With the World Cup 2010 in South Africa starting on June 11 I thought it was about time to offer some predictions for what will happen in the tournament. Overall I do not think that there will be many surprises in this tournament such as South Korea in 2002 or Greece at Euro 2004.
I believe that the only real surprise in this tournament will be France under the much maligned Raymond Domenech. I feel they will win their group and actually make it all the way to the Semi-Final. In the spirit of speculation I have gone through my tournament planner and have predicted the run all the way from the Round of 16 to the winners.
Round of 16
Match 1 (1A vs. 2B): France vs. Nigeria – I think that France will have enough to overcome Nigeria, who I believe will struggle with the pace and technique of the French side.
Match 2 (1B vs. 2A): Argentina vs. Uruguay – This could well be the match of the round with teo fluid attacking teams facing off against each other. I just feel that Argentina will have too much for Uruguay whose defense leaves a lot to be desired.
Match 3 (1C vs. 2D): England vs. Serbia – A very tough one to call and the second round could not be much more difficult for England. I am not sure whether it is nationalist pride overrunning reality but I think that England have enough experience to come through this game by the odd goal.
Match 4 (1D vs. 2C): Germany vs. USA – Germany are certainly not great and the USA are a rising force with some excellent match winners. However Germany almost always perform on the big stage and I fancy their chances of going through in this match.
Match 5 (1E vs. 2F): Netherlands vs. Paraguay – I would imagine that the Dutch have enough to win this game. Paraguay are always a difficult team to beat but the Netherlands have enough quality running through their side to progress.
Match 6 (1F vs. 2E): Italy vs. Cameroon – Dirty, old Italy should have too much experience and nous to come out on top against Cameroon, but they will certainly cause problems.
Match 7 (1G vs. 2H): Brazil vs. Chile – Another contender for game of the round with the solidity and skill of Brazil coming up against Chile’s lovely fluid and attacking 3-3-3-1 system. I cannot see past the Brazilians for this one though.
Match 8 (1H vs. 2G): Spain vs. Portugal – And now perhaps the most mouthwatering tie…CR9 vs. Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, and Torres. Should be a cracker and if Spain’s players are all fit they should have enough to overcome this most testing of matches. If Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, and Fabregas are all carrying injuries this could be the biggest upset of the tournament. Due to the troubles in qualification Portugal are not rated particularly highly but they will certain push Spain all the way. If they were not playing the Spanish I could easily see them in the Semi’s.
Match A (1 vs. 3): France vs. England – A real test for both teams but I just think man for man France have the edge and will knock England out in their customary Quarter Final place. Even if this goes to penalties this would be a decent victory for the French who by this stage will have achieved far more than expected.
Match B (2 vs. 4): Argentina vs. Germany – Another very difficult match to predict but I think Argentina will get their revenge for 2006 by knocking out the Germans. A game for Leo Messi to shine one thinks.
Match C (5 vs. 7): Netherlands vs. Brazil – What a game this will be. The Dutch will be very tough opponents for Brazil but I think their firepower, midfield solidity and excellent manager will be enough for Brazil to edge this.
Match D (6 vs. 8): Italy vs. Spain – A repeat of the Euro 2008 Semi-Final and I think that the outcome will be the same: Spain to win, although I do not think it will take penalties to go through.
Match I (A vs. C): France vs. Brazil – The end of the road for the French with Raymond Domenech going out after a creditable performance against the Brazilians. A game for the purists with some brilliant players on show and contrasting styles.
Match II (B vs. D): Argentina vs. Spain – What a potential match. Could easily be the best game of the whole tournament although that rarely happens when there is so much to lose. Messi, Aguero, and Higuan up against their Spanish buddies should be a brilliant spectacle. I fancy a Spanish victory here as they have overcome every challenge put in front of them over the last few years.
France vs. Argentina – Who cares? But if I had guess I would say France will end up coming 3rd, which would leave Domenech with a record of 2nd and 3rd in his two World Cup finals. Not bad for a terrible manager huh?
Brazil vs. Spain – Brazil World Champions for a sixth time. What a final this could be and what a potential tournament. South Africa 2010 could well be remembered as one of the best tournaments of all time if the games I have predicted live up to their billing. I feel that as good as the Spanish are (and they have some significant tests to overcome to get here) they will not be able to live with the organization of the Brazilians.