2010 World Cup Preview- Group A

As I stated before, I will get some added expertise from Charlie Nobile who is currently in Spain.  He will get me his stuff by tomorrow.  So to all my viewers, my preview will have to do for now!!

FRANCE

This team is as unpredictable as Brett Favre’s retirement.  There are so many questions, and the World Cup will yield the answers.  There has been no consistency, the frogs keep missing their lily pads.  The biggest question is who will be the guy to replace the leadership of the legend Zinedene Zidane?  Who will step up and be the vocal leader, Henry isn’t exactly that guy.  Who will be the playmaker in the midfield?  Will the central defense hold up?  Raymond Domenech is shifting and flip-flopping tactics and formations more than George Bush during his presidency.

Literally, France is talented enough to win the whole freakin thing, but they’ve looked so lousy and inconsistent on the pitch, they could finish last in the entire World Cup.

And can we stop with the handball thing already, good god almighty. Can we please move on, I know it was a horrible call, but that’s the way sports goes sometimes.  (Poor Jim Joyce).  The Ireland fans sound like a bunch of whiny children unhappy because their mommy wouldn’t give them money for the ice cream man.

 

(Henry with the crossover)

Projected Lineup

  • GK- Hugo Lloris
  • LB- Patrice Evra
  • CB- Eric Abidal
  • CB- William Gallas
  • RB- Bacary Sagna
  • LM- Florent Malouda
  • CM- Jeremy Toulalan
  • RM- Yoann Gourcuff
  • LW- Franck Ribery
  • ST- Nicolas Anelka
  • RW- Sidney Govou

 Off the Pine

  • ST- Thierry Henry
  • M- Abou Diaby
  • M- Mathieu Valbuena

 Formation- 4-3-3

 Strategy

 The World Cup is won with the play on the field, not on Paper or even a simulated EA Sports FIFA Game.  Ribery, Gourcuff, Malouda and Anelka are some nice little attacking players.  The French contingency fanbase is already making comparisons of Gourcuff to the great Zidane.  Hugo Lloris is becoming one of the better goaltenders in the world.    

 3 Players To Watch

  1. Franck Ribery- An endless engine with 2 quick little feet.  He’s the guy to look for in a decisive moment in a match.
  2. Florent Malouda- With coach Domenech’s new line-up, this allows Malouda to get on the field.  Malouda however isn’t the most confortable playing a central midfield 3.  He needs to stay more in the middle so he, Evra and Ribery don’t get too clogged on the right.
  3. Thierry Henry-  How will he react to coming off the bench.  There’s no doubt that he still has it.

Schedule

  • 6/11- Uruguay
  • 6/17- Mexico
  • 6/22- South Africa

Odds- 16-1

FIFA RANK- 9

 MEXICO

 Mexico enters their 5th straight World Cup, despite an uneventful qualifying run although they played well down the stretch under new skipper Javier Aguirre.  Mexico fans are ready for this team to break through and make a run to the quarterfinals.  They’ve been knocked out in the Round of 16 the previous 4 World Cups.

Projected Lineup

  •  GK- Guillermo Ochoa
  • LB- Carlos Salcido
  • CB- Francisco Rodriguez
  • CB/CM- Rafael Marquez
  • CB/CM- Efrain Juarez
  • RB- Ricardo Osorio
  • LM- Gerardo Torrado 
  • RM- Paul Aguilar
  • LW- Carlos Vela 
  • CF- Javier Hernandez
  • RW- Giovani Dos Santos

Off the Pine

  • F- Cuauhtemac Blanco
  • M- Andres Guardado
  • F- Guillermo Franco

Formation- 4-3-3/ 3-4-3 / 5-2-3

Strategy

This team with Aguirre in charge is built on organized constant movement, and a strong defensive mindset, at times putting all eleven men behind the ball.  They want to beat you with their flank play and sprinter-like speed down the flanks. They’re essentially a mini Spain, a high tempo and technical squad. 

 3 Players to Watch

  1. Javier Hernandez- A fantastic striker who could shine in the world cup.  Manchester United was quick to sign the 21-year-old.
  2. Giovani Dos Santos- An electric youngster, he’s a little ticked off though that his brother Jonathan was left off the squad.
  3. Cuauhtemac Blanco- A living legend in Mexico and by far Mexico’s best player the last 15 years.  This will undoubtedly be his last hurrah in a Mexican uniform.  He has 38 career international goals.

(Mexico’s living legend Blanco)

Schedule

  • 6/11- South Africa
  • 6/17- France
  • 6/22- Uruguay

 Odds- 80-1

FIFA RANK- 17

 SOUTH AFRICA

 A host team has never been knocked out in the knockout stage, but South Africa is the 2nd lowest ranked team in the Cup.  Bafana Bafana looked solid in the 2009 Confederations Cup where they reached the semifinals.  They lost to Spain in the 3rd place game by a single goal in extra time.  They ultimately illustrated that they could compete at the highest level.  Their success relies on the foot of midfielder Steven Pienaar.

