COTE D'IVOIRE (FIFA RANKING: 27)
The best of the African teams despite being only the third ranked African side, and will battle with Portugal for a place in the last 16. They'll play some attractive football no doubt, but not much of that will be in defense, despite having Eboue and Kolo Toure at the back. Expect them to let in a couple of sloppy goals. Up front there's Drogba, who despite making a case for being the best striker in the world, is a massive, massive diver.
Joining the party up front is Chelsea team-mate Kalou who is coming off a pretty good season of his own. It's always fun watching the Elephants, but you wouldn't really ever want your money on them to go really deep in a World Cup, particularly when they have to knock over Brazil or Portugal in the group stages.
PORTUGAL (FIFA RANKING: 3)
Another team at South Africa 2010 with some depth in their talent stocks, Portugal were far from convincing in qualifying and in a recent friendly against Cape Verde.
With attacking players like Ronaldo, Simao, Deco and Nani, and with quality defenders in Carvalho, Ferreira and Alves, it's hard to understand how they could make football look difficult at times. Like France though, they seem to get their shit sorted when there's a World Cup on. The match against Cote d'Ivoire decides who's going through...it also has the potential to be one of the matches of the tournament if Portugal come to the party.
NORTH KOREA (FIFA RANKING: 105)
Despite North Korea's strong history in World Cups where star striker Kim Jong-Il scored many goals against Brazil and the likes, they are gonna get f'd in the a big time here. Kim Jong-Il later went on to win the British Masters and the F1 Driver's Championship too according to North Korean folklore:
But without him, they are going to suffer death by football skillz three times over. That is all. They'll be feeling like this after the Cup:
BRAZIL (FIFA RANKING: 1)
I don't need to tell you that Brazil are the business. Everyone knows that. They'll win this group and are my tip to win the tournament. And not because they are Brazil and score a lot of goals. They also have a strong defensive unit led by the beastly Lucio, along with his Inter team-mates Maicon and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The goals will come from Fabiano and Robinho, assisted by the likes of Kaka, Melo, Baptista and Elano. They have incredible depth at every position; when you can leave Ronaldinho out of the squad, and Gomes, who was absolutely heroic for Tottenham last season, can only make back-up goalkeeper...wow. You'd be thinking they'd be keen to atone for the un-Brazilian rubbish campaign that was Germany 2006, and I shudder to think what they are going to do to North Korea in this group. They are gonna royally f them in the a. Ouch.
PREDICTION: Brazil to win the group and Portugal's big tournament experience to sneak them past Cote d'Ivoire. Drogba to dive his way to the "most dives in the group stages" category.
|Match||Date||Venue||Team 1||Team 2||Kick-off (AEST)|
|13||16 June||Nelson Mandela Bay||Ivory Coast||Portugal||00:00|
|14||16 June||Johannesburg||Brazil||North Korea||04:30|
|29||21 June||Johannesburg||Brazil||Ivory Coast||04:30|
|30||21 June||Cape Town||Portugal||North Korea||21:30|
|46||26 June||Nelspruit||North Korea||Ivory Coast||00:00|