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World Cup Q&A

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Tim Vickery | 05:28 UK time, Monday, 31 May 2010

This week some of our regular bloggers will be answering your World Cup questions. South American expert Tim Vickery is first to put his neck on the block.

GENERAL

Q. Who do the bloggers think will be the real surprise package this time around - both overachieving and underperforming?
Ben, Thailand

A. The World Cup qualification campaign in South America is so long, with so many games to follow that, to be honest, my knowledge outside the continent is very sketchy.

I had a quick look at some of the African sides in January and I am watching a few warm-up matches but, in general, I will get to know the other teams during the competition.

I cannot give an authoritative reply but I think and hope that the surprises this time round will be for positive reasons. In 2002, I thought that in general the surprises were negative. Almost everyone who had come through the European season was physically on their knees and the quality suffered as a result. There was a levelling down.

Fifa had tried to protect the World Cup since, with the cut-off point for the club season, trying to give players more time to recover. So now I hope that any surprises will come from the fascinating dynamic of international football - the fact that players from all over the world gain top-level experience in Europe, which widens the spread of nations who can be competitive.

Q. Which unheard of players will shine in this tournament?
Faraz, UK

A. Alexis Sanchez of Chile, Luis Suarez and perhaps Nicolas Lodeiro of Uruguay and I hope Paraguay can get the best out of Cristian Riveros.

Alexis SanchezChile's Alexis Sanchez could make a big impact at the World Cup

Q. In its current format the World Cup is predominantly made up of teams mainly from Europe and the Americas. Do you think it's time Fifa changes the rules so that more countries from Africa and Asia participate in the finals. After all it is the 'World' Cup?
Amit, UK

A. I would have thought that since the expansion to 32, both Africa and Asia are adequately represented and that there is no longer a problem in this area, although I would welcome comments from people who disagree. Certainly, I agree with the statement that it should be a 'World Cup' - ie with all the continents represented.

There is a case for arguing that in the Stanley Rous years FIFA was not sufficiently active in developing the less traditional continents - if they don't come to the party, lose and learn from their mistakes then how are they going to grow?

Q. Do you think England have a good chance of winning the World Cup?
Luke Anderson, England

A. I have seen very little of them and nothing at all in qualifying so it is hard to give an opinion. Winning the thing might be expecting too much but I am hoping for a better level of performance than in recent World Cups.

I wonder if the Sven-Goran Eriksson years were undone by that 5-1 victory back in 2001. It ended up being a good result for Germany - they finally had to get to grips with learning how to defend with a back four. And it seemed to leave England stuck in a groove of trying to sneak one on the break.

The team ended up playing such pallid, negative stuff that to my mind was a poor fit with the English mentality. I would like to see something more aggressive this time.

Q. What do you reckon about the United States? I think they have what it takes to progress from the group. What do you guys think and what do you think the future for football in America is?
Andreas, Sweden

A. I have never been to the place, so again it is not a very informed opinion, but they have clearly reached the level of competence that is good enough to think in terms of getting out of the group. Have they got enough real quality to take it further? It is here that I have my doubts.

Long term, with the size, resourcefulness and mentality of its population, it is not hard to imagine the US becoming a serious power. If they play their cards right they should be able to blend European and South American styles.

Q. Is the vuvuzela trumpet going to put you off the World Cup at all?
David, Scotland

A. Here in Rio one of the things that is already coming across is the sheer joy of the South African population in hosting the tournament and if that is expressed with the vuvuzela, then fair enough.

The World Cup is a global party, with people from all over the planet, and in the middle of all this I think a bit of local flavour is important.

SOUTH AMERICA

Q. Which coach is under the most pressure - Diego Maradona or Dunga?
Cleo Sharp, United Kingdom

A. Maradona only has 40 million Argentines to pile on the pressure - Dunga has 195m Brazilians! Also, Dunga is hopeless at schmoozing the press.

He receives some intelligent constructive criticism from the Brazilian media as well as a lot of unintelligent stuff and he puts it all in the same basket.

After the excesses of the 2006 campaign, he has cut back massively on press access to the players - all of this means that he makes enemies.

Q. In refusing to select Ronaldinho, is Dunga being wise or just stubborn?
Mitch Holder, Mansfield, England

A. Now that is a great question and one that can only be answered definitively with hindsight.

Wise? Well, Dunga was patient with Ronaldinho for three years while the player was a pitiful apology for a professional player, frittering away his immense talent.

No-one seemed to be able to get through to him - he is obviously a much more complex character than the happy, smiley image. So Dunga lost patience and the team gelled better without Ronaldinho. And for Brazil the lesson of 2006 was that stars might win matches but teams win titles.

Stubborn? Under the guidance of Leonardo and motivated by the World Cup, there was a return to some kind of form this season, although that old acceleration seems to have gone forever. Brazil do appear to lack a plan B and Ronaldinho on the bench would be an interesting option.

For what it's worth, I think he should have been included but I think a coach should live or die by his own convictions. Once he lets the media start picking his team, it is all over.

Q. Even if Brazil win the 2010 World Cup, do you agree that Dunga's example of coaching the Brazil team should not be allowed to be repeated? Brazil are (were) the last ambassador of 'the beautiful game' and should remain as such.
Yulian Totev, Bulgaria

A. Interesting that this one comes from Europe. Dunga sees this kind of talk as part of a European conspiracy to ensure that Brazil play pretty pretty football and do not win.

For my own taste, the current team is too limited in central midfield but I have spent years criticising Dunga and he has spent years winning matches and that, after all, is his priority.

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Post 1982 there does seem to be a belief in Brazilian football that some kind of contradiction exists between playing well, or certainly playing expansively, and winning. I would love this to be reassessed; to my mind, the main reason to play well is that it offers the best chance of winning.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Brazil are not successful in South Africa but the current Dunga side are nothing if not difficult to beat.

