CHARLIE’S CHALK TALK 2010 WORLD CUP PREVIEW- Group G
The heavily stacked Brazilians come in as the second favorite sitting behind Spain. Year in and year out the Brazilian’s are the easy favorite to win the World Cup, and this year is no different. The absence of Ronaldinho from the World Cup squad allows for younger players like Ramires and Nilmar to shine. Much to the dismay of many Brazilians, coach Dunga has changed the overall formation of the once heavily attacking Brazilian national team. The success speaks for itself, as Brazil finished atop their qualifying bracket, and have not missed a beat since Dunga has been appointed.
3 Key Players
Maicon – Maicon is undoubtedly the best Right Back in the World. When watching Maicon play, it’s very easy to forget he is a defender. He has the skill of many attacking midfielders and wingers, but is also capable of closing down offenders in his own box. Maicon may just be the fastest player in the entire tournament. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsCbXu5it6Y)
- Kaka – Kaka had a bit of a disappointing season with Real Madrid, but still possess world class skill. He is a brilliant attacking midfielder and creates many chances for both club and country. He is as strong passing the ball to teammates as he is striking the ball on goal, which makes him a deadly threat whenever he attacks the oppositions box.
- Gilberto Silva – Despite being practically forced out of Arsenal a few years ago, Silva still remains an important part to what the Brazilians do. With Brazilian coach Dunga instilling a more defensive system in Brazil, Gilberto Silva has become even more important. Silva is a defensive midfielder that can keep possession in the middle of the field for his team, but can also disrupt attacks from a defensive stand point. He is an important, if unflashy player for the Brazilians. He won’t throw 5 stepovers at a defender, he won’t bike home a goal, but he will make tackles and distribute the ball to his teammates like a good defensive midfielder should do.
The Elephants have a very intriguing team, and have quality throughout the team. They’re characterized by building the attack up quickly and making piercing runs off the ball to try to beat offside traps. Cote d’Ivoire’s chances however of escaping the group stages dropped considerably when they found out that star striker Didier Drogba suffered a broken hand in a tune up match against Japan. Drogba did so many things for this team, that his lack of presence in the final third of the field will be felt significantly. Without Drogba, Ivory Coast simply cannot take out a stronger pound for pound Portuguese side. I don’t however expect for this team to feel sorry for itself about his loss, as this team is filled with a lot of fighters and strong players. This team got dealt a bad hand in that they’re already in a group with Brazil and Portugal, but also lose their star player in a freak injury right before the World Cup. It really is disappointing because the team really is a strong team, and the hopes of the entire nation rest on this team. The country actually takes a break from fighting a civil war to unite and watch their Elephants play some futbol, and for them to be put into this situation is just terrible. They’re one of my favorite teams in the World to follow, based on their situation in their country and their individual quality within the team. I’m rooting for them to beat Portugal and move on, but I’m just not convinced it’ll happen without the world’s best center forward in Didier Drogba in the squad.
3 Key Players
Salomon Kalou – “He comes here from the Ivory Coast Kalou, Kalou, he don’t do coke like Adrian Mutu, Mutu”! Chelsea’s Salomn Kalou is a fan favorite at Stamford Bridge, and his pace and magic on the ball are just part of what makes him such a danger player on the wing. He relishes the opportunity to take defenders on and then cut inside to crack a shot. He’s a strong player, and unfortunately will have to be asked to the carry the offensive load with the absence of Drogba.
Yaya Toure – Toure is a very experienced player in the center of midfield for Barcelona and Ivory Coast. He’s a tall and physically imposing ball winner who can pass very well for a man of his size. He reads the game exceptionally well, and always seems to put himself in a position to use his big body to win the ball and start a counter attack. He’s a very underrated player that plays a huge part in the success of Barcelona. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXvcSz1-piQ)
Emmanuel Eboue – Eboue is just a solid defender who does his job and does it well. He often doesn’t stick out on the field in large part because he’s a defender and is just doing his job. He’s a clean defender, and has got great technique and versatility to be able to play any of the 4 positions along the backline.
Portugal is led by their dazzling FIFA world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. Portugal is a team that seems to have strong players throughout the team for every competition. Wingback’s Jose Bosingwa and Miguel are among the fastest and most skilled in the world, and offer much going forward with the ball. In the middle of the park lies Deco, who pulls the strings for the Portoguese attack, often spraying balls throughout the park to open teammates. On the wing is Atletico de Madrid’s Simao, who has dipped in form of late, but still is a threat taking defenders on 1 on 1 and from dead ball situations. Portugal is a solid if unspectacular team, and I think they’ll end up having a very similar World Cup to the one they had in 2006 in Germany. I look for Portugal to escape this group and take advantage of Didier Drogba’s absence from Ivory Coast.
3 Key Players
Cristiano Ronaldo – I think Messi has passed him for best player of the world honors, but Ronaldo is still just as dangerous as he has been the past 5 years. I’m not quite sure he’s raised his game since moving to Real Madrid, but I think that’s got more to do with his surrounding cast at Madrid, as opposed to a knock against Ronaldo. His skill on the ball is marvelous to watch, and his speed while dribbling the ball is faster than most players in the world running without the ball. Ronaldo takes free kicks with a certain peculiar, but successful swerve that is now the preferred way to strike a ball from a free kick.
- Deco – Many say the game has passed Deco by, but I still think he’s got the on the ball cleverness and wherewithal to thread some absolute beautiful passes. He’s Portugal’s undeniable creative midfielder and although hasn’t played much at the club level with Chelsea, he’s still got one more go at it this World Cup. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63-YsRBbhcU&feature=fvst)
- Hugo Almeida – Almeida is quietly developing into one of the best center forwards in the world. Werder Bremen’s target forward seems to time his runs perfectly, slipping him in behind the opposing team’s defense. He hits some incredible balls with his left foot with great power, and is more than capable of climbing over defenders to head a ball home. He has a great sense of wear the ball will land, and is thus a huge threat when in the box waiting for a cross to come in. His star will rise after this World Cup.
Where to start with this mystery team. North Korea is the other Korean team in the tournament is largely an unknown quality throughout the world. Little is known about this entire country, so you can imagine how little is known about their national soccer team. This is a team that is made up of soldiers willing to fight for their “way of life.” I wouldn’t put anything past them, and would honestly be a little weary about what they do bring to the table. Nevertheless, they’ve been placed in the most difficult group in the World Cup so how much can they actually scare anyone? 90 % of their players play in the North Korean league which is tough to figure out. This is where it gets tricky, the North Korean soccer league is not allowed to participate in competitions with other Asian teams. The national team, its players, and its league is incredibly isolated. In their few media interviews given during the buildup to the World Cup, the North Korean players were largely considered by the media to be filled with strange cliches, and be very dismissive of Western Culture and teams. Politics aside, I have no idea what to expect from this team on the field. I mean who really knows? This team could have Lionel Messi’s and Carles Puoyl’s littered throughout it’s team, and the rest of the world wouldn’t even know! OK back to reality, they’re going to get demolished, but by how much?
Hong Young Jo – The only player in the entire squad that plays outside of Asia, and also acts as the Korean’s general err I mean captain.