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Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010


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OK, so I've been on the forum as much in the last three months as Gordon Brown's gonna be in 10 Downing Street from here on in - so a parting gift of sorts I've decided to do a writeup/pseudo analysis of the team's participating in the FIFA World Cup. BTW, if there's a lack of 'u's in this piece, blame the faulty flippin' keyboard, not my beautiful hands and their divine work. ;)

Now that that's out of the way here's Group A - South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay et France.

South Africa

South-Africa-Squad-World-Cup-2010_2389127.jpg

Nickname - 'Bafana Bafana'

Captain - Aaron Mokoena, Portsmouth

Coach - Carlos Alberto Parreira

FIFA World Ranking - 90th

Highest 'Castrol Ranking' Player - Steven Pienaar - 190

Look out for - Pienaar, Tshabalala

Transfer Roundabout - Pienaar's fantastic season for Everton has attracted the likes of Manchester nited in the tabloids. Very much on display in South Africa.

Strengths - Solid defence, outstanding home support

Weaknesses - Pitifully weak attack (Benni McCarthy has rejected callups before, and says he may not play this Summer, meaning that 'star' striker wold most likely be Katlego Mphela, not a top player by any means)

Chances of Winning the World Cup - Similar to those of Portsmouth making a move for Rooney, first things first, SA need to assess if they can make it ot of the group stages.

Summary - You can bet your bottom dollar that South Africa wouldn't be participating in this years' World Cup if they weren't hosting it. I'm guessing that aside from the players who ply their trade in England, many forumers would struggle to name South African internationals, many of whom are star players for the likes of the Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates. This lack of star material obviously isn't the only problem, a makeshift attack looks set to feature in the Summers events, and with intense pressure from the South African public to do well in the tournament, (no host team has ever failed to make it out of the group stages in the World Cup) it could all go pear shaped.

Look out Brazil 2014! - Kermit Erasmus, Masibusane Zongo

If they were a Band - Enter Shikari. A strange mongrel of an outfit, and just as the Hardcore/Electronica outfit were lucky to be at Glasto '09, SA should be just happy taking part. Massive support and fanbase.

Tournament Finish - 4th in Group A

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Mexico

Mexico-Squad-World-Cup-2010_2389121.jpg

Nickname - 'El Tri'

Captain - Rafael Marquez, Barcelona

Coach - Javier Aguirre

FIFA World Ranking - 17th

Highest 'Castrol Ranking' Player - Andres Guardado - 375

Look out for - Vela, Guardado, Blanco

Transfer Roundabout - Javier Hernandez is set for a move to United from Chivas, he cold feature in the World Cup.

Strengths - Technically gifted side, attack minded, not afraid to stick 11 men behind the ball when defending, fantastic team ethic.

Weaknesses - Very quick to foul, lacking players with European pedigree, plus in nets Guillermo Ochoa has his moments too.

Chances of Winning the World Cup - Not great. Many think it's between Uruguay and Mexico for the second place finish in Group A, but IMO with the erratic nature of the French team, anybody (bar South Africa, sorry South Africa! :) ) could get out of the group in pole position. They get out of the group and anything cold happen, the team named will not be dissimilar to the one that took the Argies into extra time in Germany 4 years ago, so a Qarter Final berth would be the best outcome I can see for Mexico.

Summary - Under the hugely popular Aguirre, a Mexico side who were lucky to qualify after Sven's demolition job on their chances will go in hungry. Carlos Vela, at most an impact sub for Arsenal is Mexico's main attacking threat, and with support down the flanks from Deportivo's Guardado and Galatasaray's Dos Santos, the rock solid CB pairing of Jonny Magallon and Rafa Marquez will mainly have to deal with swift counters. Like I said, they aren't certain to make it out of the group, but the knockout stages are a definite possibility for Mexico; if they do emerge though, sadly they look unable to properl challenge the big boys.

Look out Brazil 2014! - Martin Galvan, Jonny Dos Santos,

If they were a Band -

Shakira. Scintillating, attractive Latin Style... Tough with a little hint of darkness underneath. *Note, in no way am I insinuating that Shakira is in any way affiliated with criminals, try comparing the Mexican National Team to a musician for goodness' sake!*

Tournament Finish - Last Sixteen.

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Uruguay

Uruguary-Squad-World-Cup-2010_2389143.jpg

Nickname - 'La Celeste'

Captain - Diego Lugano, Fenerbahce

Coach - Oscar Tabarez

FIFA World Ranking - 19th

Highest 'Castrol Ranking' Player - Diego Forlan - 82

Look out for - Lodeiro, Suarez, Forlan

Transfer Roundabout - Luis Suarez seems at last to be on his way to a European superclub after years of speculation. He can take his pick as Barca, Inter, Chelsea, Manchester United and Juve have been credited interest.

Strengths - Well oiled defense, Coach Tabarez has also solved Uruguay's 'keeper crisis by drafting in Muslera of Lazio, who along with the normal defense of Maxi Pereira, Diego Godin, Diego Lgano and Martin Caceres provides a very good foundation. Dangerous frontline too, young Nicolas Lodeiro of Ajax is the main creative spark, and with a front pairing of Suarez and Forlan any defense should be wary.

Weaknesses - One word here - inconsistency. This is the team that were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Brazil in Sao paulo in the fourth round of qualifying and collapsed 4-0 losers in Montevideo in the (unlucky? :P) thirteenth.

Chances of Winning the World Cup - Slim to nothing. Not a tournament team, as they've failed to garner any kind of consistency in the last 3 years.

Summary - As I've said with Mexico, it's going to be a coin toss if they want to get out of the group, and there would be limited progression, if at all depending on the circumstances.

If they can string together the results and if France are at their lowest ebb, progression isn't unlikely, but it's a difficult to gauge group as far as the top three teams are concerned.

Look out Brazil 2014! - Gonzalo Barreto, Abel Hernandez, Lodeiro

If they were a Band - Buddy Holly. Biggest of the big in the 50s, died a death before 1960.

Tournament Finish - 3rd in Group A

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France

France-Squad-World-Cup-2010_2389093.jpg

Nickname - 'Les Bleus'

Captain - Thierry Henry, Barcelona

Coach - Raymond Domenech

FIFA World Ranking - 10th

Highest 'Castrol Ranking' Player - Florent Malouda - 12

Look out for - Ribery, Gourcuff

Transfer Roundabout - Ribery, Lloris and Lass Diarra all find themselves linked with megabucks moves. Rumour has it a certain Scotsman fancies bringing Karim Benzema to Manchester, and after a poor season for Madrid he'll snap at any opportunity to feature in South Africa.