Q. What do you think Maradona's starting XI will be for the World Cup and how can he keep all of these players happy?

Also the same question about Dunga's Brazil, what do you think his first choice XI would be? Will there be a place for the impressive Nilmar or will he not be given a chance despite his hat-trick against Chile last year?
Sam Rodger, England

A. I expect Brazil to line up without Nilmar:

Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos; Elano, Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo; Kaka, Robinho; Luis Fabiano.

Argentina - Romero; Otamendi, De Michelis, Samuel, Heinze; Gutierrez, Mascherano, Veron, Di Maria; Messi, Higuain - with a possible variation of Gutierrez dropping to right-back and Maxi Rodriguez coming in on the right of midfield.

Q. Diego Maradona has the potential to destroy one of the best teams at the World Cup. Can the players rise above the situation or does he ultimately wield too much influence? How do the people of Argentina perceive it?
Sam, England

A. At the moment they seem to be rallying to the cause, although in a nation of football coaches, there are many disagreements with his selections. But the signs are that things are dropping into place.

It is easily forgotten that Maradona inherited a team in crisis - only one win in seven. With more difficult fixtures he won four in eight to get them over the line.

It was not always pretty but his floundering reminded me of Brazil in 2001 when Luiz Felipe Scolari, a much more experienced coach, was all over the place with a Brazil side in trouble - and we all know how that one ended up.

The test of Maradona's work comes this year - choosing a philosophy of play, selecting his players, establishing variations and fostering team spirit. He appears to have done all that. By no means all of his choices would be mine but for the moment I cannot see the disaster that so many appear to want.

Q. I believe that Chile have the potential to progress far and I don't think I'm alone in thinking this.

I've caught glimpses of them and their attacking options can be scary at times (especially Alexis Sanchez). However, from what I understand, the earthquake somewhat hindered their preparation. What is your opinion of them and how do you think their attacking, free play will match up in South Africa?
M Hunt, UK

A. I wrote about this a couple of weeks back. They are perhaps the most fascinating side in the field.

Alexis Sanchez is indeed the genuine article and I hope that with all the nerves jangling they have the courage of their convictions and really give it a go. I cannot see them going all the way, though - their defence is too suspect, especially in the air.

Q. What do we think of Uruguay's chances in South Africa? I personally think they are capable of a semi-final place. They have extreme firepower with Diego Forlan, Sebastian Abreu, and the unsung Luis Suarez. They potentially have the next world star in Nicolas Lodeiro. Where is all the hype?
Tom Campbell, England

A. No hype I suppose because they are in a tough group, it is 40 years since they have done anything at a World Cup and because they only slipped in through the play-off. They have made progress since then, though, and I agree that this is their best chance of doing something in years.

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Question marks - Lodeiro provides extra subtlety but might have had the edge taken off his game as a result of his settling in period at Ajax. Can Nacho Gonzalez tip the balance at the highest level?

And there are some defensive problems as well - the centre-backs Lugano and Godin can struggle against quick, mobile strikers and there is space to be found behind Maxi and Alvaro Pereira at either full-back or wing-back.

Q. What chance if any do you think Paraguay stand of success at the World Cup and have they shown already, by rivalling teams such as Brazil and Argentina, that they are capable of doing this to other big nations in South Africa?
Josh McAloone

A. Some of the warm-up results have not been great but I wouldn't read too much into that. Paraguay are traditionally poor in friendlies, they have been working with all 30 players and experimenting with personnel and systems.

The build-up, though, has given them one huge plus - recently naturalised striker Lucas Barrios (Argentine with a Paraguayan mother) has had a dream start - one game versus the Republic of Ireland, 20 minutes against Ivory Coast and two cracking goals.

With Santa Cruz starting to find some rhythm, some other interesting strikers and Christian Riveros to support from midfield, they carry some firepower.

They have a good coach, Gerardo Martino, who is keen to replace Paraguay's typical World Cup timidity with something more aggressive. The draw has been kind, too. They have never reached the quarter finals - maybe this time.

European football expert Phil Minshull will answer your questions on Tuesday.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Some interesting questions and answers there. Personally I think that England are going to massively underachieve again and I think Germany and Argentina will also disappoint. I can see an African nation doing well, maybe Ghana. I don't rate the chances of the Ivory Coast, purely because of Sven.

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 2.

    'Long term, with the size, resourcefulness and mentality of its population, it is not hard to imagine the US becoming a serious power.'
    It's always foxed me as to why the US hasn't managed to take the next step. I know that the sport isn't really taken seriously in the US (try posting any football questions on a US sports forum), but with the stress on athleticism in schools, and the size of the population, you would have thought that their resources should make a US national side more of a force than it is today. tablished acadthat more European sides haven't established academies there.
    http://sportales.com/soccer/kopstuff-30510-reds-ready-for-south-africa-carra-top-four-priority/

  • Comment number 3.

    I will just comment on the question about the number of teams from Africa and Asia at the World Cup. I think there is fair representation for the continents in the junior world cups U17, U20 and also the Olympics but when it comes to the actual World Cup I think its too European centric. Why not use the U17 representation, for example, for the seniors?

    Full time analysis

  • Comment number 4.

    Lets hope USA don't manage to get things together, just imagine them being the world champions of a game called soccer.

  • Comment number 5.

    By no means all of his choices would be mine but for the moment I cannot see the disaster that so many appear to want.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Very good point Tim, I also agree that a lot of people especially in this country want Maradona's Argentina to fail. Not just because it's Argentina, and there's a very strong football rivalry between our countries, but also because of the man himself. I obviously understand the strong sentiment expressed by a lot of football fans in this country with regard to Maradona, so perhaps it is not a surprise that there is a strong anti-Maradona sentiment expressed on forums and also in newspaper articles by reputable football journalists. Of course, no one openly makes the point of their dislike of Maradona's character, but they disguise their obvious agenda by bemoaning Maradona's tactical incompetency and irrational selection.

    Now, I am not saying all the comments about his ability as a manager are just a facade for something more sinister, but the strength of feeling against Maradona betrays a secondary motive in the criticisms aimed against him by English football fans and pundits. We should be more honest than that. For example, if the Argentina manager was someone else, and he made the same decisions as Maradona, would the British media make such a meal of it? I don't think so.

