Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Portugal, Ivory Coast
There is no need to say much about this group except to call it what it is and that is the ‘Group of Death’. Brazil, Portugal, and the Ivory Coast are three world-class sides and will battle it out for two places that lead to the Round of 16. While North Korea can’t expect much thanks to this draw, the team have done enough in recent friendlies to suggest they have some quality and won’t be blown out by astronomical scores as some experts predict.
What Should Happen
North Korea should lose all three of their matches, but after that it is a real toss up of what will happen in Group G. Certainly Brazil start off as favorites and can ease into the tournament with a victory over North Korea in their opening match. It would be the shock of the tournament if Brazil failed to advance from this group.
Portugal and Ivory Coast will perhaps battle to the final day for second place. The difference will be made by the result of the match where these two teams meet and possibly by the schedule itself. Portugal must take on Brazil in their third and final match, while Ivory Coast play North Korea in their final fixture, which may give Sven-Goran Erikkson’s team a slight advantage.
What Might Happen Instead
We really can’t see the unthinkable happening and having North Korea challenge for one of the top two spots. This is the World Cup though and few gave Cameroon a chance against Argentina in 1990 or Senegal against France in 2002. Still, the only real surprise we will likely see is Brazil failing to qualify for the Round of 16. It could happen if Dunga’s side are not 100% focused on the task at hand.
Ivory Coast and Portugal’s match on June 15th in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandel Bay Stadium should be one of the highlights of the entire group stage. There is so much riding on this match and its importance to claiming a spot in the next round can’t be dismissed. It has the potential to be a World Cup classic if both teams decide that they will be going for victory.
Players To Watch
Kaka is coming off a fairly disappointing first season with Real Madrid, so the best tonic would be for the gifted playmaker and former FIFA World Player of the Year to lead Brazil to glory in South Africa. If Brazil are to win it all, they will need Kaka to pull the strings and set the tempo.
North Korea’s hopes for goals will come down to the play of Jong Tae-Se. The “Rooney of Asia’ as he has been coined has been in superb form in North Korea’s friendlies scoring a brace against Greece and once against Nigeria. He has boldly claimed he will score in every group stage match.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s ability is unquestioned, what is asked is whether he can lead Portugal to success at the international level. This World Cup comes at the perfect time for a player entering the peak years of his career. Deadly when taking on defenders and from set-pieces, Ronaldo will seek to show leadership as well during this tournament and help Portugal advance from this difficult group.
Will he play or won’t he? The hopes of an entire nation rest on the fractured arm of Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. Without him the Ivory Coast are a talented and physical side that would be a good test for any team, with him the team are one of the tournament’s darkhorses capable of going extremely far.
One Game, One World Prediction
Brazil will finish atop Group G we predict, though like in so many others groups we don’t really see them having it so easy or necessarily winning all three of their matches. As we mentioned, North Korea will go three and out, but we really doubt they will be embarrassed. Second place will go to Ivory Coast in our opinion. Obviously they will be better equipped with Drogba, but even without we see Ivory Coast as a side that has one last tournament to make a splash on the world stage. Then again it all depends on the two sides’ head-to-head match-up. It could be Portugal through just as easily if they win that one.
- Ivory Coast
- North Korea
What are your predictions and thoughts on the Group of Death? Send them over our way and let us know what you are thinking!