Strengths - Out of the squad of 23, there should be between 13 and 15 world class players, they have one of Europe's best goalkeepers in Hugo Lloris (no longer a good youth 'keeper, he's stepped up his game this term), a phenomenal defense, midfield and attack. They should be a force to be reckoned with given the names on the back of those famous blue shirts.

Weaknesses - Should be. But they probably won't. The one truely major weakness I can find in France is the coach. Domenech has some of the best players in the world at his disposal, but still finds that one and one don't add up to give two. The sum of France's parts don't add up to this lacklustre side, one without any real chance of winning the World Cup unless things do a complete U Turn in less than a month. Don't count on it. Thierry Henry (stand in for Vieira) is not a natural captain and not the player he was, whereas Benzema hasn't shown himself to be worthy of the moniker 'the new Henry', so they could be reliant on Anelka to bag the goals. Neither Toulalan or Lassana Diarra are the Deschamps/Vieira class midfielder for their national side who marshalls the midfield which puts more unnecessary pressure on the defence. Also an issue is the serious lack of confidence in the team. It isn't possible to adress all of these issues before the World Cup, and France can't expect such a flawed team to beat a polished side like Spain or Brazil.

Chances of Winning the World Cup - 12/1 seems the concensus on the betting market, and I think that's not too far from the truth. I believe that if they run into a Brazil, Spain or England they'll fall flat on their faces, so it'll take a phenomenal amount of luck for France to win the World Cup. I'd pool them with Italy, Germany and Holland in terms of chances, but I'd back any of the aforementioned (maybe bar Italy) to beat France if they met.

Summary - France are a side whose total doesn't add up to the sum of its pieces. A golden generation is coming throgh, but under Domenech France aren't the serious contenders that they could and should be. His beligerant loyalty to the old guard has cost them, and the only chance they have is if the players have the tournament of their lives. With the jewel in their crown Ribery having a bad season by his standards, France need to find another creative spark unless he picks up his form. Gourcuff's an option, but an inexperienced one. France's 4-2-3-1 isn't bad, but Ribery's at his chaotic best down the flanks, not behind the striker and undoubtedly Domenech will pick Henry over Malouda (big mistake after the Chelsea man's season IMO) down the left. France are in disarray. Full stop.

Look out Brazil 2014! - Griezmann, Sissoko, Sakho

If they were a Band - Spinal Tap. Well known name, full of oldies, a bit of a joke.

Tournament Finish - 1st in Group A, Quarter/Semifinal Finish.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

Looks like the beginning of a nice thread. I just hope you get round to finishing this one ;)

Uruguay to cause a surprise' date=' knocking Mexico or Franco out. Likely France.[/quote']

Mexico lost 6 games in qualifying, all of them away. Given that the World Cup is full of away games and the climate probably favouring the French I think Mexico will struggle to get through the groups. If Uruguay perform to potential then I think they could cause a surprise by topping the group causing an incredible possible second round clash between France and Argentina, the qualifying failures.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

A host nation has never gone out in the group stage. I tip South Africa and Uruguay to go through. I just can't see where the goals are going to come from for France. If the WC was last year, fine! Henry, Benzema & Anelka were on fire but as you mentioned now nothing. Domenech is like Bramble in management! Mexico's defense is rubbish as well.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

A host nation has never gone out in the group stage. I tip South Africa and Uruguay to go through.

That's true' date=' but you have to remember who the host nations have been in the past. The only 'weak' hosts before now have been USA in 1994, and Japan/S.Korea in 2002... and even they were all far stronger at the time than South Africa are currently.

South Africa are ranked 90th in the world (behind Mozambique, Guinea, Haiti, Malawi, Panama, El Salvador etc) for a reason. I really can't see a team who failed so miserably to even qualify for the African Cup of Nations, finishing anywhere other than bottom of the group.

France may be under the shoddy management of Domenech, but with this group being so weak compared to most others, even he shouldn't be able to mess things up badly enough to stop them making the 2nd round.

Uruguay might win the group if they find good form. Even if they don't, I'd expect them to go through with France.

Mexico have a few players to watch out for in the future, but they won't be setting this World Cup alight. The defence is weak, and their biggest goal threat is probably still Cuauhtemoc Blanco (even at 37). The two things they do have in their favour are pace in midfield (i suspect we might see quick counter attacks), and the fact that they have to play against South Africa (9 times out of 10, that's a guaranteed 3 points).

[b']Group A Verdict:[/b]

France and Uruguay =1st (winner determined by goal difference)

Mexico 3rd

South Africa 4th

Good thread, by the way. ;)

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

That's true' date=' but you have to remember who the host nations have been in the past. The only 'weak' hosts before now have been USA in 1994, and Japan/S.Korea in 2002... and even they were all far stronger at the time than South Africa are currently.

South Africa are ranked 90th in the world (behind Mozambique, Guinea, Haiti, Malawi, Panama, El Salvador etc) for a reason. I really can't see a team who failed so miserably to even qualify for the African Cup of Nations, finishing anywhere other than bottom of the group.

France may be under the shoddy management of Domenech, but with this group being so weak compared to most others, even he shouldn't be able to mess things up badly enough to stop them making the 2nd round.

Uruguay might win the group if they find good form. Even if they don't, I'd expect them to go through with France.

Mexico have a few players to watch out for in the future, but they won't be setting this World Cup alight. The defence is weak, and their biggest goal threat is probably still Cuauhtemoc Blanco (even at 37). The two things they do have in their favour are pace in midfield (i suspect we might see quick counter attacks), and the fact that they have to play against South Africa (9 times out of 10, that's a guaranteed 3 points).

[b']Group A Verdict:[/b]

France and Uruguay =1st (winner determined by goal difference)

Mexico 3rd

South Africa 4th

Good thread, by the way. ;)

I know what you are saying there but South Africa aren't awful. Personally I think they will be better than Mexico. I just can't stand Domenech so I am probably being a bit harsh on France. With home support and being in a weaker group I think South Africa can scrape it though.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

I know what you are saying there but South Africa aren't awful. Personally I think they will be better than Mexico. I just can't stand Domenech so I am probably being a bit harsh on France. With home support and being in a weaker group I think South Africa can scrape it though.