    Remember, Maradona did get the team through the qualification stages, although clearly he has had some serious problems and needs to get a more coherent strategy if Argentina (with all their talent) are to make waves in this tournament.

    Also, it appears another area of consternation among some of the journalists in this country is Maradona's apparent favouring of home based players over those who play in Europe. Now, of course you can take this too far and leave really good European based players at home in favour of inferior Argentinian based players, but I can see the reasoning behind that. One of the many failings of globalisation is the loss of national pride, and there is the danger that some footballers have lost what it means to play for their country and this is why Maradona probably sees the benefits of choosing players who still have that working class national pride which can help forge a real team bond based on shared community values.

    Sometimes, if you have too many European based players who have forgotten their roots, this sort of cooperative and community environment in the squad could be missing, and if you have too many individualistic players in the squad, you're unlikely to do well as a team. This isn't to say that all European based players are like this at all, but there is a danger which Maradona has probably identified. Please note that this description of "national pride" shouldn't be confused with jingoism and ugly nationalism. Unfortunately, globalisation has allowed the far right to claim national pride and use to further their ugly and despicable philosophy. In reality, anyone can feel national pride, as long as you live in the country, and it transcends race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.

    So I feel people shouldn't give up on Maradona, and he's nowhere near as incompetent as the right wing press in this country make him out to be. Sure, he's hardly Capello obviously, but right him off at your peril.

  • Comment number 6.

    Tim

    What players do you think will force their way into the copa America team , and which of the current players will drop out ?.

    Neymar , Paulo Henrique , Fabio , Rafael ?. Baptista , Kleberson , Gilberto Silva ?. Any other young or lesser known players you see making the step up ?.

  • Comment number 7.

    I dislike Maradona because when he was a player, I think he betrayed his talent and set a dreadful example for the youngsters who idolised him. I also have never forgiven him for his behaviour in that 1986 World Cup quarter final. Many think that what he did was clever, sadly. It was cheating, plain and simple, ignored by the FIFA referee. He scored the glorious second while the England players were shellshocked.

    Having said all that, I agree with Tim Vickery and PassTheParcel that Maradona has received over-the-top criticism as a coach and some want him to fail. I also think some people see him as a loony, an Argentine version of Gascoigne, and the fall-outs with Riquelme, Zanetti and Cambiasso are further evidence of that to back up their opinion. I'm actually impressed that Maradona has fought his addictions and come back to work in football. It's something that George Best, and Garrincha sadly were unable to manage, and Gascoigne has had his severe problems so I think Diego deserves credit for that.

    I still don't admire the man for his personality, but I have to grudgingly accept that he has put his idol status with Argentinian football on the line by risking his reputation as a player by taking the job as national team manager. He's got balls.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think England can win the world cup, but cooperation needs to be at the heart of their play, and under Capello we can see that, so I'm quite confident, although obviously there are quite a few teams who are more naturally talented than us. What I think will happen at the World Cup will in essence be a reflection of events occurring in the world itself. After the global financial crisis there has been at least a partial retreat from free market fundamentalism, and the dominant paradigm that "the pursuit of private profit will lead to the social good" has been comprehensively destroyed. We have realised quite painfully that self interested individuals, behaving totally selfishly and looking to do the best only for themselves, will inevitably lead to serious socioeconomic damage. And similarly in football, I believe we will see teams that are too reliant on individual stars will fall by the wayside early. These individual stars, who may play purely for themselves and with no consideration of the team, will cause more harm than good by pursuing a purely selfish agenda.
    Conversely, teams that promote team work, cooperation and engender a strong community ethic will do the best. If the manager is able to create an atmosphere where everyone is playing for their teammates and not for themselves, this team will flourish and can potentially win the world cup.
    I really hope this is how it works out, regardless of who wins, because it will be a further vindication of the values of socialistic organisation over the "sink or swim", dog eat dog self interested world of free market neoliberalism.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great Q&A session, Tim.

    Personally, I'd love to see a less-heralded South American team do well this year - Uruguay making it to the semis, for example. They certainly have the talent - in Forlan & Suarez, particularly - so here's hoping...

    The same applies to the African nations - wouldn't it be wonderful to see one of them in the semis or, perhaps, the final itself?

    If Spain play to form then there's probably only one winner, but I'm hoping luck plays its own part in the tournament (as it is wont to do). Maybe good olde England will get their slice of fair fortune this summer and bring the cup home. Maybe...

    Regardless of the end result, here's hoping for a wonderful World Cup finals; with lots of high-class football, amazing colours & joy in the stands and, above all, a united celebration of this most beautiful of games. Amen.

  • Comment number 10.

    @ Subterranean

    I dislike Maradona because when he was a player, I think he betrayed his talent and set a dreadful example for the youngsters who idolised him. I also have never forgiven him for his behaviour in that 1986 World Cup quarter final...

    -----

    Oh get over it! It was 24 years ago. You sound like one of those whingers from "Have your say" - never a positive word and always ready to moan.

    Maradonna was a football genius. I wish him and the Argies well.

    But.. that doesnt mean I want anyone other than England to win!!!

    However, it will be The Netherlands.






  • Comment number 11.

    Europe has, what, 23 teams in the top 32 seeded teams, and gets 13 places in a 32 World Cup. The World Cup may be "Eurocentric" but not unduly so. Asia/Oceania gets 5 places? They have zero teams in the top 32. Africa and South America get 6 each, which seems fair more or less. North America gets 3/4 whereas they would get 2 if this were a perfect meritocracy.

    Not every continent is equal in terms of quality or uptake in the game at a professional or amateur level. I agree that the World Cup should allow for smaller nations to compete, and for broad representation from all continents. We already have it! The result? Teams like France and Portugal struggle for qualification. Teams like Russia, Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Poland and Turkey, Norway and Ukraine don't make it, and North Korea, Honduras qualify while New Zealand (with a squad including an amateur) get to a playoff with mighty Bahrain, and qualify. Anyone hoping for development of the game in Asia/Oceania should be very happy with what they have already.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think it's incredible how much attacking talent Argentina have Maradona seems intent on ruining it.
    Just think the starting line-up could leave the likes of Tevez, Aguero, Milito on the bench and have Messi, Higuain and Di Maria starting.

