams, losing to four and only beating Serbia.
This is Slovakia’s first World Cup appearance since gaining independence from Czechoslovakia. The Repre finished ahead of Slovenia to clinch their spot in the tournament.
Slovakia has played three games in 2010 and only one was against a current World Cup team, Cameroon, which ended in a draw. They also lost to Norway and defeated Costa Rica.
Italy is older than their 2006 installment but should have enough talent to advance from this group. Paraguay seems to always get pass the group stage but not past the second round.
New Zealand looks to be a long shot to make it out of this group. Slovakia is the wild card of this group and could find away to advance. Do not be surprised if the Paraguay against Slovakia match ends up deciding who advances.
Now advancing: Italy, Paraguay
North Korea (105)
Ivory Coast (27)
Group G without question is the “Group of Death” with Group H being a close second. Brazil should advance from this group the main question is whether they are first or second.
The Brazilians might could qualify an A squad and a B squad, the country has that much soccer talent. This team has not lost a match since June 15, 2008 against Paraguay and has only played four draws in 26 matches since that loss.
North Korea is odd man out in this group and has a slim to none chance of advancing. This just in, slim has left town, making that no chance of advancing.
Just to show how bad things are for the North Koreans. One of their best goal scorers Kim Myong-Won was faxed as a goal keeper and not an attacker. FIFA has ruled that he must stay at goal keeper after coach Kim Jong-Hun tried to get over on the governing body.
The Ivory Coast was figured to make a deep run in this tournament but that was before the draw. Then Les Éléphants got more bad news after star Didier Drogba broke his arm. He is hoping to be ready for the World Cup but that could be a long shot.
In a tough group without Drogba the Ivory Coast could see a once promising World Cup campaign go down the drain before it even stars. If Drogba does play one does have to wonder how effective he can be.
Portugal looks to be the main contention for Brazil in this group. The Portuguese have nearly as much talent as Brazil.
Since June 6, 2009, Portugal is undefeated in their last 13 matches with two draws. Look for this team to be a major contender in South Africa.
This group is simple, especially since the injury to Drogba; it is a two horse race between Brazil and Portugal. The winner of this group could get to avoid playing Spain if they win Group H.
Now advancing: Brazil, Portugal
If this group had two teams in the top five of the FIFA rankings it would be the “Group of Death” but overall this group could be the toughest in the tournament. All four teams are in the top 40 of the rankings could make it hardest to qualify from.
Spain is most experts’ favorite in this tournament and it is hard to argue against that. The Spanish finally broke through in a major tournament winning Euro 2008.
La Furia has a loaded roster with players like David Villa and getting Fernando Torres back from injury. Spain has not lost a match since being beaten by the United States in the Confederations Cup.
Switzerland is making its second straight World Cup appearance. In Germany, the Swiss reached the second round.
Since qualifying for the World Cup, Switzerland has played four matches and has lost three of them with one draw. Their one draw was against the 2006 champions Italy and two loses were against non tournament teams.
Honduras is making its second appearance in the World Cup and their first since 1982. That team failed to make it into the second round but they were able to stun group member Spain with a 1-1 draw.
Chile is making its first World Cup appearance since 1998 in France. That team made the round of 16 and lost to Brazil, something that could happen in this World Cup if Brazil wins Group F and Chile finishes second in Group H.
During qualifying for this World Cup, La Roja finished second to Brazil and only a point behind them. Chile has not lost since losing to Mexico at Azteca Stadium.
This group looks to be Spain’s to lose with the other three teams playing for second. After their strong qualifying effort Chile might be the most likely to take second place. Still Switzerland and Honduras will have a lot to say about who moves on.
Now advancing: Spain, Chile
In the second round look for Uruguay to go down to Greece and Serbia to fall to England, while Denmark beats Paraguay and Brazil downs Chile.
The second half of the bracket will see Argentina defeat South Africa and Germany to beat the United States along with Italy over Cameroon and the best match of the second round Spain over Portugal.
In the quarterfinals, England gets by Greece and Brazil takes care of Denmark on one side of the bracket. On the other side of the bracket, Argentina outlasts Germany and Italy goes down to Spain.
The semifinals, Brazil will beat England and Spain will find away to get past Argentina. That leaves the finals featuring Brazil against Spain.
Take Brazil in the final to win their sixth World Cup and the first on African soil.
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