From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.33 :: NO.24 :: Jun. 17, 2010
Only seven teams — Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France — have laid their hands on the World Cup. Of the teams looking to break their hegemony, Spain boasts of the most talented, cohesive squad and enters the tournament with an awe-inspiring record, writes Karthik Krishnaswamy.
History beckons Maradona
In this third and final part of team analysis, A. Vinod takes a look at the nine giants.
TEAM ANALYSIS/BRAZIL (GROUP G)
Dunga has a point to prove
Brazil, the perennial favourite, is drawn in a tough group with Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea. But it would be a great surprise if it fails to cross the first hurdle.
TEAM ANALYSIS/ENGLAND (GROUP C)
A vibrant midfield
This time, English fans have been enthused by the imperious form displayed by the side in Group 6 of the European qualifiers with eight straight wins and just one loss, to Ukraine. And the defeat came only after England had made sure of its berth for a 13th World Cup.
TEAM ANALYSIS/FRANCE (GROUP A)
Tough, at least on paper
France has a favourable draw, but the moot point is whether it would be able to capitalise on this advantage and turn its fortunes around.
TEAM ANALYSIS/GERMANY (GROUP D)
Germany, of late, has been riddled with problems. If the suicide of their first-choice goalkeeper, Robert Enke, last year was a severe blow, the Germans have suffered many other setbacks due to injuries thereafter. They will now miss the services of their talismanic skipper, Michael Ballack, holding midfielder Simon Rolfes and veteran defender Heiko Westermann.
TEAM ANALYSIS/ ITALY (GROUP F)
The Italians rarely played scintillating football during the qualification phase, preferring instead to play their own brand based on solidity and a hard work ethic. In South Africa, too, they should follow this method with a cohesive team that includes as many as eight survivors from the 2006 winning squad.
TEAM ANALYSIS/ NETHERLANDS (GROUP E)
A mix of flair & discipline
The Dutch, who are always competitive, have a good frontline and midfield, but the defence and goal give room for concern.
TEAM ANALYSIS/SPAIN (GROUP H)
Underachiever turns favourite
The hallmark of Spain's play is grace, style and firepower. The attractive short-passing game that the team seems committed to would certainly prove more than a handful for its rivals.
TEAM ANALYSIS/PORTUGAL (GROUP G)
A dark horse
Given the tough draw, the Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz's gameplan would be to keep it tight at the back and wait for Cristiano Ronaldo to produce his well-known touch of magic.
STARS TO WATCH
Men of influence
Breaking away from populist picks, Raakesh Natraj takes a look at the less fancied, but equally capable players who have the game to announce themselves on the biggest stage.
BRIAN GLANVILLE COLUMN
Dearth of quality at the top
The game's outstanding manager must surely be the “Special One”, alias Jose Mourinho, now at Real Madrid, after his European Cup triumph, his second. But what nation could afford him? The top managers tend to work for clubs these days, writes Brian Glanville.
‘Asian football is full of talent'
“My goal is to see Asia and its teams take their rightful place in the pantheon of world football. India — with its big population, powerful economy, and rich history of football — has a big role to play in the realisation of this dream,” says Mohammed bin Hammam in this email interview to Ayon Sengupta.
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