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Group A

Very easy group for Germany to get past into the next round.

Poland Lucky to be in such an easy group. Will come second and progress to next round, thanks to their European pedigree.

Germany Derided as being the weakest German team in ages; not true. Poor in defence, but so what? Germany are the new Brazil - we don't care how many goals you score, we will score more. Any team which can leave Kev Kuranyi out of the squad is strong in attack. Home advantage. Will easily top the group.

Costa Rica Laughable team from the worst confederation in FIFA, in the finals purely because it is imperative that the USA always qualify for the final tournament. Bulk of the team are from a club side which arsed a long-ball fluke against Sydney FC (a club about six months old at the time) in the 2005 World Club Championships of 2005 in Japan. Zero points.

Ecuador Ordinary South American team who are gifted places in World Cup finals by South American home game qualifiers being played at high altitude. Good enough to beat Costa Rica.

Group B

Only one team with real quality in this group, but another side will cause an upset.

England Every four years the English claim they have the best squad since 1966, or ever. This campaign has been no different, but many quarters are already getting the excuses ready. Lauded by themselves as having the best midfield in the world, but the fact is Gerrard and Lampard don't complement each other, Beckham should be left on the bench, and Sean Wright-Phillips should be a starter but thanks to Chelsea isn't in the squad. Toothless attack; even with a fit Rooney, Shearer from 1998 or 2000 would be better than anyone they have. Early exit for the Poms. Worst manager in the whole tournament.

Paraguay No players of any note. Qualified from South America thanks to Uruguay's poor early form in the qualifiers. Will however provide a nasty surprise to England before making an early exit.

Trinidad and Tobago It's tempting to write this team off because they come from the worst confederation in FIFA, but this team is led by mighty Dwight Yorke, their goalie Shaka Hislop took West Ham to the English FA Cup final, and how can you go wrong with a striker named Stern John? Good coach. Their teamwork and desire will give them a spot in the second round.

Sweden The class side of Group B. Attacking force from the best clubs in Europe. Disciplined, tough, technical teamwork. Will slaughter the rest of the group. Number one into the next round.

Group C

This group is nowhere near as hard as people seem to think.

Argentina Building a team around Riquelme might be good enough for Argentina to better most countries in a South American confederation which overall is the weakest it has been for a long time, or for Villareal to defeat most clubs in La Liga or the Champions League. But Arsenal showed how to shut down Argentina's classy playmaker, and coach Pekerman is desperately in need of some new tactics, with not exactly a hell of a lot of time. I'd be very worried right now if I were an Argentinian supporter.

Ivory Coast One man team. There are times when a great player lifts his team to a new level, and there are times when the other ten drag the great player down. Here the player is Didier Drogba, so enough said about that. But it will be seven or eight men who will do the dragging down as the Coastal Ivorians get themselves sent off.

Serbia and Montenegro These guys will shock the other teams in the group and come in second. Hard defence, qualified top of their group in UEFA including Spain. Stankoviiiiiccccc!!

Netherlands Classy, classy outfit. Will saunter past the rest of the group. Will provide great individual performances, with some entertaining infighting, and will resort to compelling, irresistable total football teamwork when required.

Group D

A weak group. God how some countries wish they ended up in this group.

Mexico Almost a complete no-mark team, from the worst confederation in FIFA. Has one player who plays for a decent club, and he's a defender. Early exit for Mexico.

Iran Surprisingly good attacking force. Qualified from the competitive Asian confederation. Will progress.

Angola African football is a shambles. The continent is vastly over-represented in the World Cup finals, so that we can dig up one country like a Senegal, or a Nigeria, or a Cameroon, to excite everyone with the odd upset. None of these teams even qualified this time around with teams the likes of Angola going through instead.

Portugal Their European pedigree and classy players will get them through, topping the group.

Group E

The weakest group in the whole competition.

Italy Who in this scandal-ridden squad won't be more worried about staying out of the newspapers/court/gaol than playing for his country? A bunch of poofs concerned more about their pay packets and hairstyles than performing for their country. Will progress only because Group E is so terrible. Will be immediately knocked out of the second round.

Ghana Another one man team from Africa. Early bye-bye.

USA About to get another European footballing lesson. Won't even trouble Ghana. Zero points, zero goals.

Czech Republic Will be laughing at being in such an easy group. Nice attacking football from their star attacking players, cohesive teamwork. Nine points.

Group F

Without doubt the hardest group of the tournament. This is the Group Of Death.

Brazil It's about time these prima donnas crashed (or should that be, dived) out of the first round.

Croatia Drab bunch of hacks who rate themselves far too highly, but they qualified pretty well and can inflict a punch to opponents who aren't too careful. But this is the World Cup and they won't be good enough.

Australia Rapidly rising team full of ambition, grit, and an innate desire to win. Team is full of talent scattered all over the top leagues of Europe. Tactical play, teamwork, and technical ability are all second to none under one of the best coaches in history. Will stun everyone. Dark horse for the whole tournament.

Japan Tactically, technically proficient side from a competitive confederation. Their athletic fitness and intelligent play will see them through to the next round second behind Australia.

Group G

One of the more competitive groups in this World Cup. Harder to pick than most; who will go through, Switzerland or South Korea?

France France oozes European class and a certain je ne sais quoi. It's about time their forwards actually scored a lot of goals in an international tournament, so along with their classy, though ageing, midfield expect them to waltz through this group.

Switzerland A couple of decent players, pretty hard in defence, but may not be blessed with enough European pedigree to take them through.

South Korea This tough team from the second most competitive confederation will bring the fight to Switzerland to see who goes through to the next round second after France. Their qualifying campaign wasn't perfect, but do they have enough of the class imbibed by Guus Hiddink left over from WC2002, and can Dick Advocaat carry it on?

Togo Honestly, what are they doing here? Cannon fodder for the other three.

Group H

One of the more competitive groups whose members will be spewing about not having ended up in one of the other awful, awful groupings.

Spain Perennial bottlers, but Spain oozes almost as much class as the French and are good in attack, midfield, and defence. Will make the next round at the top of the group, but after that, who knows?

Ukraine A one man team. Qualified well, but World Cup finals is another level. Shevchenko won't get sufficient supplied, and Ukraine will only perform if the star striker is moved to the middle of field. But that won't happen, so it's an early train home for Ukraine.

Tunisia These guys are the best Africa has to offer, but it still won't be enough.

Saudi Arabia Will surprise everyone. No-one knows who the hell they are, but Saudi Arabian clubs dominate Asian champions league competition (including the best Japanese and Korean clubs), and the Saudi national team plucks its members from the best Saudi clubs. The 8-0 result against Germany in 2002 will not be repeated. Second spot after Spain. Allahu Akbar!

Plan your World Cup with the World Cup Match Schedule!!!
Here you can analyse current world football rankings in many different ways.

Other links:
Football Tragic's blog
Australian Football Review

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