    If only England had the same problem up front!

  • Comment number 13.

    shadur10

    How does Maradona seem "intent on ruining" Argentina's attacking talent? He has three to start, and three on the bench. If anything he seems intent on ruining Argentina's midfield and defensive talent.

  • Comment number 14.

    Interesting comments about the pressure Dunga is under. I think Brazil have been fortunate in the draw - playing North Korea first gives them the perfect start and an easy three points.

    The second game against Ivory Coast is an interesting one. The Africans may see it as a chance to seal qualification and go all out to win - they are playing North Korea last, so a win against Brazil would probably see them through, regardless of what happens in the opening fixtures.

    That would really put the cat among the pigeons - a tense final game between Brazil and their old colonial masters, Portugal...

    http://twoyellowcards.co.uk/

  • Comment number 15.

    I can understand if the South Africans want to collectively express their national joy with the vuvuzelas. That doesn't change the fact that the noise they make is extremely loud and annoying. I can't help feeling that they might provide the bigger teams with an easy excuse for doing badly. As all of England's key players are fit (or will be fit) for a change, it could be a much-needed one!

  • Comment number 16.

    dallew -
    Sorry I didn't mean intent on ruining the attacking talent, I was referring to the team in general.

  • Comment number 17.

    @15
    ----
    "I can understand if the South Africans want to collectively express their national joy with the vuvuzelas. That doesn't change the fact that the noise they make is extremely loud and annoying.I can't help feeling that they might provide the bigger teams with an easy excuse for doing badly. "
    ----

    Are you for real? Ever thought about focusing on the football, rather than the crowd noise? Are all the vuvuzela-haters out there as easily distracted at work, or at home? How do you get through a day, what with all that external noise???

  • Comment number 18.

    All 208 members of FIFA (more members than either the United Nations or International Olympic Committee) have a chance to win the World Cup through the qualification competition, so to say that continents other than Europe or South America are under-represented at the Finals is plainly false.

    The fact is that the cream of World football comes from those two areas - all 8 Quarter Finalists at the 2006 World Cup Finals came from Europe (6) or South America (2) - and the make-up of the participants in the Finals competition should reflect this.

    I'm fairly confident that the Quarter Finalists in the forthcoming World Cup won't feature any team from outside Europe or South America either.

    Many already feel that having 32 qualifiers for the Finals is too bloated, with far too many no-hopers from Africa and Asia there just to make-up the numbers.

    Take a look at FIFA's own current Top 32 ranked teams in the world - there's just 8 countries from outside Europe and South America, although 14 of them will be participating in the Finals.

    The Finals are supposed to be a celebration of excellence and not a exercise in political correctness. It's no co-incidence that the most memorable of all the FIFA World Cup Finals were those when only 16 countries qualified.

    Here's a chart showing how all of the countries who have qualified for FIFA World Cup Finals from 1930 in Uruguay to 2010 in South Africa have progressed...

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/FIFAWorldCupFinalsProgressChart1930-2010.html








  • Comment number 19.

    a couple of thoughts on comments posted.
    i was critical of sven in the q and a, but a short term blast of sven might be what ivory coast need - he seems to be making them less vulnerable to the counter attack, which is good news for the brazil game.

    also, after seeing them a couple of times i don't think north korea are complete mugs - could be an interesting opener for brazil, who can be stifled by cautious opponents.

  • Comment number 20.

    great q´s folks, and great answers, a good read =:O) ta!

  • Comment number 21.

    As an alternative, which South American do you think will crash and burn at the world cup and why? Is it possible for Brazil to fail at the Group stage? Similarly with Agentina. Is it conceivable any of Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay will not get points at all in their groups?

  • Comment number 22.

    One important reason US soccer is slow to progress is because we do not play "street soccer." In my township in Pennsylvania, our organized soccer club and school teams are very active and VERY successful by many measures. But, unlike American Football, basketball and baseball, kids in this area kids are not seen playing informal games (a.k.a. "street ball") like they do in Argentina - all day long. Also, the coaching quality here is very inconsistent. I've seen coaches dreadfully unprepared to provide meaningful instruction and not able to respect the needs of their players as people. Still, soccer is the largest organized sport played by under-18s. So, we're growing. If we had more fun playing from day one, we'd be better. :) (I lived in Argentina for 4+ years. So, I use that country as my comparator.)

  • Comment number 23.

    USA has good results from time to time and seems to win in spurts, USA wins against Spain, here and there but the overall results are negative.

    Even in the span of going to 1950 until the last World Cup, I believe they say USA has only won 4 games in the competition, against England in 1950, against Colombia in 1994, against Mexico and Portugal in 2002. Surely some teams win 4 or more in one tournament. You can't fear that kind of average.

  • Comment number 24.

    Josue ( the dimunitive midfield maestro, remember the Copa America 2007?), la "Bestia" Baptista ( can come on and turn a game around at anytime regardless of his time on the bench at Roma, Daniel Alves, a world class quality RWB, and utility player, also plays LB, and LWB, ((WHO'D START on any other team in the world including preempting Ramos on the Spain squad if he was Spanish; Nilmar, and Grafite, two strikers who score bags of goals, LB Gilberto, a classy, hardworking, LB defender, who unlike Roberto Carlos can also ATTACK with a brutish ferocity and efficiency; the excellent positioner, and reader of the game a la Aldair of a few years back, Thiago Silva , Luisao the no nonsense, take no prisoner giant of a CB, not since the days of Garrincha's marauding down the right flank has the world cup witnessed a RH play his wing with such intelligent two-way, incisive and decisive play as did Kleberson do in 2002 in Japan/South Korea. yes he failed at MU, but only because of his maladaptation to the long ball, fast paced, hectic, and less technical English style of play. What on earth is Mr. Vickery alluding to?

