Monday, May 31, 2010

World Cup Group B Preview

On paper this group looks to be a bit boring. But it's Argentina. It's Diego Maradona. It's the greatest player on this planet. In my book that's more than enough reason to watch. O yeh, and don't forget that if all goes well for Argentina and they win it, Maradona will parade his fat ass naked through the streets of Buenos Aires (and allow fans to blow lines off his chest?)

We'll start with Argentina who qualified on the very last day with a 1-0 in Uruguay. I love this team. I love everything that hangs over their head. Unfortunately, their coach is a cancer. Diego Armando Maradona is one of the best players of all time but it ends there. His lack of coaching experience (let alone his ability to coach in the first place) has taken a very talented team and left it in ruins. I don't want to focus on this imbecile because there is much to drool over. With the rock in the middle that is Javier Mascherano, flanked by Maxi Rodriguez and the left-footed Angel Di Maria (watch out for this guy), there shouldn't be much of a problem setting the pace in that third of the field. However, the lack of a creative midfielder (a la Cambiasso) may become problematic in latter stages of the tournament. Up front, well take your pick. Tevez, Aguero, Milito, Higuain. And of course my little munchkin Messi. All eyes will be on La Pulga to see if he can take his mesmerizing club form to the national level. All the criticism heaped on him is unfair to say the least. First, he's not surrounded by the best midfield in on the planet with Xavi and Iniesta. And second, let's give blame where blame is due. Maradona has no clue how to set up his squad. He has no clue how to get the best out of Messi. Whether he maroons him out wide into no-man's land, or forces him to come back too deep to get the ball, Maradona has yet to find the right formula. And he better or else this underachieving team won't get very far (I didn't even mention how suspect they are at the back).

Joining them are South Korea - most recognizable by Manchester United winger Park Ji-Sung. Other than that, they qualified waaaay back in June 2009 and have been quite inconsistent ever since. Nothing flashy to look out for here.

I'd put more money on Greece sorting out its economic woes than taking this team to get out of the group. They slipped by 1-0 on aggregate against Ukraine to get in. And ever since George Clooney retired from international football in 2008, the team hasn't been the same.

Finally we've got Nigeria. They too barely qualified needing a last gasp winner and Mozambique to upset Tunisia (don't ask me any questions, take out your own damn globe and find the places yourself). They've made the quarterfinals twice in the their previous 3 trips to the World Cup - most recently 1994 and 1998. And although qualification was up in the air until the last minute, Nigeria are still a team to take note of. With a wealth of England based players, they boast an experienced and well balanced side. Although their top scorer in qualifying has been dropped from the team due to fitness issues, they will still feature the likes of John Obi Mikel, John Utaka, Yakubu, and Obafemi Martins.

HOW IT WILL PAN OUT: Argentina will waltz through this group. The Super Eagles of Nigeria will place second - Greece and South Korea simply aren't good enough.

GAME OF THE GROUP: Any game Lionel Messi is involved in.

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