Given their massive population, given football or soccer which is an ENGLISH word before any of you morons complain is that nation's #1 sport to say the quality of the players Mexico have produced is poor is a gross understatement. Five years ago Mexico thrashed Brazil to win the U-17 World Cup. Five years on that triumph has proved to be a false dawn. Mexico are a team of umpa lumpas, without a single player over 6ft in midfield, have a crap goalkeeper and an attack which will be lead by the collective failures that are Dos Santos, Vela and Franco. Mexico play pretty football but will fall to a physical approach.

Key Players : Torrado , Dos Santos, Hernandez
Prospects : First Round Exit


Were tipped to be the first hosts to be eliminated in the group stages before their encouraging showing in last years Confederations Cup under Joel Santana in which they fell to a late Dani Alves goal against Brazil and took European Champions Spain to extra time in a five goal thriller. Unfortunately for South Africa the inept Carlos Alberto Parreira is back in charge. CAP of course lead Brazil to World Cup glory back in 1994 playing insipid, Benitez style football and has been a complete failure since, managing no less than 11 different teams. Despite CAP and a lack of talent FIFA and their referees will do everything in their power to help the hosts make it into the last 16 and maybe those loathsome Vuvuzela's will drive their opponents to distraction.

Key Players : Mokoena, Modise, Parker
Prospects : Last 16


The first World Champions are back on the big stage after an eight year absence, their tiny population reaping the rewards of sudden explosion of talent. Assuming Tabarez goes with a three man defence, Lugano will be flanked by Godin and Caceres. All three highly competent defenders. The form of goalkeeper Muslera, once a weak-link, improved by leaps and bounds during the second half of the season and Gargano is a stockily built DM with an explosive shot. Uruguay have a formidable attack. Forlan is one of the best strikers in the World and Ajax's Luis Suarez one of the most hyped. Cavani, the Uruguayan Van Basten, is a powerful, athletic striker with a penchant for scoring amazing goals. The disconnect in the team is in midfield. Lodeiro aside they lack creativity. The weigh of history has weighed heavy on Uruguay in the past. If they can cope with the pressure and don't suffer stage fright they have enough firepower to shoot down the rest of their group rivals.

Key Players : Lugano, Gargano, Forlan
Prospects : Last 16/QF


Beaten finalists at the last World Cup, France are more likely to repeat their 2002 showing and fall to an embarrassing first round exit because they are coached by a fucking idiot and his stupidity is matched by those at the French Football Federation who have kept him there. Henry is the last survivor from the 1998 World Cup winning side and he should get limited playing time because he's only fit for the MLS. Domenech has made some surprising selections, most notably Planus who is expected to be one of the centrebacks and Clichy & Sagna - overcoming his aversion to picking Arsenal players. France look very suspect in attack. Anelka is a flat track bully, Cisse has been prolific - playing in the second rate Greek league and Govou has ten bad games for every good. France have rarely convinced under Domenech, they scraped through to the finals thanks to Henry's cheating and without Zidane to hold everything together moral must be at an all time low. The fabulous talents of Ribery and Gourcuff are France's only hope.

Key Players : Lloris, Gourcuff, Ribery
Prospects : First Round Exit



As usual Argentina are one of the pre tournament favourites and, as usual, the so called experts have overlooked some glaring deficiencies in the team which of course start with coach Maradona who has called up over 90 players since his appointment in November 2008 though wisely appears to have made a concerted effort to include as many tall (by Argentinean standards) players as possible. Samuel aside Argentina have an awful defence in which Heinze and Demichelis in particular are huge liabilities. Thug Mascherano is another liability in midfield, kicking people is not be tolerated as defending outside of the EPL. Veron is still entrusted with playmaking duties while Di Maria is expected to provide a threat from the flanks. The fantastically talented Pastore could well be the teams secret weapon if given a chance to shine. Up front Argentina are truly blessed because even though World Player of the Year Messi rarely performs in an Argentina shirt Maradona can call upon the tireless Tevez and penalty goal assassin Milito. Argentina should take advantage of a favourable draw before an expected QF meeting with arch rivals Germany.

Key Players : Samuel, Veron, Messi
Prospects : Quarter-Finals


When Lars Largerback resigned after failing to take Sweden to the World Cup football fans could have been forgiven for thinking they saw the last of this tedious man and his tedious, suffocating brand of football. That's when the idiots at the Nigerian FA stepped in. Largerback seems an incredible choice for a squad with pace and power on the wings and in attack but no flair in midfield, no flair was the Largerback trademark. Nigeria's second group game against Greece, which could possibly be one of the worst World Cup games of all time, may well determine which of the two teams, if any, join Argentina in the last 16.