  • Comment number 25.

    I meant that Gilberto unlike Roberto Carlos is a classy defender in addition to his attacking qualities.

  • Comment number 26.

    some (purely layman's) thoughts on the US. maybe some people got too excited by the 2002 performance - in my first answer i explain why i think that tournament gave a false position.

    i didn't see the ghana game last time round, but in 2006 for me in defeat to the czechs and drawing with the italians the us showed a higher level of play than in the games they won four years earlier - which, i suppose, means that the trend is up.

  • Comment number 27.

    '24' - "what on earth is Mr Vickery alluding to?"

    I'm not alluding to anything. I'm saying straight out that you seem to have mad panther disease!

    1 - i've argued on this space that dunga's 23 have every right to go to the world cup. people say they lack flair - if so, how come they beat uruguay 4-0 away, or argentina 3-1 away? If there's no talent there, then where are all these goals coming from?

    but

    2 - I like everyone else have the right to prefer certain styles of football over others. i don't share your over-simplistic analysis of the english game, but that's not really my style either. i like passing football - i will always hold that cambiasso goal in the last world cup as evidence of how i like football to be played. I would love to see some of that from brazil - really, if anyone should be capable of that level of performance they should. hence the fact that i find the current side limited in central midfield. which would you prefer - clodoaldo and gerson or gilberto silva and felipe melo? but there is no contradiction in having my own preferences and believing that dunga has brought his own preferences to the team in a competent manner.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hopefully a Spain v Brazil final. I wouldn't have believed it a few months ago, but I can see Argentina reaching the last four.

    Portugal could go out early, Ivory Coast may pip them for second in the group.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 29.

    hey tim. just wanted to say you rock and that i love your new picture. that is all for now look fwd to hearing u on the wfpi. best of luck to your beloved spurs next season in europe.

    cheers

    Nima

  • Comment number 30.

    Midland 20 - I don't think you have the right to condemn the writer because he has found it impossible to forgive Maradona for the handball.
    I too have not forgotten this but I also dislike the man because of the very bad example he portrayed with his drug problems and also his overall demeanour in terms of ridiculing anyone who disagrees with him, running over a journalist's foot and then scorning the journalist for 'putting your foot under the wheel of MY car!'
    I'm wondering how the Argentine people will react toward their 'GOD' should Argentina fail miserably in South Africa, and what they would term to be acceptable from Maradona. Will getting to the quarter-finals be considered good enough, or must they get to the final?
    I personally feel that their defence will crack, given the players he has selected like Heinze, who can't tackle to save himself, and DiMichelis who was poor in the Champions League final. Of course that does not mean that they will lose as they are still very capable of scoring more than the other team!

  • Comment number 31.

    Theres been alot of talk about ronaldinhos and adrianos exclusion out of the brazillian team but everyone knows about ronaldinhos and adriano mental and personal problems thats their own fault they should of sort themselves out month before the world cup .

    But seriously? tim can you answer this question why on earth has dunga left out pato and put in baptista? you talked about dungas decision to take out players not performing or will have a mental affect in the dressing room but how did he leave out pato. Yes he got injured but hes been scoring goals while fit on otherhand baptista?... this man hasnt even a regular in the first team of roma? how many games has he started in the serie a? again.

    Mardonna this man is hilirious? cambiasso and zanetti two players who have been key in winning a treble for their clubs last season he takes a two players from the championship! and past his prime player that plays in the argentine league and a player thats been out of form all year! ok you explain this decision!.

  • Comment number 32.

    Its extraordinary the hatred for Argentina and Maradona one finds on this blog.Tim Vickery is based in Brasil 5 times World champions but every blog is dominated by English bloggers unable to contain themselves in their rush to show what a fool Maradona is and what a shower of individualistic egotistical clowns the seleccion is.
    Maradona an extraordinary player from a a poor backround became a superstar at 17 and certainly fell into many traps in his lifetime.He however acheived the ultimate a footballer could acheive and certainly cheated with the first gol against England in 86.However the hypocracy of the bloggers here doesnt allow them to admit that Owen cheated for the penalty in 2002 or Stanley Rous fixed the referees in 66.
    Maradona after reaching the zenith fell into a cesspit which he had the cojones to survive fron often with the support of fanatical Boca fans(whom i am hardly a fan)
    There is no doubt Argentina have the most talented attacking players in the World and with the presence of Riquelme(not the Euro based Cambiasso or Zanetti)we would be favourites to win.As for the criticism of the Argentine league players i would remind our xenophobic brethern that Argentinas clubs have had 9 world club titles to the great Premier leagues 2.Argentinas 2 Wiorld cups came with squads dominated by home based players
    As for the reaction to the public to failure(not reaching the final)if our players try hard and dont lose the plot Diego will be still loved by his public and not treated like Beckham in 98.You should look at yourselves before you judge others

  • Comment number 33.

    @9 "If Spain play to form then there's probably only one winner"

    And what form would that be? World Cup form? Spain's world cup record is quite poor.

    The World Cup is a totally different proposition to winning the European Cup or a bunch of friendlies. The beauty of the World Cup is that you get teams that play different styles, not just European, and Spain failed miserably at the first hurdle in the Confederations Cup against the US.

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 "Argentinas 2 Wiorld cups came with squads dominated by home based players"

    Yes, but you could also say that about every world cup winner prior to 1990. Up until then most squads were based around home based players with only some exceptions playing abroad.

    These days, however, any half-decent South American player is immediately shipped to Europe, or Mexico. So the probability of a South American team winning the World Cup just using home-based players is almost nil.

  • Comment number 35.

    @23 "USA has good results from time to time and seems to win in spurts, USA wins against Spain, here and there but the overall results are negative.

    Even in the span of going to 1950 until the last World Cup, I believe they say USA has only won 4 games in the competition, against England in 1950, against Colombia in 1994, against Mexico and Portugal in 2002. Surely some teams win 4 or more in one tournament. You can't fear that kind of average."

