The World Cup is upon us and the traditional first game between the hosts and another team is only a few hours away. South Africa will open the tournament against Mexico in Jo’burg and a couple hours later France will play Uruguay in Capetown to round out Group A action.
For every day of the world cup we will have a preview for the following days action as well as a recap of the past days games. As stated by Matt, I will be trying to do live commentary for every game (though might miss a couple). So please come and check us out AT LEAST three times a day, and as always comments are welcomed and encouraged.
SOUTH AFRICA versus MEXICO
South Africa might be the first host nation not to make it out of the group stages. There are no world beaters in this group but none of the teams are mugs either.
South Africa are also the second lowest ranked team at the World Cup, ranking 83rd according to FIFA; 5 spots below New Zealand (though 22 above North Korea…Kim Jong Il is not pleased). But they will have the hopes and desires of an entire nation blowing Vuvuzelas pushing them on. Crowds are often a 12th man and a crowd blowing these plastics trumpets can make for a 13th as well.
South Africa are also currently playing well and are undefeated in their last 5 warm up games (4 wins and a draw) including a 1 – 0 win against Denmark 5 days ago; so look for them to come out strong against Mexico.
Mexico have been the busiest of the 32 nations competing at the world cup playing 8 warm up games between May 7th and June 3rd. That’s more games in a month than a club team playing in a league, domestic cup and champions league, so one might assume that either Mexico are incredibly fit or already burnt out.
In that stretch they beat world cup participants Chile and Italy, 1-0 and 2-1 respectively, outplayed but lost 3-1 against England and lost a close one to the Dutch 2-1. They’re more than ready and their quick, slick passing game will put the South African defense on their toes.
Mexico’s defense on set pieces has left little to be desired, as shown in the game against England and this is where South Africa will look to score their goals. They will send giant defender Booth up for any corner or set piece into the box. Everton’s Pienaar will run the show for South Africa and veteran EPL striker McCarthy will be eating a pie somewhere.
TSG PREDICTION – DRAW 2-2
FRANCE versus URUGUAY
Uruguay, winner of two world cups (1930 and 1950) have not done too much in recent WC history. In the 80’s and 90’s they were known as a very dirty team but their rough play couldn’t get them past the round of 16. This time around they finished 5th in qualifying and needed a playoff against Costa Rica to get to South Africa.
Los Charruas strength is in their attack with Atletico Madrids Diego Forlan and Ajax Luis Suarez leading the charge. Both are fantastic strikers and can score from inside and outside of the box. Their back line is anchored by Captain Diego Lugano but the rest of squad is relatively young.
This team is a mixture of youth and experience and depending how they gel will obviously determine how they will do.
France as mentioned in a previous post are a mess. Just today it was announced that the players are demanding that potential NY Knick point guard Thierry Henry should start in tomorrows game ,where as stubborn as a mule coach Domenech says he’s coming off the bench. Internal dissent between a team is never good.
Also rumors are abound that certain players are not even passing to each other in friendly games, so things are looking pretty woeful for Les Blues.
Still, their team is chock full of excellent players who play at the highest levels and for the best teams. They’re professionals and hopefully will act like it.
This game will come down to whether Uruguay’s defense can handle Ribery, Gourcoff, Govou and Henry. They have played many games together and if they can get along, they should roll out as winners. Uruguay is going to have counter in order to win, but France’s defense is well tested and should not have a problem with Forlan and Suarez.
TSG PREDICTION – France 3 – Uruguay 1