This is a difficult group to predict. The host country has always advanced although a higher percentage of teams advance in the past. France are the favorites to win the group but have an insane manager and an underage sex scandal involving a few of their stars. Mexico is playing well since I shared an elevator with Javier Aguirre last summer. They have won the Gold Cup and finished qualifying strong. Uruguay are a solid team and are more than capable of advancing. I will take history and the hot hand though.
To Win the Group: Mexico
To Advance: South Africa
General consensus throughout the tournament should be to take African teams to advance because they are more familiar with the climate and should have home field advantage even if its just the South Africans backing them. However in this group I am taking chalk. Argentina took it to the final day to qualify but they are still the favorites of the group. Euro 2004 winners Greece failed to qualify for World Cup 2006 so here is there chance to prove themselves on a big stage again.To Win the Group: Argentina
To Advance: Greece
The group that you should be paying the most attention to. If not I will get INS on you. Saturday June 12 2:30 England vs. U.S.A. It may be a bigger deal to us but you can bet England will come out firing. More on that later. Algeria beat Egypt in a rare playoff to get here and shouldn't really challenge. Slovenia on the other hand could ruin a happy ending of the US and England.
To Win the Group: England
To Advance: USA
Another tough group to predict because of injuries to captains Michael Ballack and Michael Essien for Germany and Ghana respectively. Serbia has been picked as a dark horse to make a run in the knockout stages. Australia probably has the best goalkeeper in the group in Mark Schwarzer and that could be enough to see them through.
To win the Group: Germany
To Advance: Serbia
The Dutch always disappoint but they are the overwhelming favorites here. Cameroon and Denmark should provide a test as well. Japan may be able to sneak up on some more athletic teams by playing a defensive game.
To Win the Group: Netherlands
To Advance: Japan
Probably the easiest group. Italy should easily advance and then it should come down to Paraguay and Slovakia. New Zealand became the best team in the Oceania region since Australia left is still far away from being competitive on this stage.
To Win the Group: Italy
To Advance: Paraguay
It's been called the Group of Death, and not just because North Korea is in it. In fact, North Koreans will not be able to see their team compete in the World Cup unless they win, then they can watch on tape delay. So basically North Koreans will not see their country compete. Even if you take everything else away, this alone makes Kim Jong-il evil. Other teams will try to run up the score on the North Koreans for Goal differential reasons (the first tiebreaker). I'm not sure if we should feel sorry for the players on North Korea and cheer for them or root for them to get their heads kicked in. Ummm...heads kicked in. Any of the other three teams can win the group. It would be interesting in Brazil is eliminated.
To Win the Group: Brazil
To Advance: Ivory Coast
Spain is the the overwhelming favorite after winning Euro 2008. Any other team is capable of advance but Honduras are probably the underdogs. A Jonathan Bornstein goal in the final minute of extra time drawing the US level with Costa Rica sent Honduras to the World Cup Finals. Honduras like other countries are enamored with the World Cup. The country remembers the last time they were in the World Cup in 1986 when they tied Spain. They talk about it as a great accomplishment for their country. I wonder what they will say if they get a win this time around. Still I can't pick them to advance, but I'll be rooting for them.
To Win the Group: Spain
To Advance: Chile