Key Players : Yobo, Odemwingie, Martins
Prospects : Quarter-Finals



The euphoria that followed qualification has all but disappeared with fans and experts resigned to another quarter-final exit. The big name players that broke their balls to impress their new no nonsense coach have become complacent in the knowledge that their spots are safe after Capello discarded the likes of Young, Agbonlahor, Johnson and Bent - players that should have been in line for a starting spot. Thus little has changed over previous regimes and England will line up with the same old faces that failed under SGE and McClaren. The brittle King comes in as a replacement for the equally brittle Ferdinand. The other starting centre-back, Terry, has had an awful season every bit as bad on the pitch as he did off it. Carragher is well past his best and Upson was never anything more than a mediocre defender. Joe Cole, who is still waiting to realise his potential at 29, will probably line-up on the left side of midfield while the failed Gerrard and Lampard combination continue in the middle. Even more depressing/distressing is the prospect of anti-footballer Heskey playing alongside Rooney in attack. On the plus side Ashley Cole is the best left-back in the World and if Rooney can regain the form he showed before injury he can take England deep into the competition with Serbia potentially the only serious obstacle in the way of a semi-final place.

Key Players : Ashley Cole, Lennon, Rooney
Prospects : Semi-Finals


America stunned the World at last year's Confederation Cup, beating Spain in the semi-finals before losing to Brazil in the final, having lead 2-0. In stark contrast to their main group rivals England, confidence is high after key players Onyewu and Dempsey have made quicker than expected returns from injuries that threatened their World Cup participation. The midfield is by far the teams strong point. Donovan and Dempsey are a real threat on the flanks while the central midfield pairing of Bradley Jr and Clark will provide much needed cover for what, individually at least, is a mediocre defence. The US are still searching for a consistent goalscorer up front, Altidore is a Heskey level forward with a goalscoring record and first touch to match. Hopes rest on Buddle, a 29 year old who is back in the squad after a seven year absence.

Key Players : Howard, Bradley, Donovan
Prospects : Last 16



Although Lowe's squad has been decimated by injuries the absence of their ponderous, un-inspiring and static captain Ballack will prove to be a blessing in disguise with the brilliant Schweinsteiger more than capable of providing this young and inexperienced team with leadership and drive from midfield. Ozil is a wonderfully gifted playmaker, something Germany have lacked since Moeller. Klose, Podolski and Gomez have been misfiring domestically but Lowe has other options namely Kiessling and Cacau, who is excellent in the air. Defence though remains a problem. Germany lack World Class centrebacks. Poorer Germany sides than this have overachieved in the World Cup finals, it's in their DNA.

Key Players : Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Ozil
Prospects : Quarter-Finals/Semi-Finals


Only Brazil have a better back four than Serbia. Vidic has long been established as a World Class defence and only injuries have prevented him from succeeding Nesta as the best defender of his generation. Vidic is flanked by a full back pairing the envy of World football, both Ivanovic and Kolarov are strong defensively and going forward. Ivanovic is a threat in the air while Kolarov has semtex in his left foot. Nedved look-a-like Krasic is the teams standout midfielder and on the verge of a big move and Liverpool bound Jovanovic, who scored five goals in eight qualifying games, occupies the other flank. If the rest of the team was as good as Serbia's defence they'd be in with a real shot of getting to the semi-finals but alas Stankovic's best days are behind him and strikers Pantelic and the giant Zigic haven't exactly left defences in their wake in spotty careers. If Serbia can overcome their stage fright they could give England some serious problems in the last 16.

Key Players : Vidic, Ivanovic, Krasic
Prospects : Last 16


Packed with European based players but a poor goalkeeper and terrible attack.


Have back-doored their way into the finals through another confederation. Their qualification in 2006 was supposed to be a watershed moment for soccer in a sports mad country but there is no evidence of that in this mediocre squad. It will probably take Australia another generation to produce international class footballers.



"If it's not Dutch it's not much" as the old saying goes. Sneijder and Robben were THE standout midfielders in Europe this season and even if Robben struggles to recover from his untimely injury Van Marwijk has a number of other options including Elia, who along with Van Der Weil, are tipped to be the latest breakout stars from the rich Dutch production line. As usual Holland aren't particularly strong in defence but with Van Bommel and De Jong on sentry duty they shouldn't be overly exposed. If there is a weakness it's in attack. Given their history surprisingly this Dutch team lack a World Class forward. Van Persie is every bit as complete as Bergkamp or Van Basten but his brittle body means his teams can't rely on him when needed the most. Huntelaar also ticks all the boxes technically but often appears detached from the rest of the team and has endured a frustrating season at Milan. Kuyt has spent so long on the flanks he's probably forgotten how to play in the box and his first touch is atrocious. Without a World Class forward it's difficult to see how the Dutch will overcome Brazil, potential quarter-final opponents.

