My revised and equally-unfounded World Cup predictions! Group A and B

7 June 2010

Alia iacta est!

Unwisely a reputable newspaper saw fit to air two hundred daft words by me on the subject of this year’s Danish national team. In it I nail my colors to the mast for a Danish appearance in the quarterfinals – at the expense of Italy, at that! Only later did I remember that the last time I did this I said Italy wouldn’t even win the group, which would leave the Paraguayans – minus Salvador Cabañas, who’s busy recovering from an epic headshot – less dramatically feeding my Danish dream.

So in the interest of posting these irreconcilable opinions straight down the memory hole – and with the newfound results of dozens of friendlies/bizarre group job interviews – here are my new Officially Approved Opinions.

Group A… or should I say Group Uhhhhhhhhhnnn

South Africa, France, Mexico, Uruguay; last prediction 1st Mexico 2nd France

I would hand it over, except they've actually stopped paying me

With hindsight, this was not a terribly comfortable prediction.

Make no mistake, France have been terrible – too terrible even for my prediction. Their last match was a shocking 1-0 loss to China (who aren’t good); in 2010 they lost to Spain, drew Tunisia and narrowly bested Costa Rica. Except against Spain it was formulaic as a soap opera: lots of possession, lots of shots and little to show for it. All this against teams they should have totally outclassed. Raymond Domenech responded by saying he was pleased with their progress. And then deciding to keep Alou Diarra, the midfielder who was recently diagnosed with a blood disorder. And then a French minister complained about the lavishness of the team’s lodgings. If they have any good players they’re surely about to fall to an attack of dengue fever. You wonder if the French kind of wish they weren’t going at all.

By contrast South Africa have been a revelation, routing Guatemala, beating my own Danes (*gulp*) and turning in several creditable performances elsewhere. Not bad for Steven Pienaar and the “guys he found at the bus stop,” I think I called them. Their experience playing together is a major advantage versus “better” sides – most of the 23 play locally and they’ve packed 10 friendlies into 2010, getting a result from every one. Uruguay have performed well but in very few recent matches (and carry a whiff of brutality, apparently) while Mexico are on a creditable run: losing narrowly to the Dutch and controversally to the English but beating Italy strongly.

The question is this: could Le Snooze finish fourth? On recent evidence, yes. Domenech still hasn’t settled a formation and in the China game they just seemed indifferent. If anyone impressed (Gourcoff? So much for that new attacking formation), they’re probably about to fall to an attack of colitis or something. By contrast the hosts – and tournament minnows – are desperate to impress and the two Latin sides are capable. The favored French seem well-placed to blow the luckiest draw ever.

Prediction: South Africa and Mexico neck and neck at the top. But this group could feature four teams on four points each. An unexpected group of death?

Group  B – The head of Maradona

Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece; last prediction 1st Argentina 2nd South Korea

Happier times

WHY do they insist on calling South Korea “Korea Republic”? They’re both republics. Difference is one is in the South and the other has no food. It’s ridiculous.

South Korea have continued to dazzle me – the finest friendly I’ve seen in the run up to the World Cup was their meeting with Spain, ending in a late 1-0 win to the favorites after ninety minutes of exciting, attacking, classy play. I don’t know much about the team besides that, with the notable exception of Manchester United attacker Park Ji-Sung, most play or have played in the native K-League and so have had ample opportunity to get adjusted to playing as a unit. (Also they have a terrible chant.) It showed against Spain.

Along with the rest of Africa (save absent Egypt) Nigeria have been dire. Greece are no better. Both could be shut out. The big question is whether Argentina sinks or soars; excluding Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso brought gasps from the world media but nary a peep within the country, per Joel Richards in Football Weekly. That Diego Maradona is unstable is already beyond doubt; whether he is crazy like a fox or mad as a March hare will become clear in the first game against South Korea, but even a falling-apart Argentina would be favored to go through.

Though I don’t like it, Maradona’s crazy like a fox. Not impossible for South Korea to force a draw but Argentina should top the group with the South Koreans coming second.


2 Responses to “My revised and equally-unfounded World Cup predictions! Group A and B”

  1. Joleen Says:

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