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For the 32 teams that qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the wait is over for the draw. The groups are set, and the teams now know who they will play in their first game and in their group.
As always, some teams got a great draw and some got a scary draw. No matter what kind of draw a team has received, they still have only a few days to prepare for their opening game.
Check out the updated 50 burning questions heading into the World Cup. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/396055-50-burning-questions-for-the-2010-fifa-world-cup
The draws can be broken down and reasonable guesses can be made to which teams will advance to the round of sixteen. Also, a look at a potential nightmare for FIFA in the 2010 World Cup, due to the lack of action regarding the handball felt round the world.
Group A (FIFA Rankings)
1. South Africa (86)
2. Mexico (15)
3. Uruguay (19)
4. France (7)
The host country has never failed to reach the round of 16, but there is a first time for everything. South Africa will have a very hard time of advancing out of this group. The one bright spot is the Bafana Bafana will have the home crowd support.
Mexico has advanced to the round of 16 in the last four World Cups. Mexico finished qualifying in second place in CONCACAF, behind the United States. A fifth trip to the second round is very possible for El Tri.
Uruguay needed to defeat Costa Rica to advance to the World Cup. The 1930 winners missed the last final in Germany in 2006. Do not sleep on the Charrúas to make a second round break through if they can beat Mexico.
France gets a nice draw after the controversial Thierry Henry handball eliminated Ireland. The French become a de-facto number one seed with their draw into this group. Les Bleus should get a chance to get back to the World Cup final again by advancing out of this group. France did not score a lot of goals in qualifying, but plays stingy defense.
Advancing: France, Mexico
1. Argentina (8)
2. Nigeria (22)
3. South Korea (52)
4. Greece (12)
Argentina is the most interesting team in the tournament. They have the talent it to win it all with Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. However, the antics of their coach, Diego Maradona, could be their undoing. One thing is for sure, the Albicelestes can make plenty of noise either good or bad.
Nigeria needed two late goals on the last day of African qualifying to earn their spot in the draw. The Super Eagles do not have the depth they have had in other years. Nigeria is also dealing with rumors that coach Shaibu Amodu might be replaced by Italian Roberto Mancini.
South Korea is enjoying its seventh straight appearance in the World Cup. They are the best team in the AFC qualifying group. South Korea is also unbeaten in 27 straight matches until a 3-1 loss to Serbia.
Greece is still trying to find success after their unlikely Euro 2004 win. They followed up that win by missing the 2006 World Cup. The Greeks needed to win a playoff to get into the tournament and have plenty of stars to make a run in South Africa.
Advancing: Argentina, Greece
1. England (9)
2. United States (14)
3. Algeria (28)
4. Slovenia (33)
England was the most dominant team in European qualifying for the World Cup. The Three Lions are one of the favorites to win it all, with Italian Fabio Capello as coach. England will have Wayne Rooney and David Beckham will come off the bench to lead them to what could be their second World Cup title. The draw was nearly perfect for England.
The United States gets a chance to prove their run in the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup was not a fluke. Bob Bradley and the Yanks need to at least make it to the second round. The USA cannot get caught up in the hype of playing England in their first game. The Stars and Stripes will also need to find replacements for Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu.
Algeria clinched their spot in the World Cup by beating arch rival Egypt in a playoff. This is their first appearance in the FIFA final since 1986. Les Fennecs will have to work hard to pull out a trip to the second round.
Slovenia shocked the soccer world by defeating Russia in the European playoffs. They will look to do better than the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where they went home pointless. Slovenia plays stingy defense and used that defense to get to South Africa.
Advancing: England, United States
Group D (Group of Death Runner Up)
1. Germany (6)
2. Australia (21)
3. Serbia (20)
4. Ghana (37)
Germany has a chance to go far in South Africa in 2010. As always, the Germans play solid, all around soccer. Michael Ballack leads a team that is full of excellent players, but not full of stars. Look for Germany to better their third place finish in the 2006 World Cup.
Australia’s move from the Oceanic Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation paid off with an easy qualification in to the 2010 World Cup. The Socceroos gave eventual 2006 champion Italy all they could handle in the last World Cup, and in 2005 played Germany tough in the Confederations Cup. Do not sleep on Australia as a dark horse to make a move in this tournament.
Serbia finished in first place in their qualifying group for the first time in team history. This team finished ahead of France to earn their spot in South Africa. The Beli Orlovi is lead by scrappy defender Nemanja Vidic. Coach Radi Antic has Serbia in position to make a run in this tournament.
Ghana could be the most successful African team behind Egypt and is making its second straight World Cup appearance. The Black Stars will go as far as their star Michael Essien can take them. In Germany, Essien led Ghana into the second round. A trip past the first round would be quite a feat this time for Ghana.
Advancing: Germany, Australia
Learn about all the 32 countries' captains for the world cup. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/403065-oh-captain-my-captain-32-men-wholl-lead-in-battle-of-south-africa-2010
The Netherlands win a lot of games, but not a lot of trophies. The Oranje played in a very easy qualifying group in order to get into the tournament. Do not be surprised if the Netherlands make an early exit. If the Netherlands can be more than a group stage hero, and not a knock out round zero, they could make noise.
Denmark was a shocker to qualify for the World Cup beating Portugal and Sweden to advance out of their group. The Danes have also beaten the Netherlands in five of their last six matches. Longstanding coach Morten Olson has gotten the best from his players. A trip to the second round is possible from this Denmark team.
Japan’s coach, Takeshi Okada, wants his team to reach the semifinals in the 2010 World Cup. That might be a lot to ask after their failure to get out of the second round in Germany. For Japan to have any chance to equal their 2006 mark, they will need dead-ball specialist Shunsuke Nakamura to make some magic. Another early departure is more likely.
Cameroon looked like they were about to miss their second straight World Cup. That was until they fired Otto Pfister and hired Paul Le Guen. The Lions Indomptables will go as far as striker Samuel Eto’o can take them. A trip to the second round is very possible for this team.
Advancing: Denmark, Cameroon
3. New Zealand
The defending champions got a great draw, but an easy group will only hide the fact that this team has only gotten older. Marcello Lippi is under fire for the team's less than convincing matches after the Azzurri won the tournament in 2006. Italy still has the best goaltender, Gianluigi Buffon, and inspirational defender Fabio Cannavaro. Italy can take heart of the fact that they are 3-0 against their group in recent meetings and have outscored them 10-4 as well.
Paraguay finished a very respectable third in South American qualifying, behind Brazil and Chile. The best Paraguay has ever done in the World Cup was reaching the round of sixteen. Paraguay will rely on their talented strikers to move on past the group stage. They will be playing for a second place finish in this group.
New Zealand could just be happy to be in South Africa. This is the All Whites second appearance in the World Cup. New Zealand might be looking at three losses and a trip home. The Kiwis will need a magical run if they are to advance to the second round.
Slovakia has qualified for their first ever World Cup. To do so, Slovakia won its qualifying group. Slovakia is a solid team and will be batting Paraguay for second place in this group. They could be the surprise of the tournament if they advance.
Advancing: Italy, Paraguay
Group G (The Group of Death)
2. North Korea
3. Ivory Coast
Brazil is the only team to have qualified for every World Cup and have the most tournament wins, with five. Once again in South Africa, the Brazilians will be a favorite to win it all. Brazil has a ton of talent, as always, and coach Dunga has done a good job of getting all the players to play as a team. This team has a plenty of creative players starting with Kaka in the midfield and Louis Fabiano at striker.
North Korea is making its first appearance since 1966, and look to make a quick exit. The Group G draw was about as bad as it could get for North Korea. They could lose all three games. The only thing North Korea can hope for is doing better than South Korea.
