Most Overrated Teams in the World Cup
by Trevor Whenham - 5/27/2010
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It's very hard for anyone to get a good grasp on all of the teams in the World Cup, and especially hard for the general betting public who doesn't follow soccer a lot to do so. That means that a lot of betting decisions are based more on reputations and past accomplishments than they are on the team that will be hitting the field in the tournament. Here are three teams that seem to me to be overrated. The first two are teams I just really struggle to like in this tournament, while the third is one I really like but can't back. (Odds are from Bodog)
Germany (16/1) - The Germans have made a habit of rising to the occasion in big tournaments in recent years, but I don't have a whole lot of faith that they can do the same here. The biggest concern I have with them is their leadership - or lack of it.
They finished third in the last World Cup on the backs of two veteran leaders - striker Michael Ballack and former star striker and German legend Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach of the team. Neither of those guys will be there to carry the load this time around. Klinsmann stepped down as coach in 2008, and Ballack will miss the World Cup with an ankle injury.
That's not to suggest that the team is hopeless without them, but they won't have the character and fiery force of the past teams - this is a kinder, gentler squad, and that's not a good thing. They'll need to have a few players really step up if they want to go far - Bastian Schweinsteiger will have to be the leader that Ballack can't be, and Miroslav Klose, the surprise winner of the Golden Boot in 2006, will have to be just as good this time around even though he was lousy with Bayern this year.
They have a reasonably fortunate draw as long as they can avoid England in the first elimination game, but they don't have a deep run in them in my eyes.
France (16/1) - I would have a hard time believing in this French team at 160/1. They are coming off a second-place finish last time and a win in 1998, but they are a long way form the team that pulled off those feats. They barely limped into the tournament after a terrible qualifying run, and they needed to cheat to earn the final spot in Europe.
Raymond Domenech, the coach, is an increasingly eccentric loose cannon that likes to consult the astrological signs before naming his roster. His relationship with his team right now certainly isn't all it could be.
Their most important player, playmaker Franck Ribery, doesn't seem ideally suited to the role vacated by Zinedine Zidane, and is distracted by an underage prostitution case.
Scoring is a question mark as well - Thierry Henry is not a young man, and Nicolas Anelka has yet to score in the World Cup. They have one thing on their side - Group A is as weak a group as there is. They could also face a reasonably easy second round pairing if they and Argentina both win their groups. A few wins are at least theoretically possible, but I think it is far more likely that the squad will self-destruct.
Ivory Coast (33/1) - I want to like the Ivory Coast. In fact, I want to really, really like them. It would be such a great story - an African team goes deep in the first, long overdue African World Cup.
They have one of the most exciting players in the world in Didier Drogba, and one of the better backfields in the tournament as well. There's a lot to like here.
Unfortunately, there's a lot to have concerns about, too. Most obvious, they have an absolutely horrifying schedule in the World Cup Group of Death. They begin the tournament with games against Portugal and Brazil. A win in one of those two games and a win over North Korea, which is likely, would likely get them into the second round, but it will be hard for them to beat Brazil and finish first. If they finish second in the group then they would likely have the dubious honor of playing Spain in the first elimination game. It's incredibly difficult for any team to even dream of beating Brazil and Spain - the two favorites - in the same tournament, so Ivory Coast is obviously in tough.
There's another issue as well, and this one is even scarier. Drogba has dealt with hernia issues in the past, and they are flaring up again. He's likely in need of surgery now, but obviously won't get it before the World Cup. That along with the bumps and bruises of a long, difficult Premier League season means that the team's best player may not be able to perform up to his best level, and almost certainly won't be getting better as the tournament goes along. There are few players in the tournament who are more singularly crucial to the performance of their team than Drogba is.
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