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Stuart Dalgleish 8th Jan 2010 - 10:02

World Cup 2010: Group G

Group G looks like being one of the most exciting and open group’s in World Cup history as the five-time winners Brazil (4/7 for the group, 9/2 to win the tournament) have been drawn with 2006’s most entertaining team Portugal (10/3 group, 22/1 tournament), one of Africa’s most talented teams with arguably the best striker in the world right now Ivory Coast (7/2 group, 33/1 tournament) and the explosive Didier Drogba and then the group whipping boys North Korea (a whopping 80/1 just to win the group and a colossal 2000/1 to win the whole thing).

Brazil North Korea
Ivory Coast
Portugal
FIFA Ranking 1 105 27 3
Appearances (Last) 18 (2006) 1 (1966) 1 (2006) 4 (2006)
Best result Winner (58,62,70,94,02) Quarter Finals (66)
Group stage (06)
Third (66)
-v- Brazil - P0 W0 D0
P0 W0 D0
P18 W4 D2
-v- North Korea
P0 W0 D0 - P0 W0 D0 P1 W1 D0
-v- Ivory Coast
P0 W0 D0 P0 W0 D0
- P0 W0 D0
-v- Portugal P18 W12 D2 P1 W0 D0
P0 W0 D0
-
Coach Dunga Kim Jong-Hun
Sven-Goran Eriksson
Carlos Queiroz
Star man Kaká Hong Yong-Jo
Didier Drogba
Cristiano Ronaldo
To win Group G
4/7 (1.57) 80/1 (81.00) 7/2 (4.50) 10/3 (4.33)
To lift the cup
9/2 (5.50)
2000/1 (2001.00)
33/1 (32.00)
22/1 (23.00)

 

 

Brazil

Brazil disappointed in 2006 and never really played to their full level, despite reaching the quarter-finals, but things have changed since then though – Dunga has given the team more balance after looking lopsided with their four man attack that was in operation in Germany.

Some of the players that have been renowned for trouble making (Ronaldinho, Adriano) have been ditched in favour of some (at the moment) shall we say more unfashionable names such as Felipe Melo and Nilmar.

Also A Seleção don’t have the ‘you score three, we’ll score four’ approach that managers have gone for in the past.

It’s not always proved popular with the public but now Brazil are actually a solid defensive unit and only conceded 11 goals in 18 qualifying games, helped in no small part by midfield general Gilberto Silva, who by breaking up attacks and keeping it simple in the middle of the park gives Kaká the freedom to weave his magic behind the front two.

Gilberto is one of the unsung heroes of the national team, as he’s a no thrills type of player, but he’s one of the most vital parts of the national team, and if Brazil are to go all the way then you can expect the former Arsenal player to be at the heart of everything.

 

Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast will be making their second appearance at the finals, and their luck is obviously out as once again they’ve been drawn in the so-called ‘Group of Death’.

In their first World Cup at Germany 06 they were up against Argentina, the Netherlands and Serbia, but they impressed in all three games and were in no way overawed by their more illustrious opponents, managing a great comeback victory in their final group game against the Serbs.

Fast forward a few years though and they’ve now established themselves as one of the best sides Africa has to offer, they’re hot favourites to win this year’s Africa Cup of Nations after reaching the semi-finals in 2008, unfortunately it all fell apart for them in that match with eventual winners Egypt but they scored goals for fun before that and were looking a fluid outfit.

Of course their star man is Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, but they’ve got an abundance of midfield talent with pass masters Yaya Toure and Didier Zokora, whilst winger Abdul Kader Keita is a real talent and has already had a crack at a top European league whilst playing for Lille and then Lyon – another good showing in South Africa will surely see him move to the Premier League or La Liga from his current club of Galatasary.

How the Elephants fare will all come down to how they start off - thankfully they’ve avoided Brazil in their first fixture but face Portugal instead, avoiding defeat will give them a good shout but a loss could mean it’s all over before their final game as that’s when they have their ‘easy’ match against North Korea.

I think the impact of Droba in the opening game will define their World Cup, if he can escape his Chelsea team mates Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Carvalho then he’ll undoubtedly get the chances and more than likely get the goals to give Ivory Coast the three points in that game, if he’s well marshalled then opportunities could be at a premium.

 

Portugal

The team who I think could be facing early elimination, Portugal were hugely disappointing in qualifying, and had to rely on a place in the play-offs after earning the lowest points total of all the teams who qualified from the European zone.

It’s a mystery as to why Portugal were so poor in qualifying, when you have the pace and technical ability that they have with the likes of Bosingwa, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Simao Sabrosa you shouldn’t be struggling to see off the likes of Albania and then needing to win your last two games just to make sure of finishing behind Denmark and getting a play-off spot.

It was a struggle though and unless they can play like they did in their final two regular qualifying games they will be up against it with Brazil, and they won’t relish a battle with the Ivory Coast.

If they’re to make an impression in South Africa, then the likes of Tiago and Raul Meireles will have to work extra hard to cover gaps created by the rest of their attack minded colleagues, I’m not convinced that manager Carlos Queiroz has the tactical nous to get the most out of his team though so I wouldn’t be lumping on them to win the group.

 

North Korea

North Korea, like Ivory Coast, have qualified for their second finals, but somehow I don’t think they’ll be repeating their heroics from 1966 when they shocked the football world by beating the mighty Italians.

Coincidentally though, they will be repeating one of their opponents from that World Cup when they take on Portugal, who knocked them out after coming from 3-0 down to win 5-3.

This time though they’ll do well if they score three goals in the entire group stage, never mind three in one game, the best Korea can hope for is to not lose all three games and at least make scorelines respectable.

If they can do that then they can hold their heads high, as nobody is expecting anything other than a fourth place finish in the group.

 

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