World Cup Preview – Part 2

5 Jun

The Renwick Pundit continues his team-by-team preview of this year’s World Cup…

Group C

Algeria

The Desert Foxes qualified for their first World Cup since 1986 with a 1-0 playoff victory over bitter rivals Egypt. A creditable fourth place at the African Nations earlier this year disguises a team beset with defensive frailties and an over-reliance on Karim Ziani for creativity.

Info for non-fans: A team of little interest for the casual viewer, sadly. The absence of Khamel Ghilas has robbed us of a few good puns.

Ben’s one to watch: Nadir Belhadj – an attacking full back, kind of like the rich man’s me.

Prediction: Having recently lost 3-0 to the Ireland C team, they look a poor outfit. Expect the Desert Foxes to be left high and dry. Group Stage.

England

Managed for the first time since 1990 by a man with a degree of sanity, for a while Capello’s England had us worried that they might actually have a chance of winning the thing. Things have recently returned to normality however, with friendly performances being poor at best. Have a genuine match winner in Rooney, but with a non-combative midfield and Brave John Terry at the back, they could come unstuck against a decent side.

Info for non-fans: Those dreadful ads are reason enough to cheer against England. Although thankfully we’ve been spared Rio’s World Cup Wind-ups this time around.

Ben’s one to watch: Glen Johnson – the right-footed rich man’s me.

Prediction: A straightforward group should see them progress comfortably, but one feels that a good team would exploit their weaknesses. Quarter-finalists.

USA

The USA soccerball team is a rising star on the international stage, and impressed in last summer’s Confederations Cup, beating Spain and finishing as runners-up to Brazil. With a healthy mix of experienced pros and talented youngsters, they’ve been tipped as dark horses by many.

Info for non-fans: USA are definitely the team with the best extra-curricular interests. Winger DaMarcus Beasley recently launched a range of jewellery, called The DaMarcus Collection. Clint Dempsey is a rapper in his spare time, using the stage name Juice. Reserve keeper Marcus Hahnemann enjoys driving lorries for fun.

Ben’s one to watch: Freddy Adu – the next big thing.

Prediction: Have a real chance this year of going far, but fail to win the group and they face a potential second round tie with Germany, which may prove a bridge too far. Second round.

Slovenia

Not to be confused with near-namesakes Slovakia, the nation of just 2 million will play in their second World Cup. Don’t be put off by the lack of household names; Slovenia are a technical side who play attractive possession football, and gave England a right good scare in a friendly last September.

Info for non-fans: Slovenia are clear winners of the title of best kit. Check out their home and away strips. The must-have shirt of this World Cup.

Ben’s one to watch: The only one I’ve vaguely heard of is Robert Koren

Prediction: A decent enough side, but will need to beat one of USA or England to progress, and that looks unlikely. Group stage.

Group D

Australia

The flamin’ mongrels qualified comfortably, despite leaving made-up continent Oceania to join Asia. Still retain a sense of injustice over 2006’s crucial (and correct) penalty decision against Italy. Future competitors in the RP World 5-a-side Tournament (due to be held in Ballyclabber). Stone the flamin’ crows, Sheila!

Info for non-fans: Unsurprisingly for a nation of convicts, the Aussies are a team of hatchet men. Expect some tasty neck-high, two-footed tackles from the likes of Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill and Vince Grella.

Ben’s one to watch: Lucas Neill – only he has injured more people on the football pitch than I have.

Prediction: May find it tough in a strong group, and, other than Tim Cahill, it’s hard to see where the goals will come from. Group stage.

Germany

Injuries have robbed Germany of anything remotely resembling a defensive midfielder. Nevertheless, they are tournament specialists, and the Nationalmannschaft have a fantastic amount of talent at their disposal, and Mario Gómez. Still, a tough group will provide them with a stern early test.

Info for non-fans: Sadly retired, but we’ll mention him anyway…ex-goalkeeper Mad Jens Lehmann rivals el Diego in the crazy stakes. Earlier this season, he stole a fan’s glasses and refused to give them back. The fan’s crime? Asking “Jens, why can’t you just be normal?” Has now flown his helicopter off into the sunset.

Ben’s one to watch: Mario Gómez is a natural goalscorer.

Predictions: Always turn on the form when the time is right. However, probably lack that one special player to take them that bit further. Klose, but no cigar. Semi-finalists.

Ghana

The Black Stars have probably the best squad of any of the African nations, even without nap-specialist Michael Essien. However, a recent change of coach after failing to win the African Cup of Nations has not helped team cohesion. Keeper Richard Kingson is a bit of a weak link.

Info for non-fans: Expect to hear the Ghanians being stereotypically described as “strong”, “quick” and “athletic”. Alan Hansen will be the chief offender.

Ben’s one to watch: Kevin Prince-Boateng will be looking to forget his nearly-scored penalty in the FA Cup Final.

Prediction: Strong, quick and athletic, the Ghanians have the best chance of success among the Africans. Will need to win the group though if they have ambitions of lifting the trophy. Second round.

Serbia

Another dark horse, Serbia were looking good until they slumped to a defeat against no-hopers New Zealand, causing a riot among their fans. Still, they have a world-class centre half in Vidic, and some impressive attacking talent in Stankovic, Krasic and Zigic.

Info for non-fans: Keep your eyes peeled for Nikola Zigic, who stands at 6 feet 8 inches.

Ben’s one to watch: Milos Krasic – will win player of the tournament, before going on to eclipse Riise as the best player of all time.

Prediction: The New Zealand defeat suggests all is not well in the camp. A tough group will accentuate any instability. Second round.

Part three will be posted on Monday.

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One Response to “World Cup Preview – Part 2”

  1. Fraser Mitchell June 14, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    I think this years could see the Netherlands run out winners. Even though Germany looked pretty special last night, there is always at least one side that looks amazing early doors and then slips up against a lesser team – England maybe? There is normally one side that starts off slowly and gets better before running out winners too…

    Having said that the prospect of facing Germany on the next round doesn’t fill me with optimism so lets hope we stick a few away in the next couple of games!!

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