Tuesday, 25 May 2010

World Cup Countdown - Group G

Group G


The Brazilian’s head to South Africa after finishing top of the South American qualifying campaign, one point ahead Chile and Paraguay. Many of the “big name” Brazilian stars were left out; with Dunga opting to pick more home based players and players rather than selecting “star names”. Dunga then continued this precedence but leaving players such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Pato, Adriano and Anderson at home. Therefore at this World Cup, Brazil will be looking to win an unprecedented 6th title relying on the likes of regulars Kaka, Robinho, Julio Cesar, Maicon, Dani Alves, Lucio and newer names such as Grafite of Wolfsburg, Nilmar of Villarreal Felipe Melo of Juventus.

Manager: Dunga

The former Brazil captain and midfield general won the 1994 World Cup title, and was a runner up in 1998. Now as a manager, he has been in charge since 2006, and guided Brazil to the confederations cup in 2009 and the 2007 Copa America. Blessed with an array a superstars and a depth of options, expect Brazil to be amongst the big boys this time round (as per usual!)

Key Player: Luis Fabiano

The Green and Yellow’s new number 9 has an excellent goal scoring record netting 25 times in 36 matches for Brazil. He was the top goal scorer for Brazil in the qualifying campaign scoring 9 goals, one behind Humberto Suazo overall. The Sevilla striker is in top form heading into the finals scoring 21 times this season.

Best Finish: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

Prediction: Semi Finals

I believe the Brazilians will be there or there about’s, as they always are, but Dunga’s men will steamroll their way towards the semi’s but fall foul to their lack of match winners (not to discredit Robinho or Kaka) but after a tricky confederations campaign, the Brazilians could be undone by a strong defensive unit.

North Korea

The North Korea side, head to their second finals after a 44 year absence, and a history hindered by political problems means the North Koreans qualification is somewhat of a shock. However they finished runners up to their Southern rivals in their qualifying zone ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Manager: Kim Jong-Hun

Not too much is known on the North Korean, but its evidently clear his squad is made of domestically based players, while according to the official FIFA World Cup website “favours a pragmatic and defensive approach based around discipline and teamwork”.

Key Player: Hong Yong-Jo

The 28 year old plays for FC Rostov in the Russian Premier League and has 3 goals in 30 appearances for the team. He is his nations Captain, and has 11 goals in 39 international appearances. Expected a lot of stamina and hurrying from Jong-Hun, looking to capitalise on defensive lapses.

Best Finish: Quarter Finals 1966

Prediction: Group Stage

They only scored 7 goals in the 8 qualifying matches, and that was against an average array of teams. I expect the team ranked 106th in the World to finish bottom of the group, no points.

Ivory Coast

The West African side are blessed with an array on excellent strong and technically sound players, who are based all over the big leagues in Europe. Players such as Chelsea Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue, brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure, Aruna Dindane, Arouna Kone and many more. The Elephants finished top of their qualifying group, 4 points clear of Burkina Faso and a goal difference of +15. They reached the quarter final of the 2010 African Cup of Nations, leading to the dismissal of former coach Vahid Halihodzic. Now in change, a man well know to English fans, and the former Mexico coach; Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Manager: Sven-Goran Eriksson

The 62 year old is World renowned in the football world, and has previous World Cup and big competition pedigree with England. He has managed clubs such as Roma and Lazio in Italy, Benfica in Portugal as well as clubs in Sweden. He is vastly experienced, and its interesting to see how he will link up with the Ivorian players.

Key Player: Didier Drogba

The star striker has been in sizzling form domestically, leading Chelsea to a league and cup double. Drogba, 32, is a superstar in Africa and one of the best strikers in the world, and if anyone is a match winner, it’s him.

Best Finish: Group Stage 2006

Prediction: Quarter Finals

I think the Cote d’Ivoire side will be the strongest of all the African teams, and use the home advantage to progress the furthest. Drogba, Yaya Toure and Salomon Kalou will need to take their chances in order for the Elephants to progress. There get through the group stage by topping Portugal on goal difference.


The Portuguese may have some of the most gifted and technically brilliant players, as well as one of the best players in the world, in Cristano Ronaldo, but the Selecção das Quinas continuously struggled to qualify and had to do so via the playoffs. They beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 on aggregate.

Manager: Carlos Queiroz

Former Real Madrid manager and Man United managing assistant, has been in charge since 2008, and is notorious for nurturing young talent. Despite struggling to top their qualifying, finishing behind Denmark, a team boasting players such as Simao, Bruno Alves, Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, Nani, Liedson and Danny, should be able to beat any of the top teams in the world, but inconsistency and a lack of cohesion tends to hinder their progress.

Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo

The Former World Player of the World and current Portugal captain; Ronaldo has had an excellent season at his new club Real Madrid, despite his settling in period being hampered by injury. He scored 26 goals in 29 appearances this season, and already has 70 caps for Portugal, at just 25 years of age. Expect Ronaldo to carry his team far, but the start will be most important factor for the Portuguese.

Best Finish: Third Place 1966

Prediction: Group Stage/Semi finals

I see it going one way of another. The Portuguese have enough attacking options to beat any side in the World, but aforementioned cohesive and teamwork issues may cause them to fall away unnoticed in a very very difficult group. A mouth watering match against Brazil awaits.

Up Next; Group H

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