To me, South Africa are a team that flatter to deceive. I will admit, they've looked ok in recent friendlies (and also to some extent in the Confederations Cup), but when it comes down to it they just don't get results.

Just look at their record in ACoN qualifying:

2 defeats vs Nigeria (ok, so that's expected)

1 draw, 1 defeat vs Sierra Leone

2 wins vs Equatorial Guinea

If they can only manage to beat Equatorial Guinea in competitive games, and can't manage more than 1 point from 6 against Sierra Leone, how can they be expected to take points off Uruguay and France in a World Cup?

Then after that in last year's Confederations Cup, they only team they beat all tournament was New Zealand, with a draw against Iraq being their only other point. Ok, so they didn't exactly get hammered when they played Spain or Brazil, but neither of those teams even broke sweat in that tournament, yet South Africa looked like they were playing out of their skin.

Maybe home support will prove to be a bigger factor than I anticipate, and maybe I'll get proved wrong... but at the moment, I just can't see it. A draw against Mexico is a maybe... anything more than that? No.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

love it' date=' so far:D[/quote']

Thanks, not that there's much so far! :D

Gutted there's no 'real' Group of Death this time, Argentina/Netherlands/Ivory Coast/Serbia would be a great one to write about... :(

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

I doubt SA dropping on group stage. In World Cup the host country does always well. Football ias a game with huge influence from the audience and referees using immense arbitrary power. In South Africa these two things will be more decisive than ever. I don't say that South Africa will deserve going through the group stage but they'll get strange penalties, opponents will get goals disallowed, the small fouls are called in favor of South Africans etc. I'm absolutely positive that South Africa won't drop on group stage. If the World Cup was played in Equatorial Guinea, then Equatorial Guinea would drop no matter what team in the group stage. Football is a subtle game and the results can turn to any direction and this is always in favor of the host country. Just think about South Korea dropping both Italy and Spain when hosting a World Cup.

I'd say that Mexico will lose this group, if not France. France is the big question here. There are interesting changes about to happen in French squad just before the World Cup. Tactics-wise France might change to 3 man midfield and play with only one DM now that Lass got injured. Player-wise there's a chance that Henry is thrown back to the point and new more energetic players are tried, particularly on right flank. This would mean that France would have immensely skilled left flank with Evra-Malouda-Ribery, while Henry would no doubt play his best position as a CF. And should he fail, there's a long list of strikers to take his place. Either these changes revive the squad and France goes far, or the nothing except for Lloris' magic tricks will save us, and maybe not even that.

Uruguay isn't really strong squad, but they have Forlan and that's a guy who can win them some matches all by himself. one victory and one tie may be enough for going through.

Basically, either France wins the group and both Uruguay and Mexico drop, or then Uruguay wins the group and France and Mexico drop. SA will be the second placed team. Therefore, the very decisive for this group will be the first match between Uruguay and France. Although, in case of France's loss (not so much in case of a tie, because I know that tie isn't enough for that loser Domenech to make changes) there's the chance that France will take the risk and throw significantly different starting XI for the next two matches and win them. Then, if SA would indeed surprise in this group, which I don't think would be such a surprise, it might be that Uruguay would drop even if they won France.

For France the biggest enemy is France itself. I fear that if we indeed start with Abidal-Gallas central defence, Lloris will have hell of a lot of work against Uruguay (and Forlan!). That hazardous duo could produce just too many good chances for those very skilled Uruguayan strikers. But, as I said, a defeat against Uruguay could lead to necessary changes, amongst them swapping the central defence pair from Abidal-Gallas to Squillaci-Planus (way more reliable) and therefore there would still be a chance.

In case of Uruguay's defeat in the match against France I think it's clear then: Uruguay will be either 3rd or 4th.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

Thanks' date=' not that there's much so far! :D

Gutted there's no 'real' Group of Death this time, Argentina/Netherlands/Ivory Coast/Serbia would be a great one to write about... :([/quote']

Well, Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast goes quite close. My guess: Portugal will drop. Brazil and Ivory Coast are my two favorites to win the Cup. In fact, any other team stands pretty much zero chance in my opinion, except perhaps for Cameroon.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

I know what you are saying there but South Africa aren't awful. Personally I think they will be better than Mexico. I just can't stand Domenech so I am probably being a bit harsh on France. With home support and being in a weaker group I think South Africa can scrape it though.

South Africa is awful. They can still go trhough, because in football you can be awful and still win. The better team often loses, in short tournament the difference doesn't always show.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

South Africa is awful. They can still go trhough' date=' because in football you can be awful and still win. The better team often loses, in short tournament the difference doesn't always show.[/quote']

If the World Cup was anywhere else I would say South Africa last or second last. It's almost a gut feeling that I've tried to back up with flimsy evidence that they will go through :D

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

If the World Cup was anywhere else I would say South Africa last or second last. It's almost a gut feeling that I've tried to back up with flimsy evidence that they will go through :D

All my claims are based on historical stats. I think they support our case: SA will advance from this group. My other case, the winner being either Cameroon, Ivory Coast or Brazil is just as backed up. Of course, there's a small chance that it would be Nigeria, but I doubt their level really. Their chance was in 90's and that they didn't win it is more evidence for my foresight about the winner.

My feeling then is that Brazil won't take the 3 consecutive victories (this, Brazil 2014, Some-Asian-Country 2018) and it will be Ivory Coast this time. They should have the home field advantage with Drogba being the beloved boy of whole Africa. I also predict that Drogba will smash all the scoring records after banging at least a double hat trick against North Korea.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

I doubt SA dropping on group stage. In World Cup the host country does always well.

Just think about South Korea dropping both Italy and Spain when hosting a World Cup.

Well yeah' date=' the stats say the host usually does well, but like I said before... there's never been a host anywhere NEAR as weak as the current South Africa team.

That 2002 South Korea squad might have been full of unknown players at the time, but if you look back now they were actually pretty strong. S.Korea and Japan both had really weak groups at that World Cup. Also, the Spain team at the time was still collapsing anytime they felt the slightest bit of pressure, and the Italians always leave themselves open to shock results with their '1-0 will do' tactics. It's not like they beat Brazil or Germany is it? :rolleyes:

Uruguay isn't really strong squad, but they have Forlan and that's a guy who can win them some matches all by himself. one victory and one tie may be enough for going through.

