Netherlands – The Big Orange Machine. I don't see the Dutch having much trouble advancing. They are one of the most exciting teams in the tournament and are capable of winning it all. Van Persie, Robben, and Sniejder can all take over the game with class and speed and goals. Look for lots of goals from the Orange. Defense is not as strong, but should be alright in group play. Nigel de Jong is important as that holding midfield player, allowing the outside mids and backs to venture forward. The absence of Van der Sar may show later on. Anything other than first place in group E will be a surprise for the Dutch.
Player to watch – Robin Van Persie – You know what you are going to get from Sneijder and Robben, both performing excellently , but Van Persie missed most of the Premier League season with an ankle injury. He has looked good in warm up matches, and if he is in form, you'll see Netherlands playing into the middle of July.
Denmark – Won a tough qualifying group over Portugal, Sweden, and Hungary with a match to spare. They are lacking superstars, but have a strong squad never the less. They are stronger in attack than most people think and will not just rely on their quality defense. They have a nice combination of experience (Thomas Sorensen, Jasper Gronkjaer, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Martin Jorgenson) and youth (Daniel Agger, Nicholas Bendtner, Simon Kjaer) which could cause issues for Japan and Cameroon and maybe even the Netherlands. The tough qualifying campaign will help on all fronts.
Player to watch – Christian Poulsen – One of the Danish players in his prime, not fitting into the veteran or youth category. Poulsen is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and needs to continue to excel in that vital role in South Africa.
Cameroon – The Indomitable Lions were once the flag bears of African soccer but have fallen in years past, missing the Cup in 2006 and only having one win in 94, 98, and 02 combined. They are back this year and needed a last day victory to qualify over Morocco. Cameroon has a volatile superstar in Samuel Eto'o, who threatened to leave the team after critical comments from legend Roger Milla. Man up son! Hopefully the critical comments from Big Dunc won't make you leave the team. Another great player is Jean Makoun and there are Premiership defends Assou-Ekotto and Bassong. Goalkeeper Carlos Kameni is vastly under rated, but like Eto'o, the defenders, the Songs, and the rest of the squad, has been known to make mistakes and lapse out of games. That cannot happen if the Lions want to advance.
Player to watch – Pierre Webo – Webo is the support striker of Eto'o. They need him to take the pressure of Eto'o and provide flicks and balls whenever possible. If Webo can find the net, that will really open things up for Cameroon.
Japan – Japan might enter the tournament with the least fan fair of any team. They aren't being picked by anyone to advance out of the group. They aren't a new team. Their qualification wasn't a surprise like New Zealand or North Korea. They aren't just happy to be here. So they really have nothing going for them. They are a professional, experienced team, so they won't be pushovers, they just won't be super interesting to watch.
Player to watch – Kazuo Kiriyama – Heartless, cannot feel emotion, player with the most kills in the game, 15 in all! Oh wait, maybe I'm thinking of something other than the Japanese soccer team. Hmm.
Prediction – Netherlands all the way, in the group I mean. I think they do have a pretty clear path the quarters, first meeting 2nd place in a weak group F, but then would have to play most likely the winner of G (Brazil, Ivory Coast, or Portugal). Second place should come down to the Denmark/Cameroon game, but, looking at the schedule, it seems to favor Cameroon. They should go into the game three points up on the Danes, and play Netherlands third, who have a good chance of having the group wrapped up by then. If Cameroon can tie Denmark, I think they go through.