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World Cup Preview Part 1

World Cup Preview Part 1

 The World Cup begins on Friday with host South Africa taking on Mexico. After 4 years the world is ready for another shot at Football Heaven. A month full of action, sweat, tears, ups and downs. Will Italy win back to back World Cups? Will South Africa make it out of the group stages? Will Brazil make it back to the Finals? Will this be the year the Three Lions, England takes the crown since 1966? Can the USA put on the same display they did in last year’s Confederations Cup?

 All those questions will begin to be answered on Friday, but first a preview of the tournament with The Sports Rabbi.

 Group A

This group features host nation South Africa, Uruguay, France & Mexico.

 Mexico has been bounced out of the past four tournaments in the second round but look to change this being led by Giovanni dos Santos & Carlos Vega. Personally I hate Mexico and their style of football. I’ve seen them give the US fits in Mexico, but over the past decade they have done nothing outside of their home stadium. I remember back to the 2002 World Cup Qualifying matches, where I had the opportunity to see the US beat Mexico 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio on a cold February night. I along with 25 other New York Soccer fans flew to the match stayed overnight and celebrated well into the evening after a terrific game by the Red, White & Blue.

 Uruguay is another team I saw the US play in May of 2002. The US won that day thanks to goals by Tony Sanneh, who will be a guest of the Rusty Mike Radio Sports Show today between 1-3pm NY Time www.rustymikeradio.com and Demarcus Beasley. Uruguay will be in their 11th World Cup but will likely come short in this group even with Diego Forlan being featured in their attack.

 France. Are they over the hill? Has their day passed them? Will Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka & William Gallas be able to have a strong showing? They sure haven’t so far under Raymond Domenech, however, you can never count out a former Champion and last World Cup’s runner up.

 South Africa, well I doubt they will make it out of their group, but it’s been a very long time since the host did not make it out of group play, so they have a fighter’s chance.

 The Sports Rabbi’s picks-Mexico (ugh!-I hate them) and France

 Group B

This group features Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic & Greece

 Argentina, need we say any more? Even with clueless coach Diego Maradona at the helm, this team has enough talent to advance out of this group even if coached by a monkey. Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Juan Sebastien Veron, Do I have to justify this pick anymore? I think NOT.

 Nigeria, the Super Eagles out of the continent of Africa should pose a threat to this group but I think they will come up short even with the likes of former Inter Milan player Obafemi Martins.

 Korea Republic. They will be fun to watch and exciting an unappreciated by most who have not followed them in Asia. But though they come under the radar, they may make it out of the group stages again.

 Greece, my dark horse. This country always seems to surprise as they have done in the past as European Champions in 2004. They are big, they are strong and the are poised to move out of their group. They beat Ukraine in the European Zone play-offs.

 The Sports Rabbi’s picks-Argentina & Greece

 Group C

 This group features the USA, England, Slovenia & Algeria

 The USA are going to beat the Brits 3-1 and make it out of this round for the first time since 2002. The US led by Landon Donavan, Clint Dempsey and Tom Howard are fearless. They constantly attack and have shown their metal in qualifying and last year’s Confederations Cup. Bob Bradley is a competent coach and will lead them to where no other US coach has led them before. Plus he once took a picture with me as did Howard & Donovan.

 England’s woes begin with Rio Ferdinand being injured and in my opinion Wayne Rooney not being 100%. Yes they will make it out of Group C but Capello will have to work miracles for them to make it much further. Sorry fans this is not the year.

 Slovenia is big and strong similar to many of the countries in their region like Latvia, Serbia etc… but they do not have the skill to take them further. Yes, they beat Russia in the play off but their best athlete plays basketball and is on the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers.

 Algeria- No Chance, No discussion. 24 years since their last appearance, it will be 24 until their next.

 The Sports Rabbi’s picks-USA & England

 Group D

 This group features Germany, Ghana, Serbia & Australia

 Germany, favorites to advance without much of a problem in this group. Miroslav Klose and friends will make quick work and finish 3-0 in this group.

 Ghana made it into the 2nd round last World Cup and look to do that again as the Black Stars feature Sulley Muntari, but without an injured Michael Essien their power to push them through to the next round may be limited, but I still think the African nation will make it to Rd. 2. -Thanks to reader Billy Walsh for pointing out my error of having Essien in the squad in the original post. 

 Serbia led by Dejan Stankovic and Nemanja Vidic are strong willed and should pose a minor threat to Germany & Ghana but don’t have enough to make it out of Group D.

 For Australia, well 2 representatives form that side of the world is more than enough. For group play.

Tune in Tomorrow for Part 2!

Thoughts from the Pulpit

1) Stephen Strasburg, 7 innings, 2 ER, 14 K’s, 0 BB. Need we say more about this debut, good things to come for one Stephen Strasburg

2) Lakers in 6. What a win yesterday, Derek Fisher playing like he was 10 years younger, Kobe Bryant with 29 pts and Lamar Odom finally showing up. Unfortunately Paul Pierce hasn’t shown up yet for the Celtics.