Uruguay are maybe not the strongest of the South American teams in the competition, but Forlan and Suarez is a strike partnership that's arguably better than what France can offer these days.

Those two, combined with the physical nature of the rest of the team (particularly the defence) should be enough to bully wins out of the more flimsy Mexico and South Africa sides... especially as neither of those two has any obvious goal threat in their own sides, and both seem to be a bit iffy at the back.

All my claims are based on historical stats. I think they support our case: SA will advance from this group. My other case' date=' the winner being either Cameroon, Ivory Coast or Brazil is just as backed up.

My feeling then is that Brazil won't take the 3 consecutive victories (this, Brazil 2014, Some-Asian-Country 2018) and it will be Ivory Coast this time. They should have the home field advantage with Drogba being the beloved boy of whole Africa. I also predict that Drogba will smash all the scoring records after banging at least a double hat trick against North Korea.[/quote']

I really can't see ANY African team winning this World Cup really. Ivory Coast obviously have the best squad, but the problem for them is that the competition takes place in the South African winter, which is similar to springtime in Europe. This is going to suit teams like Spain, Germany, Italy, England, France and Holland perfectly (Ivory Coast had pretty much the same squad at Germany 2006, and look back at how they performed against Argentina and Holland there).

Ivory Coast also failed miserably at the ACoN earlier this year, and were beaten by an admittedly good (although weaker on paper) Egypt at the previous two tournaments. The fact that they've only reached one final since they won it in 1992, when in recent years they should have had enough quality to walk to victory (minimum expectation would have been to win at least ONE of the last four), suggests to me that they choke when they're under pressure... not good if you want to win a World Cup. Ivory Coast will get knocked out by Spain in the second round.

I don't even think Cameroon will get out of their group this year, to be honest. Eto'o is brilliant, but he doesn't get the same supply he got at Barcelona or now (to a lesser extent) at Inter. He can't really win games by himself in the same way Messi or Ronaldo can. He needs someone else to create the chances for him, and I'm not sure Cameroon have enough creativity in midfield for Eto'o to be as effective as he can be. Holland, Denmark and Japan are much tougher opposition than Gabon, Togo and Morocco.

Denmark are on fire at the moment, and Holland are just way too good for Cameroon to contend with. Those two will progress from Group E.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

Well yeah' date=' the stats say the host usually does well, but like I said before... there's never been a host anywhere NEAR as weak as the current South Africa team.

That 2002 South Korea squad might have been full of unknown players at the time, but if you look back now they were actually pretty strong. S.Korea and Japan both had really weak groups at that World Cup. Also, the Spain team at the time was still collapsing anytime they felt the slightest bit of pressure, and the Italians always leave themselves open to shock results with their '1-0 will do' tactics. It's not like they beat Brazil or Germany is it? :rolleyes:

Uruguay are maybe not the strongest of the South American teams in the competition, but Forlan and Suarez is a strike partnership that's arguably better than what France can offer these days.

Those two, combined with the physical nature of the rest of the team (particularly the defence) should be enough to bully wins out of the more flimsy Mexico and South Africa sides... especially as neither of those two has any obvious goal threat in their own sides, and both seem to be a bit iffy at the back.

I really can't see ANY African team winning this World Cup really. Ivory Coast obviously have the best squad, but the problem for them is that the competition takes place in the South African winter, which is similar to springtime in Europe. This is going to suit teams like Spain, Germany, Italy, England, France and Holland perfectly (Ivory Coast had pretty much the same squad at Germany 2006, and look back at how they performed against Argentina and Holland there).

Ivory Coast also failed miserably at the ACoN earlier this year, and were beaten by an admittedly good (although weaker on paper) Egypt at the previous two tournaments. The fact that they've only reached one final since they won it in 1992, when in recent years they should have had enough quality to walk to victory (minimum expectation would have been to win at least ONE of the last four), suggests to me that they choke when they're under pressure... not good if you want to win a World Cup. Ivory Coast will get knocked out by Spain in the second round.

I don't even think Cameroon will get out of their group this year, to be honest. Eto'o is brilliant, but he doesn't get the same supply he got at Barcelona or now (to a lesser extent) at Inter. He can't really win games by himself in the same way Messi or Ronaldo can. He needs someone else to create the chances for him, and I'm not sure Cameroon have enough creativity in midfield for Eto'o to be as effective as he can be. Holland, Denmark and Japan are much tougher opposition than Gabon, Togo and Morocco.

Denmark are on fire at the moment, and Holland are just way too good for Cameroon to contend with. Those two will progress from Group E.[/quote']

Denmark on fire? Didn't they just receive beating from Austria? I personally like Denmark, but wouldn't say that they're really tougher than Morocco these days. They had a really strong squad in early 2000's, but nowadays there's no stars there. Surely Cameroon is not the weaker team in that group. Even the Dutch are not untouchable: take a look at the central defence of the Netherlands and suddenly you understand why the Dutch might feel certain fear when Eto'o enters the field against them. Although, with their attacking midfield Netherlands should be the favorite to win this group.

Stats go, that only team to ever win a World Cup on a foreign continent is Brazil. So, either Brazil or the Africans this time.

To be honest, C. Ronaldo is Portugal's only chance against Ivory Coast or any other team, I wait for even North Korea being a tough opponent for Portugal (they just tied with some.... Greece, wasn't it?). What you say about Ivory Coast's international success has been said about Spain just until the last EC. This can be Ivory Coast's Cup, just like 2008 was Spain's Cup. They may be ready now. They have a top team, there's no doubt about that, and now they don't have to come to Europe or America to play it, they'll get a sort of home advantage. They seem to have matured a lot. About CAN, the level in Africa is actually quite tough. Proof of it is that Egypt never seems to manage to get into the World Cup. Egypt is a tough country to beat, really, my favorite to win CAN every time. I recall that Al-Ahly club beating several biggest European teams (wasn't it few years ago ManU and Milan, both top of Europe at the time). Only reason why we don't reckon Egypt, is that they never make it to the World Cup, but this is because it is not easy to make it through from Africa, not nearly as easy as it is to make it through from South America for example (where half of the teams qualify, which is already ridiculous). Big African football countries are left out of World Cup every time (just like big Europeans too), while 2 teams come from Oseania and ridiculous 3 teams from North America (really, one place should be enough for North America) and what, 5 from ASia (again, perhaps 3 or 4 would be enough when). The African qualification is by far the most competitive because the level is high while the places in the World Cup are very few.

