2010 World Cup Group Stage Predictions - Who Will Make The World's Sweet 16?
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 5/20/2010
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It’s time to make some World Cup group stage predictions with the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa just three weeks away. Be sure to check Doc’s Sports homepage each day leading up to the World Cup as we will be previewing many of the games in the tournament (with free betting picks, as well) and we will cover the tournament from every possible angle. Without further ado, here are some World Cup group stage predictions:
While the hosts will have home-field advantage at every turn in the World Cup, there was no such advantage during the World Cup draw. South Africa has been placed in a tricky group with France, the prohibitive favorite at even money to win the group, and Mexico and Uruguay, two squads capable of stringing wins together. Goals will be hard to come by for the hosts in this group.
France has had some underwhelming group stage performances in the past but this group is theirs to lose. The Mexico/Uruguay showdown has conveniently been scheduled for the last day of Group A play. That very well could be a play-in game for the round of 16. With World Cup futures odds as high as 125/1 and a starting 11 that can rival any produced by another South American nation, Uruguay looks like a potential long-shot dark horse.
All the talk of Group B centers on the two-time World Cup winners Argentina, their premier striker in Lionel Messi and their legendary player-turned-coach Diego Maradona. Argentina is the clear favorite in this group at -200 and one of the favorites to win the World Cup with the third-best odds at 6/1.
Their talent is unmatched in this group but that talent was inconsistent at best during qualifying. If Argentina takes a day off a team like Nigeria could cause them problems. It’s hard to imagine Argentina and Nigeria not being the teams to advance beyond the group, but it is likely that one will leave day one of group play behind the eight ball as the Group B favorites meet on June 12.
If one of the favorites do slip up, South Korea and Greece are capable squads with a history of recent success. South Korea reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and Greece won the 2004 EuroCup.
This group will cut right to the chase with a World Cup blockbuster between England and the United States meeting June 12 in the group opener. The winner of that game will just about have ensured their spot in the Round of 16.
Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard of England are the big names in this group but the USA hopes Landon Donovan and Tim Howard will have just as much of an impact on the group. England may have had the best qualifying stage of any country having breezed through the European Zone winning all but one of its 10 matches. At -275 to win this group, England is the second largest group stage favorite behind only Spain.
It’s easy to see who the would-be party crashers are in this group. Algeria and Slovenia have been to a combined five World Cups. England is making its 13th World Cup appearance. Both underdogs are more notable for who they eliminated to get here with Algeria knocking out Egypt and Slovenia winning a playoff over Russia.
This group has to be thankful Italy is not the fourth team instead of Serbia. On their way to World Cup glory in 2006 the Italians defeated Ghana, 2-0, in the group stage, eliminated Australia, 1-0, in the Round of 16 and got past the Germans, 2-0, in double overtime in the semifinals.
Despite the losses to Italy all three countries had above average showings in the last World Cup. For Serbia this will be its first World Cup as its own country having previously competed as Serbia & Montenegro in 2006.
Group G has the official title of the World Cup Group of Death but you will not hear many arguments if you label Group D similarly. With the Michael Ballack injury looming over Germany this group may no longer have teams looked upon as semifinal favorites but top to bottom it’s balanced.
Even without Ballack Germany is still the favorite at -135 to win the group. They dominated in qualifying and had the look of a champion in 2006 before the loss to Italy. The battle for second is extremely tight with most giving Ghana and its star Michael Essien a slight edge although Australia showed what it was capable of in 2006 and Serbia owns wins over France and Romania in qualifying. Oddsmakers heaped plenty of respect onto Ghana and Serbia, as they are both set at 66/1 to win the World Cup, odds that place them in the top 15 of World Cup teams.
Netherlands went through a flawless qualifying stage, winning eight of eight in Group 9 of the European Zone. The Dutch draw an interesting group that should present a slight challenge but nothing that should prevent FIFA’s No. 4 ranked team from winning this group where they are -160 favorites.
The challenges will come from another African power in Cameroon, who has perhaps the best scorer in the group with Samuel Eto’o, Denmark, a first place finisher in a qualifying section that featured Portugal and Sweden, and Japan, winners of two AFC Asian Cups this decade.
Of the three, Cameroon should provide the stiffest of competition to the Netherlands. History shows that Cameroon is the most successful African country on the World Cup stage and the whole continent may as well be watching when the two countries meet on the June 24, the final day of Group E play.
The Italians got a break befitting of World Cup champion with their draw in Group F. One of the easier groups in the field, Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia likely would not get through in any other group, but in Group F one of them has to.
The Azzurri are -200 favorites to win this group, but with what people are calling an aging squad, some wonder what Italy’s odds would be in a tougher group. At 14/1 to win the World Cup, five teams have better odds than the defending World Cup champions.
If anyone is going to threaten them in this group it may be Paraguay, a mirror image of the Italians just with less talent. They play defense first and goals will be extremely hard to come by when the two Group F favorites meet.
Slovakia, playing in its first World Cup since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, could sneak in the Round of 16. They are playing with nothing to lose after already being celebrated countrywide after qualifying ahead of Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland and Northern Island.
New Zealand will be hard pressed to find a goal in this World Cup. They are only here because someone from the Oceania qualifying group had to make it and it was either New Zealand or Bahrain. At 2000/1 to win the World Cup they have the worst odds along with North Korea.
A heavy emphasis on these games has been placed on South Africa, but if any African nation should be considered a threat it is the Ivory Coast. Unfortunately for the Ivory Coast it has been cast in the World Cup Group of Death with powers Brazil and Portugal. That being said, this is the ‘group of death’ because of the presence of the Ivory Coast. It would hardly be a major upset if they were to get through to the Round of 16. And if they do: look out, they will have the backing of the home country and with odds at 33/1 they look like a legitimate dark horse with plenty of value.
North Korea, officially listed as Korea DPR, will enter the World Cup just trying to keep the games close with a defensive-first approach.
Brazil has had luck in South Africa as recently as the 2009 Confederations Cup, where it rallied back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the United States, 3-2, in the title game. The household names we are used to of Ronaldihno, Ronaldo and Adriano have been left off this year’s roster but there is still enough talent for Brazil to be a 4/1 favorite to win the World Cup. Only Spain has better odds.
Portugal needed a play-off win against Bosnia-Herzegovina just to reach the World Cup, but they are still a feared team. Cristiano Ronaldo will be healthy for this tournament unlike in the qualifying rounds when he battled injuries and failed to score.
The group is loaded with talent and big-name superstars like Brazil’s Kaka, Ronaldo from Portugal and perhaps the best player in the world right now, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. When looking for potential World Cup champions, the Group of Death is a good place to start.
Spain should have the easiest time qualifying out all the countries, but not because of its superior talent, but rather because of the group that brings some lesser challengers at them such as Honduras and Switzerland.
Spain has it all. Its defense would be the strength of most teams but here it is overlooked because of the dominating midfield and a striking duo unmatched in these games. It also has a history of choking in the World Cup group stage, but for 2010 nine points should be attainable.
The Spaniards would be wise not to sleep on Chile. In South American qualifying Chile finished behind only Brazil and it has plenty of depth for an extended tournament run. The team is short on World Cup experience - as in it has no World Cup experience as the Chileans have missed out on the last two World Cups and there are no holdovers from 1998. The Swiss play strong defense, but putting the ball in the net will be a task for this group while forcing a tie should be considered an accomplishment for an undermanned Honduras squad.
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