SPAIN (FIFA RANKING: 2)
Obviously one of the main chances to win the World Cup in South Africa, and, as such, will take care of this lot. They are deserving Cup favourites but I just have this feeling that they'll fall short. Whether they can go all the way or not, the one thing that's for sure is that you'll want to watch all their games. Torres and Villa up front. Service from Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Alonso. Guys almost as good on the bench. Should be good fun people. And they clearly have the most versatile squad, which optimises their chances of taking home the Cup. In fact, the more I think about this squad, the more I think they are going to win the whole tournament. At the start of this paragraph I had the feeling that they'd fall just short...but upon closer inspection, and with some of their cracking goals in qualifying playing in the background here on Destination South Africa, well I've changed my mind. They can totally win it all. As for this group, they could probably sneak through it with all the players they've left at home...
Another party bus tour for the Spaniards?!?
SWITZERLAND (FIFA RANKING: 24)
I still haven't forgiven the Swiss for their part in the worst World Cup match I've ever seen and am ever likely to see, that being the footballing disgrace that was Switzerland vs Ukraine (round of 16, Germany 2006). Neither team even remotely tried to win in the most negative and unattractive football match I've ever seen. Period. And then they lost the penalty shootout 3-0. A total softcock performance. To think if we had of got past Italy, that Ukraine was waiting to be thrashed......anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the Professor loathes Switzerland with a passion for charging him $20AU for a McValue Meal. The Swiss qualified top in their European group ahead of Greece but since then have managed just one draw from 4 home games. I'm not expecting much from them, they'll probably look upon their clash with Honduras as winnable but I see Spain and Chile being far too strong. Players to watch are striker and captain Alexander Frei and staunch defender Phillipe Senderos.
CHILE (FIFA RANKING: 18)
A team who may be a bit under-rated heading into the Cup but not by myself. Finishing 2nd in South American qualifying means they are a serious football side and one that could go deep into the business end of the tournament if they get hot, pardon the pun. Chilean football is probably best known for the Roberto Rojas Scandal, where goalkeeper Rojas faked that he been hit with a firework, cut up his face with a razor concealed in his glove, was ordered by his coach to stay on the field until dramatically stretchered off, which led to his team being ordered off the field by their captain. A false medical report was then submitted by their phony team doctor. The point of this fanciful and desperate charade was to avoid losing to Brazil in a World Cup qualifier, a result that would have knocked Chile out of contention, and basically to get Brazil sanctioned for the fireworks "attack" sending Chile to the Cup. It backfired spectacularly with them effectively being booted out of any possible participation in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, and life bans all round. Anyways, they are back on the big stage and my tip is that they'll be joining Spain in the knockout stages. While they may not be household names yet, players to watch are Arturo Vidal, Mattias Fernandez, Mark Gonzalez, Humberto Suazo and Alexis Sanchez.
HONDURAS (FIFA RANKING: 38)
Tottenham star Wilson Palacios has a great attitude going into the World Cup: "It doesn't hurt to dream". And by dreaming, he doesn't just mean dreaming of the second round, he means winning the World Cup...Joining Palacios in Mission Impossible is evergreen 36 year old striker Carlos Pavon, who was Honduras' leading goalscorer in qualifying. Pavon is pretty old but spare a thought for Hendry Thomas:
Honduras are a handy team, who hopefully will have a real crack and punish the Swiss for their over-priced McValue meals, but I fancy that Chile will get the better of them and the dream will still be just that...
PREDICTION: Spain and Chile to progress.
|Match||Date||Venue||Team 1||Team 2||Kick-off (AEST)|
|31||22 June||Nelson Mandela Bay||Chile||Switzerland||00:00|