World Cup Group G preview

Group G

Brazil

Ivory Coast

Portugal

North Korea

 

Out of all the groups drawn in Cape Town, South Africa, Group G was possibly the most fascinating with three teams tipped to go a long way in the tournament. Five times World Cup winners Brazil were placed with a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal and arguably the strongest African opposition in the Ivory Coast. North Korea were the unfortunate minnows to be placed with the three giants. Even a point for the Asian side would be seen as a successful campaign considering they have only one player that plays their domestic football in Europe.

Bookies second favourites Brazil will be looking to win the biggest football tournament around for the 6th time. However, they will have to navigate their way out of a group that will test their credentials early on. Even so, a team containing the likes of Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho should fear nobody. The recent 2009 Confederations Cup gave a large indication of the Brazilian credentials as they romped to victory playing some breathtaking football at times. Portugal, on the other hand, are thankful to be at South Africa 2010 after a near disastrous qualification campaign that saw them sneak into second place right at the climax. New manager Carlos Queiros struggled to get the best from his players early on and only a late rally saved them. Still, Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to impress on the big stage whilst Portugal have plenty of other capable players such as Pepe and Simao among others. The Ivory Coast have been called the dark horses of the tournament ever since their comfortable qualification from the African section. For the second tournament in succession, the team has been drawn in the group of death. With the experience of 2006 behind them, a nation that includes feared striker Didier Drogba, alongside numerous high profile players competing in the best leagues in Europe, will be one to look out for.

So, how to pick between these three teams? It’s hard to look beyond Brazil for qualification. The team has a wealth of experience and knowledge of how to perform on the big stage. Their opening game should be three points against North Korea which immediately puts the pressure on the other two big guns in the group. Realistically, you’re looking at a straight fight between Portugal and Ivory Coast for that second spot. The victor of their opening match will be favourite to advance whilst the loser will have to beat Brazil to give themselves a chance. Both sides are known for playing quick, attacking football although defensively is where both teams may come unstuck. With Ivory Coast competing on their home continent and the added bonus of playing tournament football when the Africa Nations arrives in January, I’m going to give them the slight edge in qualification which will see Portugal going home early.

 

TEAM – Brazil

MANAGER – Dunga

QUALIFIED – 1st in South America

STAR PLAYER – Kaka

VERDICT – Qualified

TEAM – Ivory Coast

MANAGER - Vahid Halilodzic

QUALIFIED – 1st in Africa

STAR PLAYER – Didier Drogba

VERDICT – Qualified

TEAM - Portugal

MANAGER – Carlos Queiros

QUALIFIED – 2nd in Europe

STAR PLAYER – Cristiano Ronaldo

VERDICT – Group Stage Exit

  

TEAM - North Korea

MANAGER – Kim Jong Hun

QUALIFIED – 2nd in Asia

STAR PLAYER – Hong Yong Jo

VERDICT – Group Stage Exit

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