In just under an hour, the 2010 Soccer World Cup will begin in South Africa and the timings for those games here in the US are awesome. Just start the games off early in the morning, they are done by mid-afternoon and that leaves your evenings free. Look through my Group Stage picks and let me know what you agree with, disagree with and put up your own picks.
Who do you have winning it all?
Group A (FIFA Ranking maybe a little dated)
South Africa (90)
There has yet to be a World Cup where the host country failed to reach at least the round of 16 but I think it might be safe to say that there will be a first time this year. South Africa will have a very hard time of advancing out of this group but the Bafana Bafana will have the home crowd support and that can provide for some exciting games (circa ’95 Rugby World Cup and ’96 African Cup).
France ended up getting a very favorable draw after the handball incident against Ireland late last year but their solid defense should overcome any offensive problems they might be having to start the tournament.
The second team to qualify should be the winner of the Uruguay/Mexico game and I think Uruguay, coming off of a win against Costa Rica to qualify for the WC should be able to handle Mexico and advance to the 2nd round.
Korea Republic (47)
I am not sure what to think of the Greek squad but after their 2004 win they were a huge disappointment by missing the 2006 World Cup entirely. The Greeks needed to win a playoff to get into the tournament and have plenty of talent to make a run in South Africa. Argentina is the most interesting team in the tournament. They have the players it to win it all but the antics of their coach could lead to their downfall.
As much as the England/USA game as been hyped up on this side of the Atlantic, I don’t think it is that big of a deal for the British. They fully expect to come into that game and defeat the Americans and I don’t think the game will be close. I have a feeling that the American squad can be distracted by the very first game they play in the tournament and let that get in their way of advancing far in the tournament. Not a lot stands in their way of qualifying from the Group Stages however.
The Germans coming off a third place finish in the 2006 WC will probably be lucky to get that far again this tournament. Ballack once again leads a team of talented players and they should advance easily but will not reach the Finals once again. The Aussies had a good run last time around as well and should provide to be a tough opponent for whoever they face.
A lot of people seem to be down on the Dutch and giving them a tough pass in this group. As tough as the other three may be, it should be THAT difficult for Netherlands to advance. As for the second team, I am ready to take any of the three. This should be the most closely decided group of games of the Opening Round and I see Denmark advancing.
New Zealand (78)
Italy probably got the most favorable draw possible for a rather weak and old team entering this World Cup. They should have no troubles advancing I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the second team to qualify from this group ends up advancing further than the Italians.
North Korea (106)
Ivory Coast (27)
No surprises here with Brazil and Portugal but it would have been rather awesome to see the Ivory Coast compete with a healthy Drogba. Either way, the game between the #1 and #3 rank to decide the top seed in the group should provide plenty of early excitement.
It’s quite the awful draw for North Korea in Group G as they have absolutely no shot of winning any games here and should easily be handled in all three games. Tough schedule for a team making it into the tournament for the first time since 1966.
I don’t pick too many upsets coming out of the group stage and I had the Swiss bypassing Chile but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. They have a rather energetic and young lineup that has the potential to make a run if they get into the second round.