FIFA World Cup2010 Final Draw is out . At stake is not only the “CUP of Life” but also reputations of the Big Teams and Players and Coaches. For this cup distinguishes champions from also rans, Great players from good. Lucky from jinxed.It’s a Chance for New entrants to prove they can pay ball with Big Boys. Established names will seek to live up to billing. Some stars in twilight of their career will look for redemption, New Stars will be born at the Biggest stage while some will walk away in sunset.
Cristiano and Messi have been in close contest since the last WC to be crowned as the world’s best. Jury is still out. But make no mistake their performance will decide the destiny of their teams. Whoever leads their country to greater glory at World cup will steal a march over other once for all. While Cristiano will wage a lone battle as Portuguese forward along with Nani or Simoa Sambrosa, Messi has an able partner in Tevez which makes them a deadly combo in Argentine jersey. Torres of Spain similarly partners one of the best in central midfield, Xabi Alonso. This Real Madrid player is a great reader of the gameand has exceptional ability to deliver long distance passes. The genius of Samuel Eto may not be enough to pull Cameroon through the group stages though unless the team rediscovers its natural free spirited game that once made them such a wonderful team to watch. German captain Ballack has been at times been cruelly accused of being Unlucky as Germany has never won a major tournament he has been part of . He will be keen to set the record straight in probably the last World Cup that he is playing. Though he can always boast of Germany not losing since June 2005 in any match where he has scored. Ballack in tandem with Podolski ( WC 2006 Best Young Player)and Miroslav Klose (Golden Boot winner in last world cup ) can break through the defences of any side.
Ronaldinho has risen phoenix like in recent times inSerie A playing for AC Milan and though not the same potent force as he used to be, he may still well prove to be a match winner for Brazil as he aspires for redemption. England’s Michael Owen will be in playing XI provided he stays fit. It would be a treat for fans to see him team up with David Beckham and Wayne Rooney for one last time. Beckham meanwhile will start bending it for Milan (on Loan from Los Angeles Galaxy) from Jan 2010 to be Match Fit for World Cup.
For all individual Brilliance, it will be the team showing that will matter at the end. Stars will play their part, they will be a motivation for their team mates but that alone will not be enough . All teams will try to gain early momentum by drawing the first blood.
The 32 contesting teams have 6 months in hand to draw strategies, refine their game, iron out the fault lines, build on their strengths and work on the weaknesses. The Groupings have been one of the most balanced seen in recent times.
In last two WC’s Argentina would invariably find themselves in The Group of Death. A team led by Messi and Tevez (Both contender for World’s Best footballer, results of which will be declared on 21stof this month) should find the going easy against Greece, South Korea and Nigeria in group B. They need to be cautious though. Historically Argentina has always displayed the ability to out play their opponents but never the capability to out think or outwit them. Group B has handed Maradona a chance to plan out their campaign beyond the group stages.
Group G is being touted as the Group of Death more for Historical reasons then anything else. Brazil will face challenge from Portugal, North Korea and Ivory Coast. Portugal has barely made it to the finals. But now with Cristiano leading at front they should make it along with Brazil on basis of current form. Though it would be disastrous for either team to take African Champions Ivory Coast lightly. Brazil should have a sparkling line up ready by WC. The team coached by Dunga has enough fire power in likes of Kaka , Luis fabiano and born again Ronaldinho who has openly expressed his desire to be at top again and backed it up with some solid performances at Milan after the departure of Brazilian team mate Kaka to Real Madrid.
Germany has always risen up to occasion with stars or without stars . They face off with three teams all famous of their hard tackle style of game Ghana, Australia and Serbia in group D. Italy in Group E will have no excuse of not topping their group against New Zealand , Paraguay and Slovakia. Same goes with Netherland in Group E against Denmark, Japan and Cameroon. Though Bolstered by Samuel Eto’o presence in their ranks,, Cameroon will have their task cut out
Spain has finally laid to rest its ghost of faltering at major tournaments. Xabi and Torres have been in great form for their club teams. The Real Madrid Captain Raul Gonzalez who also is the top goal scorer for Spain has only an outside chance of making it to the team. Honduras, Chile and the Swiss has the chance for Upset of the world Cup if they are able to hold this Spanish Armada in group H. However with memories of Germany 2006 still fresh where they sank against a till then off colour France in round of 16, Spanish fans would be wary of meeting either Brazil or Portugal in first knock out stage.
The French dismay over not being seeded in the draw seems to have vanished after they found themselves up against the host SA, Mexico and Uruguay in group A. They would be hoping Thiery Henry hand ball game in qualifiers does not draw FIFA ire.
But Some Things never change. Over hyping their football team by British Media is one of them. After the World Cup Draw was made , England’s top selling newspaper SUN put this on their front page offering a typical English view on Group C
It would serve them better if the English team starring Beckham (his swan song?), Rooney, John terry and Owen ( perhaps)heed the wise words of their team mate Steven Gerrard “We talked ourselves up too much. Never again. In future tournaments we must learn to be humble. Be calm.” This rare candid statement was after their debacle in Germany 2006.
To be fair, reaction from every other team in Group C indicates they all, fancy their chances. The Algerians and Americans both are Bullish about advancing to the knock out stages. The Yanks will be keen to do an encore of their confederation cup show where they surprised everybody including themselves by reaching the finals defeating Spain in semis. While Algeria will do everything to remain afloat lest it gives their bête noire Egyptians a chance to rejoice.
For the time being the Outspoken coaches and Vocal Managers by large have turned into Diplomats relying on clichéd phrases like ‘ respect’ and ‘ not underestimating anyone’. The trend is in line with all major team tournaments. But by the time hosts SA and Mexico face off to kick start the tournament the gloves will be off. Mind games will begin, because it’s not the most talented or the best planned team that will lift the Cup, but the team which also is most strongly willed.