    =================================================

    and don't forget the win against England at the 2010 World Cup...

    oops, maybe I should wait until after the 13/6 to post this one ;)

  • Comment number 36.

    24. At 7:56pm on 31 May 2010, PanteroNegro wrote:
    Josue ( the dimunitive midfield maestro, remember the Copa America 2007?), la "Bestia" Baptista ( can come on and turn a game around at anytime regardless of his time on the bench at Roma, Daniel Alves, a world class quality RWB, and utility player, also plays LB, and LWB, ((WHO'D START on any other team in the world including preempting Ramos on the Spain squad if he was Spanish; Nilmar, and Grafite, two strikers who score bags of goals, LB Gilberto, a classy, hardworking, LB defender, who unlike Roberto Carlos can also ATTACK with a brutish ferocity and efficiency; the excellent positioner, and reader of the game a la Aldair of a few years back, Thiago Silva , Luisao the no nonsense, take no prisoner giant of a CB, not since the days of Garrincha's marauding down the right flank has the world cup witnessed a RH play his wing with such intelligent two-way, incisive and decisive play as did Kleberson do in 2002 in Japan/South Korea. yes he failed at MU, but only because of his maladaptation to the long ball, fast paced, hectic, and less technical English style of play. What on earth is Mr. Vickery alluding to?

    -------------------

    baptista is rubbish played awful for arsenal and hasnt come back, as shown by his lack of apps for roma 3 starts all season in serie a, i would rather have ronaldinho.

    dani alves is quality and would get in any team

    but ur message about giberto is a mile over the top, roberto carlos was on the best left backs of all time and giberto is the same giberto that played about 2 games of tottenham and got shipped out because his performances were so bad, he is a rubbish defender, but can attack well.

    any way back to blog, it was a bit silly of the bbc to ask tim the first few questions since he doesnt watch many games out of south america, i would have liked to see more questions about the south america nations.

    i am looking forward to watching chile with their all out attack approach, and seeing uruguay.

    but brazil and argentina teams dont look that thrilling.

  • Comment number 37.

    @18 "Many already feel that having 32 qualifiers for the Finals is too bloated, with far too many no-hopers from Africa and Asia there just to make-up the numbers."
    ...
    "The Finals are supposed to be a celebration of excellence and not a exercise in political correctness. It's no co-incidence that the most memorable of all the FIFA World Cup Finals were those when only 16 countries qualified."

    ===================================================

    "no-hopers"?! ... Zaire back in 1974 were the laughing stock of the tournament. Nobody is laughing at the African teams now.

    If it is to avoid having teams just making up the numbers, let's replace the current format with a mini-tournament that should only have Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Germany playing each other every 4 years. See how absurd that is?. The World Cup is about having countries from all over the world participating, enjoying different styles of football.

    And speaking of numbers, how about having a single team from the UK instead of 4, all in the name of fairness of course and not wanting to have teams just to "make up the numbers"?

    A World Cup being memorable doesn't have anything to do with the number of participants. Unfortunately, football's business side has taken over, so the emphasis is no longer on style but only on results, impacting on what we see on the field. As a result, players' creativity is no longer encouraged as it is stifled by tactics and rigid strategy. Brazil is just one example of this.

    Finally, just wondering...are there any teams that didn't make it to South Africa that will be missed? I can't think of any.

  • Comment number 38.

    @18
    @37

    I know what you mean, let's not forget the World Cup if I am correct, was even boycotted in regards to the treatment of African Nations, that was 1966 perhaps. The Africans in fact, like ol' Sepp Blatter, Havelange (spelling) before rubbed them the wrong way, so Sepp Blatter is probably often wrong but he seems to have stood up for the number of African Nations, it does only seem correct. It is a difficult matter to assess as to how many teams should be in the World Cup, but being fair to all nations really is not, from what I know, nowadays, they just try to follow the United Nations in a number of ways.

    Oh, and are there any teams that didn't make it to SA that will be missed? Do we have the "whistling" avatar here?? Do Shamrocks ring a bell? Is green unlucky? Some other teams missed out but that will happen every time, Sweden is almost always there and Russia had a good Euro.

    B

  • Comment number 39.

    @37:

    No, you can't really make the argument that the UK should have one team because the FAs for the 4 countries are older than Fifa itself. If football or modern football began in Great Britain, really, it's not fair for them to say bow down to Fifa's game which is far from perfect, honestly. Also, I'm not sure, but at times, I think Fifa went on to give full recognition to the 4 FAs because of the role of GB bailing Europe out of WWII but I may be totally wrong. Scotland could have gone to the 1950 World Cup but opted out of it, the FAs again (unrelated)

  • Comment number 40.

    @32: Moreno, don't get too upset at what people write. My first World Cup more or less is '86, not meaning to exaggerate but to me, Diego largely defines that era for good or bad and I'll leave it at that. I have also seen plenty of Argentina league games. Maybe it is just me but the ambience and the crowds are very exciting, to me it seems a lot like the Premier League. It is very good.

  • Comment number 41.

    since fifa world cup is a global event we should increase the number of team participating in the world cup final. we should increase the team from 32 to 48
    19 teams to europe
    9 teams to africa
    6 teams to south smerica
    8 teams to asia
    41/2 teams to north and central america
    1 1/2 teams to ociana.
    now we are playing
    first round
    secound round
    queter final ,semifinal and final.

    Instead of this we better to have 48 teams in 12 groups
    from there
    first round
    secound round
    third round
    quter final
    semifinnal
    final
    48 teams in first round in 12 groups
    from these 12 groups winner and runners up will automatically qulifies for the second round.That is 24 teams. In addition to this, we can selec best of 8 thrd place teams form those 12 groups.
    so we will have 24 + 8 = 32 teams for second round.
    from then onwards we can have knock out stage.

    So we will have 32 teams in second round knock out stage .

    then we will have 16 teams for third round.

    then we can have quter final semifinal and final.