About home advantage, your memory betrays you. Italy and Spain both were eliminated by the referee. South Korea wasn't better in either match. Both Spain and Italy would have easily advanced without home advantage that the Koreans had. If you look at their team now, it indeed seems very weak. Didn't they just receive serious whooping by some not so great team? And about "it's not as if they'd beaten Germany or Brazil", well, I'm not saying that SA should beat Germany or Brazil either, one tie and one victory against Uruguay, Mexico and France can be enough. Beating Uruguay or Mexico isn't actually beating Italy (World Cup winners in next WC after 2002 when were beaten by South Korea with help of referee) or Spain (European champions just few years later). If Italy can lose any match, how about some of these teams? And by Uruguayan players' "physical nature" you must mean "lack of skill". Really, aside from Forlan, who is awesome, that team doesn't really impress me. If Italy can lose to any team, Uruguay sure can lose to any team as well.

You fail to see that home advantage means everything in World Cup. Actually, almost always when a top country has hosted the cup they have won it too. Even the smaller host countries will advance, they'll get the sufficient help from referee. It's not even the easy red cards to opponents and phantom penalties for hosts that are needed, although they'll probably get them too eventually: all that is needed is that in small issues, small fouls, the situations are judged to the hosts advantage, so that they can use a reasonable amount of more force and violent means in defence, and that they'll get more free kicks in attack, some offsides not ruled and some phantom offsides ruled for the opponent. This can turn the match, especially against teams like Mexico that really are not top of world, but it could really turn the math against a big team like Spain or France too. And, to be honest, neither is Uruguay that was close to not get to the World Cup in first place. Remember that while the European and American referees tend to make mistakes too, there will be Asian and African referees without true professional or international experience and that wouldn't qualify to refereeing matches in our lower divisions. Refereeing is always a big issue in World Cup (although, one hast to note that it isn't always in advantage of the hosts, I recall France, a historical fair play team that had never before got a single red card in a World Cup, getting 2 phantom red cards in home World Cup 1998, namely Zidane for running over opponent, arguably a red card but left unpunished in three other, arguably more intentional and severe cases in the same Cup, and Blanc for a "punch in face" that Bilic simulated).

Only thing that can fail Africans is that FIFA priced their fans out of Cup. I checked for prices and average wages in South Africa, and it's quite improbable that we'll see the crazy audience that supports the SA league matches, because the average salaries and the poorer South African people absolutely can't afford the tickets. So, we'll see some richer South Africans, which also means less noisy and crazy African audience. Not to mention the other Africans, South Africa being amongst the richest countries on continent. Cameroonians probably don't come in masses. Still, I'd say the odds are that Africans will get far. The weather really is a small factor, Ivory Coast's and Cameroon's players play in Europe anyway and seem to do fine.

Take a look at the history, surprising results happen, because a victory turns to a tie easily, as turns a tie to a defeat, goals don't often reflect the control of the game or the level of teams. Only team that is pretty secure is Brazil, and even they do fail sometimes. Usually the surprises are the hosts. Recall also USA getting quite far in their home World Cup when they really were a small football country without any stars at all. In same World Cup Bulgaria beat Germany, by the way, to advance to the semis. These things happen.

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

Denmark on fire? Didn't they just receive beating from Austria? I personally like Denmark' date=' but wouldn't say that they're really tougher than Morocco these days. They had a really strong squad in early 2000's, but nowadays there's no stars there.[/quote']

Friendlies are rarely ever an accurate indication of how good a team is though (remember Cape Verde Islands and Portugal?).

Denmark finished top of one of the tougher groups in the European zone in qualifying with one of the best denensive records (same as Spain and Germany, and better than England, Italy, France, Serbia etc). No obvious stars, but their teamwork and determination are better than almost anyone. They do the simple things really well and that makes them a difficult team to beat.

Also, the Morocco team you compare with Denmark failed to win one single game in round 2 of African qualifying. :rolleyes:

Surely Cameroon is not the weaker team in that group. Even the Dutch are not untouchable: take a look at the central defence of the Netherlands and suddenly you understand why the Dutch might feel certain fear when Eto'o enters the field against them. Although' date=' with their attacking midfield Netherlands should be the favorite to win this group.[/quote']

Yes, but it wont matter if Cameroon can't get the ball to Eto'o. The Dutch midfield is easily good enough to keep possession of the ball for large periods of the game. Then when Cameroon do get the ball, they don't have the creative players in midfield to make chances for Eto'o.

Eto'o isn't a player that will chase the ball and do everything himself. He'll sit up front and wait for someone else to set things up for him... and Cameroon aren't good enough to give him enough chances to be dangerous.

Stats go' date=' that only team to ever win a World Cup on a foreign continent is Brazil. So, either Brazil or the Africans this time.[/quote']

It isn't really anything to do with the continent the tournament takes place in, it's more because of the climate. Hotter favours South American, North African and most Asian teams, cooler favours European teams.

Europe - 10 WCs - 9 European winners (Brazil won in 1958)

The cooler climates in Europe favour the European teams, so they usually win. Brazil was the exception, when they won at the start of their legendary period (with Pele, Garrincha etc).

South/Central America - 6 WCs - 6 South American winners

The generally hotter climates work in the favour of the South American teams, making it difficult for Europeans to win.

The only 2 World Cups held outside Europe or South America, were USA 1994 and Japan/S. Korea 2002. Both of these were in hotter temperatures that don't suit the Europeans - Brazil won both.

The World Cup this year is in the South African winter, which is cool and suits the big European teams. African and South American teams will have NO climate advantage this time. Expect that record to change.

To be honest' date=' C. Ronaldo is Portugal's only chance against Ivory Coast or any other team, I wait for even North Korea being a tough opponent for Portugal (they just tied with some.... Greece, wasn't it?).[/quote']

I agree with you here. Portugal won't get past the group stage. Ronaldo is their only threat, and he tends to underperform for his national team (0 goals in 7 games in qualifying says it all).

Friendlies always throw up weird results (as I said earlier). North Korea probably won't threaten anyone.

