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Nic Ladds 8th Jan 2010 - 10:07

World Cup 2010: Group B

This certainly has the chance of being the 2010 World Cup's group of surprises meaning there could be some value in the betting odds available.

Argentina are potential winners of the whole tournament, never mind Group B, yet their struggle through qualification shows they could slip up in South Africa. Nigeria win some and lose some - usually the opposite way round to most people's expectations - and Greece and South Korea have both put in shock performances in international tournaments in recent years.

Argentina Greece South Korea Nigeria
FIFA Ranking 8 13 52 22
Appearances (Last) 15 (2006) 1 (1994) 7 (2006) 3 (1998)
Best result Winner (78, 86) Group Stage
Fourth place (02) Last 16 (94, 98)
-v- Argentina - P1 W0 D0
P2 W0 D0
P3 W0 D1
-v- Greece P1 W1 D0 - P2 W1 D1 P2 W1 D0
-v- South Korea P2 W2 D0 P2 W0 D1
- P2 W0 D1
-v- Nigeria P3 W2 D1 P2 W1 D0
P3 W2 D1
Coach Diego Maradona Otto Rehhagel Huh Jung-Mo Shaibou Amodu
Star man Lionel Messi Sotirios Kyrgiakos Park Ji-Sung Obafemi Martins
To win Group B
4/9 (1.44) 8/1 (9.00) 9/1 (10.00) 4/1 (5.00)
To lift the cup
9/1 (10.00)
150/1 (151.00)
200/1 (201.00)
80/1 (81.00)




Despite coming under huge criticism before, during and after qualification, Argentina invest their World Cup hopes on the shoulders of Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player ever to play the beautiful game but is yet to convince quite as much as a coach.

“La Albiceleste” had a tortuous qualification campaign, leaving it very late to cement their place and collecting their lowest points tally since the ten-team group system was introduced, but nevertheless, they will go to South Africa with serious hopes of going all the way, and on their day they can beat anyone.

Fans and historians will remember though that they had an equally bad preparation in 1985 to qualify for the Mexico ’86 World Cup and they of course went on to lift the trophy and as disliked as Maradona is by some, he undoubtedly has the respect, experience of the tournament and competitive streak to see that his Argentina side can seriously challenge for the title.

A lot will depend on the performance of who many consider to be the best player in the world right now, Lionel Messi who consistently turns in breathtaking performances for Barcelona but has failed to do so quite so regularly in a blue and white shirt.

Messi has the ability, like his coach in his heyday to win games on his own and if he performs along with the lethal Sergio Aguero up front, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Mascherano anchoring midfield and Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel adding years of experience at the back, Argentina should certainly win the group and do look possible contenders to go all the way.



Greece stunned Europe and indeed the world when winning the European Championships in 2004 through organised and disciplined football and it is that method that they hope will get them by here.

They looked impressive at the start of the qualification campaign before coming unstuck against Switzerland both home and away which saw them have to settle for a play-off berth where they edged past Ukraine.

Greece are not lacking in experience and Sotirios Kyrgiakos is key marshalling the defence in what has become a well regarded, solid back line. Theofanis Gekas was the top scorer in European Zone qualifying and Angelos Charisteas is a handful for any defender and he will be hoping to repeat his heroics having scored the winner in the final at Euro 2004.

Otto Rehhagel is having his first taste of a World Cup and since taking over in 2001 he has been praised around the world for what he has achieved with such an unfashionable footballing nation.

However the last World Cup Greece were involved in saw them getting thumped by both Argentina and Nigeria who they meet again this time. They have the ability to frustrate teams with their physical and disciplined game but can they pull off another shock charge to the final? You would think definitely not.

They could get out of their group but would look likely candidates for a last 16 exit and while they will go down respectably they just look like obstacles for Argentina and one of the other two sides to negotiate rather than live challengers. They look up against it and if Rehhagel can pull of another miracle it will truly be the biggest shock that football has ever seen.


South Korea

Korea Republic have become something of a permanent fixture in the World Cup recently as they have qualified for the last seven tournaments. It wasn’t the plain sailing that many expected as they drew three times with arch rivals Korea DPR before grinding out the necessary results against the likes of Iran and UAE.

Korea stunned the world when, amid massive controversy with rumours of match fixing abound, they reached the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, beating Portugal, Spain and Italy along the way before losing to Germany but that was under the guidance of Guus Hiddink and current manager Huh Jung–Moo is yet to scale the dizzy heights to which the Dutchman took Korea.

Park Ji–Sung is absolutely crucial for Korea’s success, as the versatile midfielder is behind nearly everything they do and the team is based around him. Park Chu–Young is the other player Korea relies on as he has become their main source of goals and the Monaco front man will look to improve on his below par performance in 2006.

Korea are certainly an organised unit who will provide a stern challenge for any of the sides in the group and they could well fill second behind Argentina, but should anything happen to Ji–Sung or Chu–Young then they will struggle for both creativity and goals.



Like the rest of their group, Nigeria’s passage to the finals was far from smooth and they stared elimination in the face before Tunisia lost to Mozambique and Nigeria came from behind twice to beat Kenya 3-2 and cement their place in the finals.

They have often got off to explosive starts in the World Cup finals before faltering in the second round like in 1994 where they beat eventual semi–finalists Bulgaria 3-0 and then stunned Spain in 1998 3-2 so it is fair to think they can get out of the group, possibly even as winners as they have the talent to beat any team in the world on their day.

The Super Eagles have an embarrassment of riches up front with Nwankwo Kanu, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Obafemi Martins all familiar to English football fans while Victor Obinna is starting to look like a world class striker. Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel marshals the midfield while captain Joseph Yobo mans the defence in a side that can compete with nearly anyone.

Why they often underachieve is a question that the team itself will be called on to answer and prove the doubters wrong this time around and given their history of starting well Argentina should be very worried as they face them in their opening game and whichever side wins that game look the likely group winners.


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