The Ivory Coast squad may have the best chance for an African team to win the World Cup. Les Éléphants could be cursing their luck, as far as how the has draw went for them, two finals in a row. Still, the Ivory Coast will always have a chance to win with striker Didier Drogba. However, they might need some luck to reach the second round.
Portugal needed to win a playoff against Bosnia and Herzegovina, after finishing second to Denmark in group play of European qualifying. They spent most of qualifying without star striker Cristiano Ronaldo due to injury. Portugal needs to make it to the second round if coach Carlos Queirós wants to keep his job.
Advancing: Brazil, Portugal
1. Spain (1)
2. Switzerland (18)
3. Honduras (38)
4. Chile (17)
The main question for this Spanish team is in regards to which team will show up for this tournament. The one that cruised to the Euro title in 2008? Or the team that lost to the USA in the Confederations Cup? Spain has plenty of stars with Fernando Torres, David Villa and more. La Furia Roja had better make it to the final four, or coach Vicente Del Bosque might be a sacrificed to appease their fans.
Switzerland woke up after a loss to tiny Luxembourg at home. The Swiss then turned it on and qualified first in their weak group. Switzerland more than likely is one of three teams playing for second place behind Spain. In Euro 2008, the Swiss were eliminated after two games.
Honduras can thank the USA for giving them their automatic berth into the World Cup. This is only the second time in national team history that Honduras has qualified for the tournament. That was the 1982 World Cup, where Los Catrachos were able to manage draws with Spain and Northern Ireland. A loss to Yugoslavia ended their '82 World Cup run. Honduras is playing for second in this group.
Chile could be the one team in this group to steal the first from Spain. La Roja finished second behind Brazil in South American qualifying. Chile is back in the World Cup for the first time since 1998. They have a very young and talented squad that could make a run if they get into the second round.
Advancing: Spain, Chile
Read about all 32 World Cup Teams' coaches. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/402612-2010-fifa-world-cup-ranking-the-coaches
The Rest of the Tournament
Group A winner France will take on Group B runner-up Greece in the second round. Les Blues will win a hard fought match.
Group B winner Argentina will face Group A runner-up Mexico. The Albicelestes will squeak into the third round with a win.
Group C winner England will face group D runner-up Australia. The Three Lions will have no problem dispatching their former penal colony.
The Germans will be the winner of Group D and will play Group C runner-up USA. The Germans will be efficient in their return trip to the third round.
Denmark will be the winner of Group E and will face Group F runner-up Paraguay. The Danes will advance over Paraguay in a tight game.
Italy will breeze through to be the Group F winners and will play Group E runner-up Cameroon. The Azzurri will play tough defense and struggle but move on in penalty kicks.
Group G winner Brazil will face Group H runner-up Chile. Brazil will win in a goal fest over Chile to advance.
Group H winner Spain will feel like they got shafted by winning their group by having to face Group G runner-up Portugal. La Furia Roja will win an instant classic to move on.
In the third round, France will fall to England and Three Lions will advance to next round, controversially. Argentina will face Germany and in-spite of Maradona will prevail over the Germans.
Denmark will lose to a super talented Brazil team as they continue to cruise through this tournament. Italy will outlast Spain, who is physically worn out after facing Portugal in the second round, even though the Italians look older by the minute.
Maradona will almost cost his team a spot in the finals with is antics and Italy will fail to advance to the World Cup Final. Facing Argentina will be Brazil who will oust a very tough Three Lions team of England.
In the final, Brazil will break Argentina's heart by beating them in a penalty kick shootout. The win will give the Brazilians their sixth World Cup title.
All will not be well in soccer, even with the win by Brazil in South Africa. FIFA will regret not doing something about the Henry handball scandal.
There will be no less than three controversial missed calls, or calls that never should have been made. One of these mistakes will also cost one team their chance to advance.
FIFA will face accusations that the tournament is rigged and that only the big named teams are allowed to advance by favorable calls. FIFA will be forced to add instant replay or extra officials to quiet the masses who may turn against them.