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My pick? I’ll take …

June 9, 2010 | 12:28 pm 2
By Shaun Schafer
The World Cup starts on Friday, so here are my picks of the teams to make it out of the group stage and on to the World Cup finals.
Group A
1. Mexico
2. France
Group B
1. Argentina
2. Nigeria
Group C
1. England
2. United States
Group D
1. Germany
2. Ghana
Group E
1. Netherlands
2. Denmark
Group F
1. Italy
2. Paraguay
Group G
1. Brazil
2. Portugal
Group H
1. Spain
2. Chile
2nd Round
Mexico beats Nigeria
Argentina beats Uruguay
England beats Serbia
Germany beats USA
Netherlands beats Paraguay
Italy beats Denmark
Brazil beats Chile
Spain beats Portugal
England beats Mexico
Argentina beats Germany
Netherlands beat Brazil
Spain beats Italy
England beats Netherlands
Spain beats Argentina
Spain beats England
Spain wins its first world title.
Why I’m Wrong: OK, there’s my rundown. There are some dark horse possibilities. In Group A, France has a chance, but seems to be fading. Also, the host South Africans are in Group A and no host has ever failed to advance out of the group stage. However, that record is about to end.
In Group B, South Korea might get by Nigeria. However, South Korea has steadily regressed since 2002, and Nigeria gets the home continent advantage.
In Group C, some people like Algeria to upend the US. I don’t see it happening. England is the class of the group and the US should come in second. Slovenia is compact and disciplined, but lacks firepower.
In Group D, Some like Serbia to win the group. For me, the Serbs will be lucky to squeak by Ghana for the second spot. I wavered on picking Ghana to get out of the group, and still question the Serbs. Australia is game, but unlikely to do any damage.
In Group E, the Dutch are the class of the group. I give Denmark the edge over Cameroon, but the African side may take advantage of home crowds. Japan will be at the bottom of the group.
In Group F, I like Italy and Paraguay 1-2. Slovakia might be a surprise, but I don’t see them beating Italy or Paraguay in group play. I’m not sure why Sports Illustrated picked the Slovaks as the second team in the group.
In Group G, we have the so-called “Group of Death.” Supposedly each of the four teams is good enough to advance. I don’t think so. Brazil is the class of the group and one of the best teams in the world. Even in what I consider a down period in Brazil, the team is explosive. Portugal struggled in qualifying, but Christiano Ronaldo loves a big stage. Portugal will be fine. Ivory Coast is overrated as a contender and just lost its best player, Didier Drogba. North Korea is an unknown. The team will pack in defenders, look for a counterattack and try to keep the score 0-0. Hopefully, the North Koreans will get exposed early and often and lose by a pinball score of 6-0 or 7-1.
In Group H, I have grudging admiration for the Swiss, and I don’t think Honduras is as awful as the world press has presented the team. However, Spain is my title contender, and I like Chile’s defense. I feel good about the top picks.
Contenders: In the Second Round, about the only surprise I see is if Germany goes down. Otherwise, the cream starts rising to the top.
Every tournament has a surprise. England, Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, is not too surprising. I guess the fun could be if Brazil coalesces at the right time and rips through to another crown. Otherwise, I like Spain to win, and I think anything less than the semifinals would be a disappointment for England.

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  • Jason Bahl said:

    That would be fun to see Spain win! Can’t wait to see what happens!

  • Football Gifts said:

    well done USA, if they were expected to make the next stage then great, now the pressure is off, enjoy and let’s hope they progress further.

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