The problem for Ivory Coast is they're going to find it very difficult to finish above Brazil in the group... that almost certainly puts them up against Spain in the 2nd round. Can you really see Ivory Coast beating Spain in conditions that will suit Spain almost perfectly? I can't.

What you say about Ivory Coast's international success has been said about Spain just until the last EC. This can be Ivory Coast's Cup' date=' just like 2008 was Spain's Cup. They may be ready now. They have a top team, there's no doubt about that, and now they don't have to come to Europe or America to play it, they'll get a sort of home advantage. They seem to have matured a lot.[/quote']

To me, their abysmal display at the last ACoN suggests they haven't matured at all.

Spain made major changes to their squad between WC 2006 and Euro 2008. A fresh, new squad won that EC - one that didn't have that same 'underachievers' tag on their shoulders.

Ivory Coast's squad has hardly changed in the last 6+ years, so they'll probably suffer from the same problems all over again. Even if they do improve, they have far too tough a draw to get beyond the 2nd round. Brazil and Spain are the best two teams in the world right now, and Ivory Coast will probably have to play both.

About CAN' date=' the level in Africa is actually quite tough. Proof of it is that Egypt never seems to manage to get into the World Cup. Egypt is a tough country to beat, really, my favorite to win CAN every time. I recall that Al-Ahly club beating several biggest European teams (wasn't it few years ago ManU and Milan, both top of Europe at the time). Only reason why we don't reckon Egypt, is that they never make it to the World Cup, but this is because it is not easy to make it through from Africa, not nearly as easy as it is to make it through from South America for example (where half of the teams qualify, which is already ridiculous). Big African football countries are left out of World Cup every time (just like big Europeans too), while 2 teams come from Oseania and ridiculous 3 teams from North America (really, [b']one[/b] place should be enough for North America) and what, 5 from ASia (again, perhaps 3 or 4 would be enough when). The African qualification is by far the most competitive because the level is high while the places in the World Cup are very few.

Maybe the qualification process does seem a bit unfair, but you have to remember it's based on past performances. If African teams started doing well at World Cups, they would have more places in the finals... fact is the ones that DO get beyond the group usually go out in round 2 (not exactly impressive is it?).

Personally, I think Africa has about 5-7 teams on a similar level. That's why the competition is tough. Ivory Coast on paper, are considerably stronger than those 5-7 teams, and should in theory win a lot more than they actually do. Unfortunately for them, they choke under pressure too often, so some other teams are made to look better than they actually are... and this shows when World Cups come round.

In 2006, 4 out of 5 African teams went out in the group stage (3 of them were absolutely awful). Ghana, who did get through, got hammered by Brazil in the 2nd round.

In 2002, 3 out of 4 African teams failed in the group stage. Senegal did ok, but were knocked out by Turkey before they even met a top team in the knockout rounds.

In 1998, 4 out of 5 African teams went home at the same stage. Nigeria were thrashed by Denmark in round 2.

See a pattern?

Competition in Africa might be close, but they're still some distance behind Europe and South America.

About home advantage' date=' your memory betrays you. Italy and Spain both were eliminated by the referee. South Korea wasn't better in either match. Both Spain and Italy would have easily advanced without home advantage that the Koreans had. If you look at their team now, it indeed seems very weak. Didn't they just receive serious whooping by some not so great team?[/quote']

I didn't forget about that... it just doesn't affect my point.

Italy went 1-0 up very early on. If they didn't suddenly start playing super defensively, they could easily have gone 2-0 or 3-0 up. When you're 2 or 3 in front, one dodgy decision doesn't suddenly change who wins the game. Italy's tactics left them vunerable to that kind of error. It was mostly their own fault they lost that match, not the referee's.

Spain needed penalties to beat Ireland in the match before South Korea. They were then very poor in the Korea game. Spain were good on paper at the time, but poor on the pitch... kind of like Ivory Coast at the last ACoN.

Also, once again, South Korea back then were a lot better than South Africa are now. I never said South Korea are good now... they aren't.

And about "it's not as if they'd beaten Germany or Brazil"' date=' well, I'm not saying that SA should beat Germany or Brazil either, one tie and one victory against Uruguay, Mexico and France can be enough. Beating Uruguay or Mexico isn't actually beating Italy (World Cup winners in next WC after 2002 when were beaten by South Korea with help of referee) or Spain (European champions just few years later). If Italy can lose any match, how about some of these teams?[/quote']

All that is covered by what I've been saying about that Korean team being a lot better than the current South African team.

And by Uruguayan players' "physical nature" you must mean "lack of skill". Really' date=' aside from Forlan, who is awesome, that team doesn't really impress me.[/quote']

No. I'm not saying Uruguay are brilliant, just that they are a lot better than South Africa. My 'physical nature' comment was directed at the fact that teams with big, strong players (Uruguay) tend to do well against teams with mostly small, quick, technical players (like South Africa and Mexico). You only have to look at Stoke and Bolton's records against Arsenal in recent years to see that. And Arsenal are the better team in that example... South Africa are the weaker team here.

Lugano, Godin, Suarez, Rodriguez, Caceres, Gargano, Abreu and Eguren are all vastly superior to anyone South Africa has except Pienaar, to answer the second point. Not world class, but they don't have to be.

You fail to see that home advantage means everything in World Cup. Actually' date=' almost always when a top country has hosted the cup they have won it too.[/quote']

That's partly true. When a big country hosts, they have won 50% of the time. That is a lot, but it's not really 'almost always'.

Also, most of those happened a long, long time ago. In the past 30 years, the only tournament a top nation won as hosts was France 98 - the other 3 were won by other countries.

2006 - Germany hosted, Italy won.

1998 - France hosted, France won.

1990 - Italy hosted, Germany won.

1982 - Spain hosted, Italy won.

1978 - Argentina hosted, Argentina won.

1974 - Germany hosted, Germany won.

1966 - England hosted, England won.

1950 - Brazil hosted, Uruguay won.

1938 - France hosted, Italy won.

1934 - Italy hosted, Italy won.

(I ignored Uruguay 1930 as most major European teams refused to enter - Uruguay won almost by default.)

The weather really is a small factor' date=' Ivory Coast's and Cameroon's players play in Europe anyway and seem to do fine.[/quote']

Yes, that's true. The problem is that players from every top team play in Europe too, and also do fine. When the weather is cool, all the teams know how to play in the conditions, so usually just whoever is best wins (European natives have a small advantage, but not much).

