Tuesday, January 5, 2010
World Cup 2010: Volume 2 - The Group of Death
In every world cup drawing, there is almost always a “group of death.” This group usually consists of four very strong teams that could easily contend and go deep into the tournament. For South Africa, it’s Group G, which consists of Portugal, North Korea, Ivory Coast, and five-time World Cup champion Brazil.
North Korea is probably the weakest team on paper but in their only other tournament appearance they reached the quarterfinals in a Cinderella-type run, beating Italy in what some people consider the biggest World Cup upset ever. The North Koreans are a hard-nosed group who provide flashes of excitement with Hong Yong-Jo and Mun In-Guk.
Speaking of flashes of excitement, Group G is home to one of the most exciting players to watch in South Africa. Christiano Ronaldo, who is a lightning rod in the world of soccer, will try to bring Portugal to the forefront. Love him or hate him (for most it’s the latter) Ronaldo is a show on his own. The Portuguese have no shortage of talent and their coach is the former coach of host nation South Africa. It will be a heated contest when the Portuguese face their rivals, Brazil. This will be an exciting one to watch with a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs.”
Brazil is to the World Cup as the New York Yankees are to baseball. They win, period. Brazil is the only country to qualify and compete in every world cup amassing a 64-14-14 record. Of course Brazil is favored to win it all for the sixth time, but that’s like saying Roger Federer is a favorite at Wimbledon. (I mean, duuhhh.) They have a team full of stars and they can only beat themselves or have a really bad day.
The surprise of the group might just be the Ivory Coast, who in my eyes are the most dangerous African team in the tournament. They will have home field advantage, which makes them a group favorite. Les Elephantes have a handful of stars including one of the best strikers in the world, Didier Drogba. This is definitely a team to keep your eye on and their match against Portugal on June 15th might be one of the best matches of the group stage and might determine who moves out of group play along with Brazil.