    Since world cup is the greatest sporting event in the world. we cannot have world cup in every 2 years.Only option is to increase the number of teams in the world cup final.
    there is too much pressure on national team's coaches.More over ,there are nearly 200 nations in the fifa list. So it fair to ask 48 teams for the final from those 200 national tems. That is about 25 % representation.
    I would like to hear from others
    Thank you

    Coomaran

  • Comment number 42.

    One of the major issues that US Soccer continues to have is its developmental system from the youth levels upward. Whilst some have mentioned the country's vast size and its attention to athlete development, the generalized American mentality of such development focuses on pace, agility, endurance, and strength, but there is hardly any attention devoted to technical skill as is seen in Europe and S. America. Once players get to the University level, these same "skill sets" are over-emphasized, and unfortunately, should these players move on to the domestic professional league, MLS, again, technical skill is sacrificed for the aforementioned skill-sets.

    Because the US lacks substantial coaching that can effectively implement the technical tools needed to make it a consistent footballing side, it continues in a vicious cycle of inconsistent results due to inept gaffers who either lack international pedigree or fail to prepare their squads adequately; case in point, former gaffer Bruce Arena's lack of preparation and the US's overwhelming underachievement in 2006. However, to the US's defense, Major League Soccer is only 15 years old, compared to the EPL or other foreign leagues which have been in existence for ages.

    Another issue that comes into play, and this is something that US football supporters continue to decry, is the inexplicable power plays of US Soccer Fed. President Sunil Gulati. The US had every opportunity to bring Jurgen Klinnsman into the fold well before Bob Bradley took the helm, however, Gulati and his cronies refused to let Klinnsman prepare the team the way he wanted to and select the best side possible to represent the States, even if that meant a majority of players did not come from the MLS. There is a vacillating argument that players who skipped the MLS to ply their trade in Europe either have been or currently are overlooked by US Soccer.

    We also see a mixed crowd of US supporters: those who are actually in the know and view the US side and its individual players within the scope of reality, and then there are those who are blindly allegiant and refuse to see the US side within the purview of such reality. This has essentially become the bane of US Soccer. In order for the US to become a consistent threat on the international stage, it needs a complete revamping from the youth levels upward. It needs a complete revamping of its coaching that implements sorely-needed technical expertise and tactical acumen needed for the international stage. US Soccer Fed. needs new leadership, preferably former US players who have international experience and know what's required to perform at that level. Finally, while the game has enjoyed increased coverage on ESPN and Fox Sports, it's still relatively minor compared to the NFL, NBA, and Baseball; we need to see massive coverage for the sport to educate American households on the sport, rather than just seeing it as a "weekend hobby" to keep the kids and parents busy.

  • Comment number 43.

    @39
    I am yet to find a convincing argument about why a single country (UK) should have multiple entries in the FIFA world. Maybe it is due to some historical reason long lost in the stream of time.

    However, it is very interesting to note that for the 2012 Olympics, the UK will enter a single football team, although with english players only after the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh FAs decided not to join the team for fear other FIFA members may challenge the "right" of the 4 home nations to have separate national teams.

    Interesting that even the home nations see this "unique status" as an anomaly.

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, do you support England? And if not who do you support at international level?

    I only ask as you don't seem to keep track of England games much, just curious.

    Excellent insights as usual, thanks for the read. I never post to your 'blog' as I have nothing more to add other than 'well done'. :)

  • Comment number 45.

    Interesting to read people's comments on Argentina's prospects and the influence that Maradonna will have on them.

    I accept I'm probably in a minority here, but I have Argentina right up there with Spain and Brazil as favourites to win and, surprisingly perhaps, I think Maradonna is one of the key factors in this.

    Why do I think they'll do well? Firstly, they have class all over the pitch, especially going forward. They also have a natural game that is given to tournaments such as the WC. Argentinian teams are always ruthless (sometimes too much so) and more often than not they find a way to retain solidity in defence and posession that gives their more gifted individuals, i.e. Messi, room to do their stuff. Yes, their qualification campaign was seriously disrupted and at times seemed a shambles but I think they will perform better away from South America and South American opposition.

    While I feel that in the hearts and minds of the Brazilian players there may be a tension between how they want to play, esp. in a tournament that they see as the calling card for their game, and how they are instructed to play, I don't think the Argentinians will have such conflicts. They are by nature a more pragmatic people.

    And Maradonna? There are enough people around him to compensate for his tactical shortcomings. His passion for his country and for football is hysterical and unsurpassed. He will provide the rocket up the backside, the motivation, the unacceptability of failure and the will to win. All these things are crucial and I don't think there is a manager in the tournament more capable of providing them to their team. In football terms, Maradonna IS Argentina. For the team, it will be the equivalent of having the entire nation delivering every pre match talk, every half-time rollocking, every arm round the shoulder etc. I realise this sounds over the top, but the man himself is so far over the top that this should come as little surprise.

    Are managers subject to random drugs tests? ;-)

    Despite all this, I'll be supporting England all the way!

  • Comment number 46.

    32# good points !!
    in england argentina are always portrayed as the bad guys, and brazil the good guys ! very hypocritical the english mentality to football !

  • Comment number 47.

    @43: Yes, and you did say "nations" in your paragraph. It seems more like your understanding is elementary, not that anything is lost, enjoy Fifa as the decide-all entity in this, at least half of the world cups that have ever been played are tainted and as a governing body it is corrupt. Very sharp of you, you can mention the 2012 Olympics.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ PassTheParcel: "What I think will happen at the World Cup will in essence be a reflection of events occurring in the world itself."
    Yes I agree. Coach Bob Bradley will dump 6 million barrels of crude into the stadium in Pretoria the night before the Algeria game, with the United States advancing by questionable coin-toss to Round 2.
    The South Korean ship will be sank by Kim Jong Il, and the one containing the reserves will be hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Aden. So Puntland will take their place in Group B.
    Greece can't afford to travel so their place is taken by the Republic of Ireland. Unfortunately, Ireland can't afford to travel either.
    England's tactics for the first round games are sold to the tabloids by the Duchess of York, and they duly finish bottom of Group C.
    Another earthquake levels Chile and a mudslide drags Honduras into the sea. Spain and Switzerland take advantage...
    Voivodina votes to seperate from Serbia but continue in the World Cup under the moniker, "Serbia and Voivodina". They are embarrassed 8-1 by Ghana, who also fail to progress.
    230 professional footballers follow William Gallas in suing the South African people for Impairment-Of-Hearing-Due-To-Vuvuzela.
    The North Korean players disappear into the bush following their 1-0 victory over Brazil, as their visas expired and were ordered to return home.
    Johannesbug: Saturday morning, 12th June. Yossi Benayoun is found in an Argentina tracksuit in the Nigeria dressing room. Mossad involvement suspected.

