Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Cup Group H Preview

Group H

Chile – Chile had a tremendous qualification campaign in South America, finishing second, only one point behind Brazil. They are not, though, the type of team that people are scared of. They have a mix of European players and players playing at home in Chile. They do not have any household names. They do play an exciting brand of football. Look for the games against Honduras and Spain to be real exciting ones. In this group, Chile have a real nice chance of qualifying.

Player to Watch – Humberto Suazo – Chile's best striker. It will be interesting to see if he can come back in time from injury to make a difference.

Honduras – Being from the US I am glad CONCACAF gets 3 teams automatically and a 4th goes to a playoff, but are they really worthy of this? I don't know. I'm not sure if Honduras deserves a spot, but I guess they are just as deserving as Norway or Bosnia or someone like that. Maybe. They do play attacking football, which will make things interesting.

Player to Watch – Georgie Welcome – Well, I really just like his name. He probably won't be a starter, but he should bring some needed height and power up top coming off the bench.

Spain – Spain are the odds on favorites to win this group. They really don't have any weak spots – world class goalie, defense, midfield, and forwards. They seem to be getting everyone healthy at the right time and are co-favorites with Brazil to win the whole thing. I would not bet against them. They have won their last 7 World Cup Group games!

Player to watch – Spain – You really cannot mark one person as the difference maker on this team. They are talented at every position and deep at every position. Even other teams like Brazil, you have Luis Fabiano who is a great striker, but if he doesn't perform, where will the goals come from? For Spain you have Torres and Villa, Xavi and Iniesta, Puyol and Pique.

Switzerland – Won their group over France in 2006 and were the first ever team to get knocked out of the World Cup without giving up a goal. Three straight shut outs would definitely get them through again, but their defense is not looking quite as strong, though they did win their qualifying group containing Greece, Latvia, and Israel. Lack of a strong central midfield will hurt them, but Switzerland have been one of the most consistent teams in Europe this decade, making the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and 2004 and 2008 Euro Championships. Look for this disciplined team to use the counter attack effectively.

Player to Watch – Alexander Frei – I have tried to stay from picking the most well known player as a team's player to watch, but when looking at Switzerland, he is the one sure thing. Frei has 40 goals for Switzerland in 73 matches and will be the obvious go to guy for this team and super important for advancement to the next round.

Prediction: Group H is obviously Spain's group. Despite a group that Spain should dominate, it still should be a fun one to watch, with Spain, Chile, and Honduras all playing an attacking style and Switzerland countering that with their strong defense. I'll be surprised if Spain doesn't take all 9 points. Chile and Switzerland should battle for second.

Spain 9
Switzerland 4
Chile 2
Honduras 1

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