( South Africa’s Pienaar)

 Projected Lineup

  •  GK- Ithumeleng Khune
  • LB- Tsepo Masilela
  • CB- Matthew Booth
  • CB- Aaron Mokoena
  • RB- Siboniso Gaxa
  • LM- Siphiwe Tshabalala
  • CM- Steven Pienaar
  • CM- Teko Modise
  • RM- Rene Letsholonyane
  • LF- Bernard Parker
  • RF- Katlego Mphela

Off The Pine

  • M- Kagisho Dikgacoi
  • M- Thanduyise Kuboni
  • F- Benni McCarthy

Formation- 4-4-2

Strategy

In the 2002 World Cup the host nation underdog South Korea won with their fitness.  South Africa is trying to emulate Korea’s strategy.  It would pay dividends because some of the altitudes in South Africa are not exactly at sea level.  As for the playing style, Coach Parreira is looking  to control possession; rapid, quick passes and movement off the ball.

 3 Players to Watch

  1. Steven Pienaar- The “Mighty Peanut” just came off a fantastic season at Everton in England’s Premier League.  He runs hard and as smooth as peanut butter.  He doesn’t ever seem to  fatigue.  His cross is superb.  If South Africa can get out of Group Stage, Pienaar will become a household name.
  2. Siphiwe Tshabalala- What a name!  Hopefully the South African fans will be singing Tshabalala, Tshabalala hey hey hey goodbye to the likes of France, Mexico and Uruguay.
  3. Katlego Mphela- He keeps scoring goals during the friendlies, but can he do it on the big stage.

 Schedule

  • 6/11- Mexico
  • 6/16- Uruguay
  • 6/22- France

Odds- 190-1

FIFA Rank- 83

 URUGUAY

It took a playoff to get in against Costa Rica, but hey they’re in.  Uruguay has an immense World Cup history, they’ve won 2 World Cup titles, but that was back in 1930 and 1950.  For Uruguay to rekindle that historical magic, forwards Luis Suarez and Diego Forlon will have to carry the squad.  The question, who will get them the ball?

 Projected Lineup

  •  GK- Fernando Muslera
  • LB- Diego Godin
  • CB- Diego Lugano
  • CB/RB- Andres Scotti
  • RB/RM- Maxi Pereira
  • LM- Alvaro Pereira
  • LCM- Alvaro Gonzalez
  • CM- Walter Gargano
  • RCM/RM- Diego Perez
  • LF- Luis Suarez
  • RF- Diego Forlan

 Off The Pine

  •  D- Martin Caceres
  • M- Nicolas Lodeiro
  • M- Sebastian Eguren

 Formation- 3-5-2/ 4-4-2

 Strategy

Uruguay plays a hard-nosed, physical and aggressive brand of futbol.  The main objective will be for the midfield to get the ball to Suarez and Forlan.  The tandem makes up one of the top striker duos in the tournament.  The question is in goal.  Goaltenders have been shuffled more than songs on the IPOD shuffle.  Coach Tabarez used 4 different goalies in qualifying.  It looks like they settled with Muslera.

 ( Diego Forlan)

3 Players to Watch

  1. Diego Forlan- One of the best strikers in the world, he’s finished as the number 1 goalscorer in La Liga twice and has won a European Golden Boot Award. He likes to play deep, catch the ball with his foot and finish from there.
  2. Luis Suarez- Another underrated striker.  He likes to score his goals playing through-balls from the midfielders.
  3. Walter Gargano- A stocky fella who is your typical central defensive midfielder.  He’s a good tackler and a solid passer.

Schedule

  • 6/11- France
  • 6/16- South Africa
  • 6/22- Mexico

 Odds- 80-1

FIFA Rank- 16

 GAME-BY-GAME PICKS

  1. 6/11 (10:00)-Mexico vs South Africa (SA- 2-1)

Ok,  Houston Texans fans, this is for you guys.  Remember your franchise’s opening contest at home against the Dallas Cowboys.  This is the only game in the United States that I can think of to compare to the anticipation of South Africa’s debut.  The thing is that game wasn’t the 1st game of the World Cup.  And you’re at home. And it’s the first World Cup game in Africa’s history.  For 90 minutes, ALL of Africa and the world will be watching.  South Africa will be ready to rumble!!!

Like the Texans, South Africa doesn’t have the talent that their opponent has.  It doesn’t matter.  Not only does Bamala Bamala have to make a statement for themselves, they have to make a statement FOR ALL OF AFRICA.  Anyway, Houston won their first game against Dallas 19-10.

2. 6/11 (2:30)- France vs Uruguay (0-0)

Historically, France doesn’t get off to good starts in the World Cup.  Their offense has been abysmal.  My question for Uruguay is how they’re going to get the ball to their strikers past France’s midfield and defense. 

3. 6/16 (2:30)- Uruguay vs South Africa (2-2)

After a win against Mexico, the confidence will be installed into the fans, and more importantly, into the players of South Africa.  I see a wide-open attack by both teams and a draw. 

 4. 6/17 (2:30)- France vs Mexico (1-1)

Mexico dominates the game.  Hugo Lloris makes some fantastic saves to keep France in it.  I think Ribery will do something to tie it up late for France.

 5. 6/22 (10:00)-  Mexico vs Uruguay (2-1 Mex)

I believe Mexico’s midfield dominates and gets a must win against Uruguay.

 6. 6/22 (10:00)- France vs South Africa (1-0 Fra)

The experience for France pays off as they score early and hold on for the 1-0 win.

 PROJECTED GROUP RESULTS

  1.  France (5 pts)
  2. South Africa (4 pts)
  3. Mexico (4 pts)
  4. Uruguay (2 pts)
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: