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Brazil National Football Team LogoPlay in Group G of this year’s World Cup competition promises to be some of the most exciting soccer of the tournament. Group G finds five times champions  Brazil paired with Portugal, Cote d’Ivoire, and North Korea. Three of these teams rightfully should move on but only two can. Brazil is the favourite in this group going away but Ivory Coast and Portugal will provide a challenge.

Brazil has been and will continue to be a major force in World Football. This year’s side is no exception. There is very little weakness in their game and they should cruise through unscathed. Portugal will be a worthy challenge for the Brazilians but in the end, they will be fortunate to make it through the group stage. Ivory Coast has a great deal of talent as they displayed during qualification and should be very competitive in this group. We will see if all the talent in this squad can form a competitive unit and make it past the group stage.

The North Koreans have only one prior world cup showing, that in 1966. Their modern success comes from a solid defence but their attacking options may be a bit lacking when it comes to competing against others in this group. They accomplished a major upset in the ’66 games and we’ll have to wait to see if history can repeat itself.

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Italy National Football Team LogoThe big story from Group F in this year’s World Cup may well be who finishes second. It is doubtful that any of the other teams in this group will be able to deny the defending champions and four time champions Italy from defending their crown. The side from Paraguay will do their best but will probably fall short. New Zealand will be outmatched and the Slovakians lack the star players with international experience to give the Italians a run for their money.

The real competition in group F will be between Slovakia and Paraguay. Slovakia is making their first appearance as an independent nation in this year’s tournament but as part of the Czech republic, has had plenty of World Cup experience. The Paraguay side qualified by finishing third in the South American group stage behind Brazil and Chile. These two will battle head to head on 20 June most likely for second place and a chance to advance. The Italian team is currently ranked 4th in the FIFA rankings and are a powerful force in international soccer. There are some new faces on this team but the Italians have been successful over the years in international competition. We look for the Italians to advance certainly, as well as the Paraguay team to round 2.

Netherlands Football Logo
Group E may well be the most contested group of the opening round of this year’s World Cup. The Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon will do battle for the chance to advance.

The Japanese team was the first to punch their ticket to the finals but lack an aggressive list of strikers The Japanese also have had problems matching up against more physical teams. Denmark will be looking to stay past the first round relying on their strong mid fielders and wing play but may be hampered by a lack of proven goal scorers.

The Netherlands have yet to drop a goal in their qualifying bid going 8-0 which should make them the favourites of this group. Cameroon has high hopes for this year’s tournament and has a lot of momentum going their way. They are solid in all facets of the game and the only thing that might derail this side is their youth and lack of experience in international play.

After a hotly contested round of group play, we look for the Netherlands and Cameroon to advance.

Germany Football LogoGroup D of this year’s World Cup competition may well be the most difficult group of all. The Germans would have to be the clear favourites with three previous titles and four runner up appearances. They are a perennial powerhouse in the World Cup play and are expected to advance to the second round. The Germans are a physical, disciplined side and tend to excel in World Football.

Note, however, that the Germans, although the clear favourites in this group, will have a fight on their hands. Ghana, Serbia, and Australia will all be nipping at the German heels hoping to derail the reigning third place team. All three of these teams had a fairly easy time of qualifying and pretty much dominated their qualifying tournaments.

The Aussies are a very disciplined squad but goal scoring has been a problem for them of late. Serbia has a strong defence but lack depth in attacking opportunities and Ghana is loaded with talent and has few weaknesses. This is a highly competitive group and these matches should be some of the best in group play.

Look for the Germans and Ghana to advance.

England Football EmblemGroup C in this year’s World Cup contains England, the United States, Algeria, and Slovenia. The match on June 12 between England and US marks the highlight of this group. One would think that England would have this group sewn up already and they may well have but since World War II, England has only won the World Cup once and only made it past the quarter finals one other time. Add to that the fact that the US has upset England on previous occasions and it has the makings of a grand spectacle in World Cup. The strength of the English side is coaching and tactics but they experience minor weaknesses in just about every facet of their game.

The US still feels like it has something to prove on the World Cup stage and will bring their entire arsenal to bear this year in hopes of proving to the World that they are indeed a rising football power. The US squad is scrappy and has the talent to compete with anyone but at times struggles to score goals. We look for both England and The US to advance but they will have competition.

Algeria had a difficult qualifying route but prevailed nonetheless. They are a solid young squad but the main difficulty they face is playing away from home. Since 2003, they have only won two away games and they must overcome this fact if they expect to advance.

Slovenia has only qualified for the finals on one other occasion but they are hoping that their solid defense can help them advance past the group round. Depth can be a problem for this squad so they hope to keep their starters healthy at least for the initial matches.

Look for England and the United States to advance from this group.

Argentina National Football Team LogoGroup B contenders Korea and Greece will have their hands full against Argentina and Nigeria in this year’s World Cup competition. Korea qualified fairly easily for the finals this year by winning four of their last five qualifying matches. That being said, the Koreans are lacking in depth and there is a gulf between the regulars and the substitutes. Greece had a difficult time qualifying despite having a fairly easy draw in the UEFA zone. They have a solid defence but are unimaginative and hesitant going forward and we don’t expect them to get to the second round.

Argentina finished fourth in the South American qualifying zone with a narrow 1–0 win against Uruguay in the last match of the tournament. Argentina don’t have a coherent style but with players of individual brilliance with Messi considered by many to be the best player in the world things could happen. Nigeria has an attack style of play, which should serve them well in group B competition.

We look for the Argentina and Nigeria to advance from this group to the second round.

Fédération Française de FootballGroup A for this year’s World Cup competition contains the host team, South Africa. The home crowd will be rooting for their favourite sons but they are facing some stiff competition from Mexico, France, and Uruguay. The French qualified in a play-off against The Republic of Ireland, as did the Uruguay team against Costa Rica. Mexico finished second in CONCACAF behind USA.

The French would have to be seen as the favourites of group A although they don’t seem to be as strong as in recent years. The next favourite would have to be Mexico who are strong in midfield but lack the fire power upfront. They will have a tough opening fixture against the host country, which under the circumstances might prove to be difficult. The Uruguay team is young and somewhat inexperienced but always gives 100% in their matches. They rely on a core group of players and we would be mildly surprised if they survive to the second round.

Our picks for advancement to the second round: France and Mexico