If the weather was hot, pretty much nobody from England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Holland etc would be comfortable playing in that climate, so South American and African teams would have a big advantage - they won't have that in South Africa.

Take a look at the history' date=' surprising results happen, because a victory turns to a tie easily, as turns a tie to a defeat, goals don't often reflect the control of the game or the level of teams. Only team that is pretty secure is Brazil, and even they do fail sometimes. Usually the surprises are the hosts. Recall also USA getting quite far in their home World Cup when they really were a small football country without any stars at all. In same World Cup Bulgaria beat Germany, by the way, to advance to the semis. These things happen.[/quote']

I've already said that USA team was better than what South Africa has now.

That Bulgarian team was actually pretty amazing. Hristo Stoichkov and co getting to the semis wasn't really a surprise at all (neither was Croatia 4 years later, actually).

Surprises happen... miracles don't. :o:)

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Re: Spam's Team Guide to the FIFA World Cup 2010

Friendlies are rarely ever an accurate indication of how good a team is though (remember Cape Verde Islands and Portugal?).

Denmark finished top of one of the tougher groups in the European zone in qualifying with one of the best denensive records (same as Spain and Germany' date=' and better than England, Italy, France, Serbia etc). No obvious stars, but their teamwork and determination are better than almost anyone. They do the simple things really well and that makes them a difficult team to beat.

Also, the Morocco team you compare with Denmark failed to win one single game in round 2 of African qualifying. :rolleyes:

Yes, but it wont matter if Cameroon can't get the ball to Eto'o. The Dutch midfield is easily good enough to keep possession of the ball for large periods of the game. Then when Cameroon do get the ball, they don't have the creative players in midfield to make chances for Eto'o.

Eto'o isn't a player that will chase the ball and do everything himself. He'll sit up front and wait for someone else to set things up for him... and Cameroon aren't good enough to give him enough chances to be dangerous.

It isn't really anything to do with the continent the tournament takes place in, it's more because of the climate. Hotter favours South American, North African and most Asian teams, cooler favours European teams.

[b']Europe - 10 WCs - 9 European winners (Brazil won in 1958)[/b]

The cooler climates in Europe favour the European teams, so they usually win. Brazil was the exception, when they won at the start of their legendary period (with Pele, Garrincha etc).

South/Central America - 6 WCs - 6 South American winners

The generally hotter climates work in the favour of the South American teams, making it difficult for Europeans to win.

The only 2 World Cups held outside Europe or South America, were USA 1994 and Japan/S. Korea 2002. Both of these were in hotter temperatures that don't suit the Europeans - Brazil won both.

The World Cup this year is in the South African winter, which is cool and suits the big European teams. African and South American teams will have NO climate advantage this time. Expect that record to change.

I agree with you here. Portugal won't get past the group stage. Ronaldo is their only threat, and he tends to underperform for his national team (0 goals in 7 games in qualifying says it all).

Friendlies always throw up weird results (as I said earlier). North Korea probably won't threaten anyone.

The problem for Ivory Coast is they're going to find it very difficult to finish above Brazil in the group... that almost certainly puts them up against Spain in the 2nd round. Can you really see Ivory Coast beating Spain in conditions that will suit Spain almost perfectly? I can't.

To me, their abysmal display at the last ACoN suggests they haven't matured at all.

Spain made major changes to their squad between WC 2006 and Euro 2008. A fresh, new squad won that EC - one that didn't have that same 'underachievers' tag on their shoulders.

Ivory Coast's squad has hardly changed in the last 6+ years, so they'll probably suffer from the same problems all over again. Even if they do improve, they have far too tough a draw to get beyond the 2nd round. Brazil and Spain are the best two teams in the world right now, and Ivory Coast will probably have to play both.

Maybe the qualification process does seem a bit unfair, but you have to remember it's based on past performances. If African teams started doing well at World Cups, they would have more places in the finals... fact is the ones that DO get beyond the group usually go out in round 2 (not exactly impressive is it?).

Personally, I think Africa has about 5-7 teams on a similar level. That's why the competition is tough. Ivory Coast on paper, are considerably stronger than those 5-7 teams, and should in theory win a lot more than they actually do. Unfortunately for them, they choke under pressure too often, so some other teams are made to look better than they actually are... and this shows when World Cups come round.

In 2006, 4 out of 5 African teams went out in the group stage (3 of them were absolutely awful). Ghana, who did get through, got hammered by Brazil in the 2nd round.

In 2002, 3 out of 4 African teams failed in the group stage. Senegal did ok, but were knocked out by Turkey before they even met a top team in the knockout rounds.

In 1998, 4 out of 5 African teams went home at the same stage. Nigeria were thrashed by Denmark in round 2.

See a pattern?

Competition in Africa might be close, but they're still some distance behind Europe and South America.

I didn't forget about that... it just doesn't affect my point.

Italy went 1-0 up very early on. If they didn't suddenly start playing super defensively, they could easily have gone 2-0 or 3-0 up. When you're 2 or 3 in front, one dodgy decision doesn't suddenly change who wins the game. Italy's tactics left them vunerable to that kind of error. It was mostly their own fault they lost that match, not the referee's.

Spain needed penalties to beat Ireland in the match before South Korea. They were then very poor in the Korea game. Spain were good on paper at the time, but poor on the pitch... kind of like Ivory Coast at the last ACoN.

Also, once again, South Korea back then were a lot better than South Africa are now. I never said South Korea are good now... they aren't.

All that is covered by what I've been saying about that Korean team being a lot better than the current South African team.

No. I'm not saying Uruguay are brilliant, just that they are a lot better than South Africa. My 'physical nature' comment was directed at the fact that teams with big, strong players (Uruguay) tend to do well against teams with mostly small, quick, technical players (like South Africa and Mexico). You only have to look at Stoke and Bolton's records against Arsenal in recent years to see that. And Arsenal are the better team in that example... South Africa are the weaker team here.

Lugano, Godin, Suarez, Rodriguez, Caceres, Gargano, Abreu and Eguren are all vastly superior to anyone South Africa has except Pienaar, to answer the second point. Not world class, but they don't have to be.

That's partly true. When a big country hosts, they have won 50% of the time. That is a lot, but it's not really 'almost always'.

