It’s coming. The big one. The one we’ve all been waiting for.
This summer, 32 of the best national teams are headed to host country South Africa to compete for soccer‘s most prized trophy – the World Cup. This time round it’s the 19th series, and the competition is looking more fierce than ever.
There are the repeat qualifiers in as usual – Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina (and the more powerful than ever, Spain), but along side them are the up-and-comers, like Greece, and also, the USA, all capable of surprising the soccer world.
As usual, in addition to these teams, there’s the usual slurry of hopeful dreamers – Nigeria, Mexico and rest of them.
With the groups now settled, and the draw complete, we now await squad announcements coming around mid-May, and after that, the tournament begins, starting on the 11th May.
Current World Ranking: 86
Being hosts does have it’s advantages – as if South Africa do get knocked out in the early stages (which is looking increasingly likely), at least the travel home is next to nothing.
South Africa is looking exceptionally weak – in the 2006 Africa Cup, the team failed to accumulate a single goal before being eliminated.
Even with new manager Carlos Alberto Parreira, things are still looking glum. However, after placing 4th out of 8 in the recent Confederations Cup, they may exceed expectations, and surprise.
Current World Ranking: 15
After the replacement of shaky coach Sven-Goran Erikksson, with Javier Aguirre, the Mexican side is looking better than ever. Even team captain Marquez has praised Aguirre’s ‘no-nonsense’ attitude, which he believes has greatly improved the play.
The players themselves on the Mexican team are looking sharper than ever too – Barcelona’s prized defender Rafael Marquez leading the team, and strong attackers – Arsenal’s Carlos Vela, and West Ham’s Guillermo Franco, the Mexicans look to pose a threat on the field.
Current World Ranking: 19
Uruguay are looking particularly unstable this year with a record of 6 wins, 6 losses and 6 draws.
However, whilst consistency may be one of Uruguay’s main troubles, they do have a few golden moments, many coming from star player Diego Forlan, striker for Athletico Madrid.
However, the rest of the team is less amazing, and may fail to perform under pressure. Only time will tell whether Uruguay can push through their inconsistent play.
Current World Ranking: 7
France qualified with a rather controversial start – the one goal lead they needed created by a blatant handball by Thierry Henry.
As controversial as it may be, France are going to South Africa in the summer, and with a very-strong line up – Manchester United‘s Evra, Chelsea’s Anelka, Gallas of Arsenal, Real Madrid‘s Lassana, Bayern Munich‘s Ribery, and to top it all off, Barcelona’s Thierry Henry. What a team, hey?
Despite this, eyes are all on coach Domenech, who is noted to be the reason why France continuously under-achieve, despite this line-up, and for the first time in a very long while, France are not one of the favorites to win.