Now you can begin to get those bets in order. Not much else—the 2010 World Cup is still seven months away. But with yesterday’s draw, we now at least have some idea of what matches will be on display. Obviously, the one that jumps out to folks here is US v. England, because it’s still 1812. Anywho, here’s a group-by-group breakdown to give you something to think about until June.
Note for all y’all smart dumb cats: First place in each group advances to the round of 16 where they play the runners-up of the corresponding group (A-B, C-D, E-F, G-H) and vice versa.
GROUP A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Those lucky French fucks. First, they handball their way into the tournament. And now, Les Blues have a free ride into the second round, going up against also-rans in Uruguay and automatic top seed South Africa (‘cause the matches are gonna be played there, you see). There is that bit of history of host countries advancing further (prime example: South Korea, deadening example: US, naturally), but that would require the host nation to have more skill players than just oft-injured winger Steven Pienaar.
GROUP B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Argentina will win this group even if Maradona’s continues to coach as if in the midst of one of his rum and coc’ hazes. Both Greece and South Korea have decent recent histories in major tourneys, but the likes of Park Ji-Sung and Kostas Katsouranis are not match-winners, just shitty tacklers. Obafemi Martins and Peter Odemwingie, on the other hand, can turn a match on its head in Nigeria’s favor.
GROUP C: England, US, Algeria, Slovenia
Ahh, America, the only team y’all probably care about—besides Brazil, goddamn bandwagoners. To America’s credit, though, they happen to suck somewhat less than Algeria and Slovenia (sorry Slo-whatevers, I can’t name a single player), so they should advance. To Egypt’s credit, Algeria only qualified because the Pharoahs choked. England tops, y’all!
GROUP D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
This right here is its own minor “group of death” (more on that later). For Australia’s golden generation, it’s the last chance for Kewell and co. to accomplish something actually worthy of said title. Germany is Germany, except not really because for once, they can’t find a competent striker. Thomas Muller could be the answer, only if he makes the squad and then ends up performing like Lukas Podolski did in ’06. And Serbia has enough quality peppered throughout the squad (Vidic, Stankovic). But on African soil, Ghana should prevail. Most likely operating out of a 4-3-3, Ghana will have one of the best midfields on show with Essien, Appiah (if healthy) and Muntari, as well as a strong pool of young talent to tap into, with Ghana the reigning U-20 World Cup champs.
GROUP E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Holland and Cameroon will qualify, with the latter favored due to also kinda sorta being on home soil. Sound in defense, Cameroon’s only worry will be linkage of play to Samuel Eto’o upfront. Holland presents a polar opposite. They don’t teach defense in Dutch academies anymore (at least not since Jaap Stam last reared his bald head, nhjic). Instead, lessons in diving (looking at you Arjen Robben) and cutesy ball skills a la Bergkamp are the norm in Nederland. So, they might score a ton of goals, but concede just a shade less. They hope. Japan and Denmark are there only to make up numbers.
GROUP F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Fuckin’ Eye-ties © Vinnie Jones. It seems as if the shittier you played in qualifying, the easier the draw. Italy barely made it in due to having to rely on Alberto Gilardino (quite the world-beater at Milan, ay?) and their coach’s refusal to call-up the country’s two best strikers in Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano, the latter of which is certified Artest-status. Then there’s Slovakia, New Zealand (who knew they played soccer there?), and Paraguay, who are all just happy to fucking be there. For second, it’s a toss-up between Slovakia and Paraguay in the group that no one will remember a single match from.
GROUP G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Runner-up: Ivory Coast
The actual “Group of Death.” Brazil’s the best in the world, but the squad just might get distracted by all the Brazilan broads readily available to bang (see: Ronaldinho in ’06). Portugal can’t play with Cristiano because then everyone else stops—and you know they won’t be benching the world’s best. So Ivory Coast, the best in Africa (TBD ultimately at the upcoming African Cup of Nations) might be the one to win the group. They’ll have to rely heavily on Didier “The Diving Cheat But Goddamn the Man’s a Fucking Beast” Drogba, but he can shoulder the pressure. Level pegging, pretty much. Oh, as for North Korea, they’re just fucked—goal difference of -10, at least.
GROUP H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile
Spain might manage a goal difference of +10, in a group offering absolutely no competition. The Swiss will finish as bridesmaid, only because of their balanced midfield including Fernandes, Inler, and Barnetta (and not much else), while Chile and Honduras will just try their best to save face.