Also, most of those happened a long, long time ago. In the past 30 years, the only tournament a top nation won as hosts was France 98 - the other 3 were won by other countries.

2006 - Germany hosted, Italy won.

1998 - France hosted, France won.

1990 - Italy hosted, Germany won.

1982 - Spain hosted, Italy won.

1978 - Argentina hosted, Argentina won.

1974 - Germany hosted, Germany won.

1966 - England hosted, England won.

1950 - Brazil hosted, Uruguay won.

1938 - France hosted, Italy won.

1934 - Italy hosted, Italy won.

(I ignored Uruguay 1930 as most major European teams refused to enter - Uruguay won almost by default.)

Yes, that's true. The problem is that players from every top team play in Europe too, and also do fine. When the weather is cool, all the teams know how to play in the conditions, so usually just whoever is best wins (European natives have a small advantage, but not much).

If the weather was hot, pretty much nobody from England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Holland etc would be comfortable playing in that climate, so South American and African teams would have a big advantage - they won't have that in South Africa.

I've already said that USA team was better than what South Africa has now.

That Bulgarian team was actually pretty amazing. Hristo Stoichkov and co getting to the semis wasn't really a surprise at all (neither was Croatia 4 years later, actually).

Surprises happen... miracles don't. :o:)

Only 4 points to highlight right now:

1. Yes, South Korea might have been tougher 2002 than South Africa is now, but so was Italy 2002 significantly tougher than Mexico or Uruguay now.

2. If you don't recall why South Korea really won those matches, please do watch this video:

They didn't win because of Italian tactics, but because the referee constantly allowed them to kick and beat the Italians, and because the Italians were disallowed a goal that should have been accepted. Same thing happened against Spain. There was no question at all about this: Italy and Spain were infinitely better than South Korea, but when your allowed to punch and kick and your opponents goals are disallowed, that sort of evens things up. This is probably the only time the Italians didn't even dive so much, you can see from the slow motion, that they received punches in face and chest and still tried to play. Almost all Koreans should have been showed a red card in the match against Italy, if referee would have whistled it according to the rules of football. Italy also got a red card in a situation, where if you look the slow motion, you see clearly that Italy should have received a penalty, because it was a tackle from behind and straight to feet and didn't touch the ball. South Korea's run in World Cup 2002 is probably the most disgraceful event in World Cup history and I can easily see same thing or something similar happening in South Africa now. And, when you think about it, it doesn't even need that much for South Africa to just advance from their group.

The refereeing of the whole tournament was amongst the worst I've ever seen and it would have been scandalously bad in any western European league, but nevertheless, I can see the same thing happening again.

3. You can hardly count France a big football country in 1938, nor was Spain 1982. Just until 80's there were only 5 big ones in my opinion: England, Italy, Germany, Brazil and Argentina, although France, Holland, Uruguay and Hungary had time to time been able to challenge them, it was only occasionally. Even England, you can say, wasn't really constantly on that top level. By the way, there's no way Sweden was second best in world 1958, yet, in their home Cup, they went to finals. Still, you're right, almost half the times it has been another big country to win it. Nevertheless, I still argue this one thing: no European country has ever won outside of Europe. I believe this remains a factor. As remains that the hosts always do well. I'm not saying that South Africa would go to finals, but as hosts, they're almost sure to advance from their group. And, Ivory Coast winning the title doesn't really need a miracle. They get a half home advantage, particularly when other Africans are out, and why I say they have matured is exactly because of the way how they have reacted to the losses in CAN particularly.

4. If the places are given accordingly to the success, why then do the North Americans get 3 places? And Asians bloody 5? Also, when you look at it, only 2 South American teams have done any way well during last 30-40 years, so why do they get 5 places out of how many countries 9 or 10? I count following African countries competitive on top level: Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Tunis, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria. There's always a place for surprises too, like in Europe, you could count similarly a number of competitive teams to somewhere around 14-15, but some of them always get dropped and some smaller and less competitive teams (e.g. Slovenia) get to World Cup. Of course, not all the competitive teams need to get to World Cup, I'm not saying that. In Africa and Europe this in fact works: even the best need to fight for their places. However, in Americas the better teams are sure to go to World CUp every time, they just can't fail that bad because the places given are ridiculously many when compared to number of competitive countries. That's why I think North Americans should get 2 at max, so that there would be at least a small chance that USA or Mexico could be out of World Cup. Their "success" doesn't really warrant an automatic participation in World Cup, so they should be fighting for it too. And, letting 5 South American in really kills the competition for Brazil and Argentina, that qualify no matter how badly they play. And please, the playoff against second best of Oceania??? That's an automatic qualification, and if not, then there's a question whether the South Americans should permanently have one less places just for not being able to beat the Oceania's second best. Why does the Oceania even have an automatic qualifier? Imo they should qualify with the Asians and 4 places all Oceania and Asia would be enough. If Australia wouldn't qualify against the Asians then they surely shouldn't have a place in World Cup either. Giving the South Americans 5 tickets to World Cup is like giving Spain 5 direct places to CL: there's no way that two biggest would ever be left out of the World Cup. Note, in Africa and in Europe, the biggest can drop out of World Cup, because only the winners of group advance directly and playoffs of the second best (in Europe) can be against a truly competitive opponent.

To be honest, I almost don't care at all. World Cup is really a Mickey Mouse Cup of the democratic idealists who always want every body to be able to participate no matter how badly they suck. If you want a quality football cup, look for the European Championships. That's where there are professional referees and truly tough competition even for participating. Or better yet, the European youth championships. I recall Italy and France playing the playoffs for one European U21 against each other being the last tournaments finalists... that's tough competition in my opinion (of course, in my opinion, that kind of playoff shouldn't be possible, there must be some ranking of teams so that the two best don't have to beat each other before the tournament and we can have all the best in the tournament, but still, it's true competition for the places in the tournament).

I wait for this years World Cup disaster. I'm sure there will again be unbearable refereeing. And I'm sure South Africa advances from their group.

Oh, yet, the 5th point: I think the friendlies before the World Cup are a good indicator of the level on which the teams enter the World Cup. That also is a reason why I'm pretty sure Portugal are not going to advance from their group. They really are bad right now. Only thing they have is C. Ronaldo. He can win matches alone. But I haven't seen him doing that lately, so I doubt him doing it now.

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