Tuesday, June 15, 2010

South Africa 2010 – Group H:

The main fact:
A group which is graced by the presence.

Coach : Marcelo Bielsa
Appearances : 7
Best Result : Third Place 1962
FIFA Rank : 18th
Key : Alexis Sanchez, Humberto Suazo.

Considering Chile have not qualified for the World Cup since France 1998, they look good in patches during qualifying campaign finished in second place behind Brazil. Highlights included victory over Argentina and Colombia, the Chilean are one of the most intriguing sides at the tournament. In 2007 they sealed third at the U-20 World Cup and many of that side now make up a hungry solid team as one of the youngest squad with an average age around 23. Such as the talented Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez is the cream of a 21-year-old who already has 26 caps and 8 international goals to his name, the question will be on his ability to fight in Africa. If the young Chileans have problems adapting, then the doughty Swiss could take advantage. Otherwise, they will simply have too much quality and aggressiveness to qualify in second place. They will play with sharp passing to pressure the opposition in their half of the field, and matchup with Honduras will likely to be the key as they play Spain in the final game of the group.

Coach - Reinaldo Rueda
Appearances : 1
Best Result : First Round 1982
FIFA Rank : 38th
Key : Wilson Palacios, David Suazo.

Honduras is making their second World Cup appearance since 1982, with a little chance of making to the round 16 if everything goes right on the day. Half of their squad plays in top level European leagues and they won't be intimidated by any team in this group. While they looks better than the others like New Zealand and North Korea, the Los Catrachos will certainly not look out for a place against any team in this event. Led by 36-year-old Carlos Pavon who scored seven goals in qualifying, he will be aided by Tottenham's Palacios, Genoa's Suazo, and Julio Leon of Italy's Torino. Yes, their problem is age, starting eleven mostly over 30. Obviously they will face a tough task to overcome the talent attack of Spain and Chile also the organization of Switzerland.

Coach : Vicente del Bosque
Appearances : 12
Best Result : Fourth place, 1950
FIFA Rank : 2nd
Key : Casillas, Xavi, David Villa.

There is simply way that the Spanish will win this group, and the Euro champions are considered the favorite to win the cup. Just like Holland, Spain is one of the best teams that never win world cup. Nowadays, it is no doubt the Spanish is absolutely superior to everyone with stars all over the field and many on the bench as well. There is quality oozing through their squad and La Roja have a wonderful chance to win their first ever World Cup. Their defense is reasonably solid with the best goalkeeper in the world Iker Casillas. With the attacking offense, their midfield and front line is the best in the world right now. Qualification was a breeze, a 100% record and an average of almost three goals a game. However, the Spaniards has consistently underachieved in championship play and was exposed by the United States as vulnerable to the counterattack in the 2009 Confederations Cup. They have to prove their improvement by facing one of Ivory Coast or Portugal in the round of 16, then Brazil in the last perfect final.

Coach : Ottmar Hitzfeld
Appearances : 8
Best Result : Quarterfinals 1934, 1938, 1954
FIFA Rank : 24th
Key : Tranquillo Barnetta, Philippe Senderos, Alexander Frei.

The Swiss hasn't finished better than round of 16 since the 1950's, now they're making their ninth World Cup final appearance or second in a row. Switzerland can be summed up by saying they're an extremely average side who is qualified from an average group. They recovered well from a humiliating home defeat to that footballing giant known as Luxembourg to win their group ahead of Greece, losing only once in 10 matches. Under Ottmar Hitzfeld the senior side has raised eyebrows, so they are a good team but not so deep. They have talent across the board but main challenge is they get easily injured or suspensions may occur. For this reason, even they have a chance of making the knockout stages but logically they would fall short.

This group is graced by the presence of Spain as well as Chile, Switzerland, and Honduras. While it may be hard to predict which two sides will qualify, there would be no doubt about the group winner. The only way Spain doesn't win is because they choke, but we never hear about it.

Chile could be the only team in this group to steal first from the Spaniards, but that means beating them and the world cup might be over. Honduras pegged as the underdog, but Carlos Pavon and David Suazo are going to be a scoring force. Switzerland is one of the weakest teams from Europe in this party, apparently they are going to miss Frei for at least one match, so hard to expect them standing up to Chile. So, it comes down to the Honduras vs Chile, whoever the winner will finish second in the group. Let's hope than expect to see young Chileans' adventurous '3 - 3 - 1 - 3' formation with Sanchez making fools of defenders and Suazo banging all the ball home.

Spain (9), Chile (4), Honduras (3), Switzerland (1).


Anonymous said...

Yes, Spain's got choke... my Irish bartender told me that !!

Anonymous said...

Villa can make it, go!

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