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World Cup 2010: Group G Match Previews

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One Great Season

Results from the first day of play in the Group of Death will depend largely on who shows up ... literally and figuratively. A decision is supposed to be made on Didier Drogba two hours before Ivory Coast’s match with Portugal.

Will he show up? Will Cristiano Ronaldo finally show up at a World Cup? Will a unified or a divided Brazil squad show up?

So far, for me, group play has been a bit of a snoozer, but you can expect that to change with Group G.

Ivory Coast v. Portugal

This may be the most crucial match to decide the second spot in the elimination round. Both of these teams are full of talent, but injuries could hamper each. Here are a few keys for both squads:

Ivory Coast

+ Drogba will make or break this team, which already has troubles scoring with him in the lineup. With him, it's a draw. Without him, it's three points for Portugal.

+ The Toure brothers must be big. I Included this bullet point simply so I can say "Yaya." Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue will provide a formidable test for Ronaldo. It's incumbent upon YaYa Toure and his fellow midfielders to create chances for Salomon Kalou.


+ Ronaldo must show up for his country. He is the anti-Miroslav Klose (who is pants for his club, but a world-beater on the international stage for Germany). The loss of Nani on the wing puts even more pressure on Ronaldo's well-chiseled shoulders.

+ This team is loaded in the midfield and should be able to exploit the Elephants' weaknesses at that part of the pitch.

Prediction: Portugal 1-0

Guarantee: You will not see more diving in any other match

Brazil v. North Korea

This has the potential to be as close as the USA v. Angola basketball game in 1996. Yet, it is so intriguing because there are many unknowns. This game should tell us a lot about where Brazil's mindset is.


+ Reports of infighting are nearly synonymous with Brazil and the World Cup. So are the denials. However, one was allegedly caught on tape involving Dani Alves and Julio Baptista. Can all these egos mesh into one cohesive unit?

+ A lot has been made by writers (including myself) of this a-typical Brazilian unit. This is not Joga Bonito. This is more of a defensive-minded squad that progresses directly upfield with less flair than in years past. However, if there was ever a team Brazil could toy with ... North Korea could be it.

North Korea

+ Korea DPR's strength is its defense. I'm sure they'll start with some 4-4-2 formation, but don’t kid yourselves. Ten of those players will duck inside the 25-yard mark. I'm sure they will frustrate the Brazilians for a while ...

+ ... but how long will that last? That's the key. The longer North Korea can annoy Brazil, the more potential there is for one of those self-destructing moments (own goal, red card, etc.). If Korea can hold its ground, this could make for an entertaining match. If it doesn't, this will make for an entertaining mismatch.

Prediction: Brazil 3-0

Guarantee: Several of my friends will receive multiple texts that will mostly likely begin with "Did you see that Brazilian girl?"

Click here for Ben's bio and an archive of his previous stories.

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