Key Players : Van Bommel, Sneijder, Van Persie
Prospects : Quarter-Finals


Romantic memories of the 1990 World Cup still resonate, for those of us old enough to remember. Eto'o is on another planet compared to Roger Milla but Cameroon lack the creativity in midfield to provide ammunition for the Inter striker. Cameroon probably have the best defenders in African football and in Kameni a fantastic goalkeeper. For my own personal amusement I hope BONG gets a game.

Key Players : Kameni, Bassong, Eto'o
Prospects : Last 16


Simon Kjaer- the best young defender on the planet. That's all you need to know about Denmark.



This Italy squad epitomise everything wrong with the Italian game - a team of aging, fading stars coached by a crook. The likes of Cannavaro, still unforgivably captain and starting centre back, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Camoranesi and Gattuso should have long since retired from international football but Lippi has the Italian coaching trait of distrusting younger players - like his contemporaries Capello and Ancelotti. With Criscito and Maggio at full back, the giant Bonucci partnering Chiellini, Montolivo running midfield and the predatory instincts of the brilliant Pazzini as the focal point of the attack, the ever awesome Buffon in goal (it's not difficult is it?) and that's not to mention Cassano, WORLD CHAMPIONS Italy would have been a match for most teams but alas Lippi will play it safe, panic, experiment then with confidence low and pressure sky high Italy will fail - most probably to a quarter-final defeat to Spain. Shame on Lippi, shame on the FIGC and shame on Italian football.

Key Players : Chiellini, De Rossi, Pazzini
Prospects : Quarter-Finals



It should be no surprise that Dunga's Brazil team play a typically un-Brazilian brand of football - he spent the peak years of his career in Italy and Germany and the best traits of both footballing cultures manifest themselves in his Brazil team. This is a physically intimidating squad with the best defence in the World, marshalled by the majestic Lucio, the World's best goalkeeper - Julio 'Hail' Cesar and in a Maicon one of the most fearsome attacking fullbacks of all time. Kaka' and Robinho provide the flair but this is in effect a team with an awe inspiring counter attack that are deadly on set pieces. In his four years in charge the rookie coach has ended the international careers (for the time being at least) of sacred cows Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano, lead Brazil to victory in the Copa America, with a ruthless destruction of Argentina in the final, and the Confederations Cup. On July the 11th the biggest prize of all awaits.

Key Players : Lucio, Maicon, Kaka'
Prospects : Winners


Once again the CIV, not to be confused with the HIV which is seriously bad shit, have been drawn in the group of death. Drogba's possible loss is/could be a huge blow. Without him their chances of getting out of the group are severely compromised. Dindane is a shocking finisher and Kalou and Gervinho are more effective on the flanks. There is a lot of muscle in centre midfield but the main problem is at the back. Boubacar Barry is a comedy goalkeeper with a comedy name.

Key Players : Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure, Drogba
Prospects : First Round/Last 16 (with Drogba)


Queiroz is as universally disliked in Portugal as Domenech is in France, having been on the brink of elimination at one stage during the qualifying campaign. There are too many broken down bodies in defence - Carvalho, Ferreira and Miguel though Queiroz does have a number of inexperienced options - Duda, Coentrao and the excellent Alves. Nani's loss is a monstrous blow and leaves Portugal's midfield one paced - Deco and Mendes are past their prime and the once much hyped Veloso, now 24, has fell off the radar. Much rests on Danny, the excellent Zenit St Petersburg midfielder who has been crippled with injuries in recent years and of course Ronaldo who has yet to reproduce his extraordinary club form on the international stage.

Key Players : Alves, Danny, Ronaldo
Prospects : Last 16



The European Champions are favourites to win their first every World Cup and therein lies the problem - Spain have never went into a World Cup facing the levels of pressure the likes of Brazil, Italy and Germany thrive on. They also don't appear to have a World Cup winning defence - while Puyol and Pique are as good a centre back pairing as any in World football there will be a big drop off if either is injured or suspended and Ramos and Capdevilla can be exposed at full back - if Spain's opponents get the ball off them. Spain's midfield is packed with flair with Xabi Alonso sitting deep behind midgets Silva, Xavi and Iniesta. Up front Villa is the World's best striker, statistically, while the brittle but explosive Torres provides the muscle to add to Villa's subtlety. Llorente, the only other striker in the squad, gives Del Bosque an aerial option off the bench. Spain have the toughest route to the final, with Portugal, Italy and Argentina standing in the way of an expected meeting with Brazil.

Key Players : Pique, Xavi, Villa
Prospects : Final