Tournament predictions, they can sometimes be as wrong as can be but they still provide intrigue on who in fact is a contender or a pretender. The 2010 World Cup is no different, with 32 nations battling for the opportunity to be crowned world’s best, the Toronto Observer World Cup staff takes a look at which teams in fact sit where among the supposed Top 10 teams in the competition.
Spain– The Euro 2008 champions come into the tournament with strong depth at every position and boast the tournaments best striking duo in Fernando Torres and David Villa. Soccer pundits though will point to a lack of World Cup success for Spain as a caution flag for the Spanish but with a midfield consisting of the likes of Xavi, Cesc Fabregas,Andres Iniesta and David Silva they are a force to be reckoned with
England- Fabio Capello’s squad comes into South Africa a very promising side. England boasts quality players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney just to name a few and have been at their best under the Italian. Having not won a World Cup in over 40 years, England will look to capitalize on a very favourable draw and take the World Cup back to English soil.
Brazil- The Samba Boys head into South Africa a much different looking squad but a dangerous one nonetheless. Familiar faces such as Ronaldinho, Adriano and Ronaldo were excluded from the 2010 squad but with Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano on offence not to mention a great goalkeeper in Julio Cesar, Brazil is bound to produce some noise in South Africa.
Argentina- Boasting perhaps the greatest amount of forward talent ever assembled by one team at a World Cup, Argentina heads into South Africa as a team perhaps destined for greatness. Leading the pack will be 2009 player of the year Lionel Messi, the skilled Argentine has been compared to coach Diego Maradona, whether he can duplicate Maradona’s exploits on the international stage remains to be seen.
Netherlands- The enigma that is Holland enter South Africa with something to prove after countless years of suffering disappointing finishes at the international level. The chances of the Dutch progressing to the latter rounds took a hit with the injury to Arjen Robben but the club still possesses enough fire power to defeat any team on any given day.
Portugal- After a semi-final birth in 2006, Portugal heads into South Africa as one of the most puzzling sides to figure out. With a numerous amount of star players in the squad such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and Simao Sabrosa, the Portuguese could cause some damage but the lack of consistency in the club has been their biggest problem.
Germany- With captain Michael Ballack injured before the World Cup and unable to play in the tournament, the thought of Germany reaching and winning the World Cup in South Africa seemed rather moot but the depth of the German squad is impressive and perhaps not having the 34 year-old Ballack in the spotlight will allow others to step up.
France: Though boasting an array of world class players, the French national team is in shambles at the moment with reported in fighting when it comes to team selections and the squad simply being in a transition phase. The retirement of Zinedine Zidane after the last World Cup has left France with a hole they have been unable to fill and the decline in play of striker Thierry Henry is another reason for the decline in french fortunes.
Italy: Much like France, the 2006 World Cup winners are in the midst of a transition period but one they are not willing to admit too. Coach Marcelo Lippi has stuck with some veterans like Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta along with Gennaro Gattuso but these players are well past their prime. 2010 should be nothing more than a transition tournament for the Azzuri until a new generation begins to emerge.
Ivory Coast: The Elephants come into the 2010 tournament as seemingly the best African side and a supposed legitimate contender at a World Cup title. The severe injury suffered by Didier Drogba derailed those hopes and even if the Chelsea striker can recover quickly enough to play in the World Cup a lackluster defence will prove their undoing.
So how does some of the Toronto Observer World Cup writers see the World Cup final playing out…
Nadine Liverpool(USA/South Africa): Netherlands vs Argentina, with Argentina winning 2-0, a goal by Messi and Milito. Argentina wins the World Cup because of one word: Messi …plus I want to see footage of Maradona running naked in the streets lol
Matt Shott (Italy/Switzerland): Spain over Italy 2-1 in the final, the 2006 World champs still have some fight left in them, Spain will be too much though.
Cecila Olmos(Mexico/Algeria): Spain wins the World Cup. The actual European champion has one of the best goalkeepers in the world: Iker Casillas. La Furia Roja also combines the skills of players that have won titles with Spainish League champ Barcelona, as well as the incomparable technique of El Niño Torres.
Myself(Portugal/New Zealand): My heart wants Portugal to win the competition but my head says that Spain will win the World Cup over England by a score of 1-0.