Four of the eight World Cup groups have now put opening game play in history.
France stumbled, but showed glimpses of what it is capable of. England once again looked like the team most connoisseurs of football thought they were (not). Argentina opened up with an easy win in a mostly practice tempo. Germany proved that it will once again be a force to be reckoned with.
And while most eyes were focused on the performance of the big teams, many were wondering which country's squad will turn into this championship's Cinderella story.
If 20 years of closely following the sport would serve me right, my guess is that we have not yet seen that team in action.
South Africa, Mexico, and Uruguay all seemed deprived of explosiveness and talent. The United States showed desire, but appeared to have a number of problems that teams will be happy to expose in the direct elimination rounds (out of sync defense and lack of playmakers) assuming that team USA makes it out of its group.
Algeria and Slovenia put many to sleep. Greece made people wonder how they qualified out of the tough European region, which is likely why South Korea looked like a team better than it actually is.
Australia looked tired.
Serbia was suspected to be capable of turning heads even before the championship began, but the Serbians made too many careless (mental and tactical) mistakes against a Ghanaian team that in return showed good athleticism, but few creative qualities.
Nigeria played a good game, but I have to wonder if a narrow loss to Argentina makes the Nigerians look more dangerous than they actually are.
So after eight games, I am still looking for the team that will put the prediction brackets of the experts in shambles.
Who Are the Suspects?
In my opinion, of the remaining teams, the ones most capable of putting a Cinderella hat on are Denmark, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Chile.
The opener in Group E between the Netherlands and Denmark will go a long way in providing us with answers on the first team on my list. Does this Denmark team hide the next Laudrup, or was the success from the early '90s the one-and-done achievement of the Danes remains to be seen.
While Ivory Coast seems to be many people's most favored African side (and that is why I had to include them on my list), to me, the African team that has the greatest chance of reaching at least a quarterfinal is Cameroon.
Of course, they first have to prove that they are good enough to get out of their group over Denmark.
But if they are to achieve this, they will likely have a real opportunity against an Italian side that this time around I have a very difficult time believing in, even if I correctly picked the Azzuri to win the title four years ago.
The last team on my list, Chile, is quite possibly the squad I have been most impatient to watch outside of the top teams.
If they find a way to progress out of Spain's group, they will have the opportunity to provide major fireworks against the winner of the so-called "Group of Death" where Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast will have to decide which one of them will have to book an early departure flight from South Africa.
And I firmly believe that Chile can provide the light show at this year's World Cup parade.
Regardless of how things pan out, the vuvuzelas will be making their noise, people will be dancing on the streets while players are dancing on the field , and we will be enjoying a multi-cultural show of global proportions.
That's what the World Cup represents and that is why every four years football becomes more than just a sport.
So tie up the belts, warn your bosses at work that you will have an altered office schedule, and enjoy the show from South Africa.
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