The World Cup is fast approaching and now with all the major European seasons coming to an end fans of rival clubs all join together to support their nation as they attempt to win the World Cup. Football is indeed a national obsession and also a religion to many die hard supporters.A lot of places in England, which is where I am from is full of houses with the national flag hanging from the windows and usually when the tournament kicks off many fans wearing the national strip and you also see fans with the flag painted on their face.
Whatâ€™s special about this years World Cup (as if it wasn't already) is that for the first time ever the World Cup will be on African soil. The matches will definitely have an atmosphere unlike any other and South Africa has many great stadiums such as Ellis Park in Johannesburg, which hosted the Rugby World Cup Final in 1995. The Final of this years FIFA World Cup will be held at the new 94,700 capacity Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. The other cities that will be used are Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Nelspruit
What is to be expected at this years World Cup? Well history will tell you that the favourites for this years World Cup is Brazil. Brazil are the only team ever to win the Would Cup outside their own continent. Brazil have not been as exciteing to watch in recent years under their coach Dunga but they have been more effective in areas such as defence and the have one of the best goalkeepers in the world Julio Cesar. However Dunga has contraversially left out both Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato.
Spain are also considered one of the favourites and thatâ€™s not surprising considering how strong they was at Euro 2008. Key players such as Iker Casillas, Carles Puyol, AndrÃ©s, Iniesta Xavi, Cesc FÃ bregas, David Villa, Fernando Torres, Pedro RodrÃguez and David Silva to name a few have all been selected to be in the 23-man squad. Argentina are also considered a threat because of players such as Messi and Milito but some of the squad selections from Diego Maradona have been baffling. Also Argentina were terrible in the qualifiers and just narrowly qualified after beating Uruguay in the last match. Holland also have an outside chance and two key players Arjen Robben and Wesley Snijber both appeared in this years Champions League Final. England arrive with high expectations from the fans because of an almost perfect qualifying campaign but there has been issues threatening to tear the team apart such as the John Terry scandal and as usual England have many injury problems going into the tournament.
The world champions Italy have not looked as strong as they did four years ago because none of the big clubs in Serie A have brought enough young players forward, and Germany could also struggle now that Michael Ballack has been ruled out of the squad because of an injury he suffered at the Wold Cup.
Here is how I think the tournament could unfold.
1. France, 2. South Africa, 3. Mexico, 4. Uruguay
South Africa are the underdogs of this group but the hosts at the World Cup often go further than expected and also get favorable decisions from the referee. France look the most likely to win this group in my opinion but they have not looked good since reaching the Final four years ago and crashed out early in Euro 2008. They rely too much on players that used to be the best back in the 1998-2000 seasons.
1. Argentina, 2. Nigeria, 3. Greece, 4. South Korea.
Argentina definitely look a threat in this competition but they could just as easily crash out at this stage. This group is not as easy as people make out as Nigeria are closer to home than the other three and they have a lot of talented young players. Greece are also a team that could take a few people by surprise like they have done in the past.
1. England, 2. USA, 3. Slovenia, 4. Algeria.
England are favorites to take first place and I definitely think they will without any trouble in this group. This group is almost too easy and that might come as a disadvantage in the second round.
1. Ghana, 2. Serbia, 3. Germany, 4. Australia.
This is a very tough group to call and now Germany has suffered the devastating loss of Michael Ballack, I think they may crash out of the tournament in the group stages. All four teams in this group are capable of qualifying.
1. Holland, 2.Â Cameroon, 3. Denmark, 4. Japan.
Very difficut group to call. I think Holland will qualify in first place but Itâ€™s difficult to call who will finish second I would slightly favour Cameroon to take it.
1. Italy, 2. Paraguay, 3. Slovakia, 4. New Zealand.
I really canâ€™t see Italy winning the World Cup this time but they should have no trouble getting out of this group along with Paraguay.
1. Brazil, 2. Portugal, 3. Ivory Coast, 4. North Korea.
Brazil are favorites to win the World Cup but they have been drawn in a very difficult group. Portugal and Ivory Coast are their opponents in the opening wound and I think it could be between Portugal amd Ivory Coast to take second very tough to call.
1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Switzerland, 4. Honduras.
Spain should have no trouble reaching the second round in this group. The battle for second place will be close to call between Chile, Switzerland and Honduras. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if Spain wins the group with 9 points and the other three are tied with 3.
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