Thursday, June 3, 2010

Group A Preview

Group A is one of the most enigmatic of the groups in South Africa. The favorites are certainly going to be the young, yet seasoned Mexican team that has all the tools necessary to advance past the group stage and go far in the knockout rounds. 22-year old Javier Hernandez will be El Tri's X-factor; if he can play like he did in Mexican league play then Mexico's offense will be even better than it already is.

After Mexico the quest for the second spot in the knockout round becomes very murky. At first glance the French squad looks like a surefire lock to take second in the group but the French are aging. They have Thierry Henry providing great work in the attacking third and midfielders Franck Ribery and Yoann Gourcuff will be key in determining how far the French will go. Look for their game with Uruguay to be the game that decides who advances out of the group.

Uruguay is good. They have a recent European golden boot winner in Diego Forlan and they are big up front. Some might consider Uruguay to be a middle of the pack South American team, but those teams are still amongst the best in the world. Look for the nation that won the first World Cup eighty years ago to make a run to the quarterfinals.

The final team in Group A is also the one with the most to gain. The host South Africans are in the unenviable position of being stuck in a group with three teams that are much more talented than they. Even though they will have the loudest cheering section of all 32 nations it won't be enough for the Bafana Bafana because they will most likely go 0-3 and become the first host nation not to qualify for the second round. However, even one win in the group would legitimize South Africa as a top footballing nation in Africa and would shock the world.

Tomorrow: Group B preview

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