  • Comment number 49.

    I really do think that Maradonna is making a huge mistake in terms of attacking prowess. Argentina by far have the best attacking line up in years and possibly the best in the last decade. Aguero, Messi, Milito, Higuain, Tevez and Di Maria. If i were him, I would play 4-2-2-2
    Romero, Zanetti, Samuel, Demichellis, Heinze, Mascherano, Veron (playmaker), Messi (far right to provide width and come in on his left foot), Aguero to hug the touchline and get past nigh on any right back in the world, Tevez and Higuain/Milito depending on form. With Riquelme, Gago, Di Maria, Milito/Higuain on bench. That team would be as good if not better than the Brazilian team. They could bag goals by dozen.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hi Tim, what was the general consensus of why Alexandre Pato was left out ? I think he is verging on being one of the best forwards around and instead Dunga takes Grafite ?

  • Comment number 51.

    @31 - everyone knows about ronaldinhos and adriano mental and personal problems thats their own fault they should of sort themselves out month before the world cup .

    nice compasionate analysis of mental illness.

    you truly are an idiot!

  • Comment number 52.

    Mardonna this man is hilirious? cambiasso and zanetti two players who have been key in winning a treble for their clubs last season he takes a two players from the championship! and past his prime player that plays in the argentine league and a player thats been out of form all year! ok you explain this decision!.

    --------------------------------------

    Because Zanetti undermines the manager and Cambiasso has done nothing for the Argentinian national team in the past three years? How exactly does being a key element of Inter automatically mean you become a key element of another, with a completely different set of players? This is a team, not a constituent set of the best 23 players the country has to offer. Brazil tried this in 2006 with the magic quartet and failed. This year they have eschewed flair and embraced pragmatism. You may not like it, but players like Julio Baptista are more team players on and off the field than Ronaldinho will ever be.

  • Comment number 53.

    Boy that was hard work! How many questions were there? I gave up after 4 or 5!

    With regards to one of Tim's answers: Having lived and coached in the US for 15 months I find it very hard to see them ever becoming a "Saaacur" power, despite the size of their population.

    When you witness it first hand you realise that the other US sports of Baseball, American Football & Basketball dominate the sporting culture. For the majority of the year that's what the kids are playing. They're not in the park playing football, they're throwing and catching. The only time they have any period of dedication to football is when the dedicated football season for kids is running, but even then they're only playing when they have coaching sessions. Away from anything organised it's the last thing they're thinking about.

    The majority of the kids don't watch football on TV and have no idea who many of the world's top players are either, so there's nothing for them to be inspired by, or aspire to.

    The central or South American imigrants would obviously seem the best bet for future US stars, but they're part of the same culture, and so are immersed in the dominance of the other sports most of the time.

    Before I went there I thought like Tim - that with the size of the country it's just a matter of time. Having had that experience I very much doubt it now. There's just not the dedication to, or understanding of the game there to facilitate effective youth development, and with the exception of the odd 1 or 2 perhaps finding their way through that system I can't see the US overcoming it's bigger sports to produce world-class players.

    Remember too that all the best athletes are automatically drawn to the American sports too, just as our best athletes probably move towards football rather than tennis for example.

    America will keep producing quality keepers due to the throwing & catching crossover from US sports, but I think it'll be a miracle if they become a "force" inside the next 15 years.

  • Comment number 54.

    comment number 52 nails the money once again

    why does tim have to seemingly defend maradona's selections every week on here and on the excellent world football phone in?

    as various people have now commented cambiasso's performances for argentina even before diego took charge were hapless at best, ask some argentinines how they feel about his absence? answer they arent bothered

    once again the english fan ignores the fact they have improved with him in charge

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi Tim,

    there has been a lot of discussion in relation to brazil's struggle to find a settled left back under dunga. I was wondering why benfica's David Luiz hasn't been tried out? At 23 he must have been on dunga's radar for a while now, and he has many u20 caps to his name. He seems to me to have the potential to become one of the best left backs in the world from what i've seen of him this season, although he may prefer to play in the centre.
    Is it this preference for centre back that's holding him back from the senior squad? Even so, i would have thought he warranted a squad place as one of the centre backs. Or is it that he has he underperformed whilst playing for the u20's?

    The answer i'm fearing is that it is simply yet another example of dunga's stubborn streak in response to a media campaign for the inclusion of a player in the squad (although i am unaware of such a campaign for david luiz).

    Just one of the many exclusions which have resulted in my support for winning the World Cup swaying from Brazil for the first time in as far as i can remember, which saddens me.

  • Comment number 56.

    Its funny how people still go on about the hand of god. In 98 and 02 England got dodgy pens, as far as I can make ou from the rule bookt, one converted pen = 1 goal, one punch not seen by ref = 1 goal.

    Still diago making terry butcher look thick by asking who he was, priceless...

  • Comment number 57.

    55 - david luiz is a centre back - brazil really don't go for the thing of playing centre backs at full back - they want the full backs to be able to push forward and keep the pitch wide. there's been no campaign for him because he's not well known in brazil - left early - and at under20 level perhaps suffered from being part of the 2007 world youth cup team, where brazil played four matches and lost three of them.

  • Comment number 58.

    50 - on alexandre pato - i'm a huge fan, but there's something you have to give dunga - nearly everyone has had a chance. pato went to the 2008 olympics and the 2009 confeds cup and didn't do well. diego - another favourite of mine - had chances and didn't come off. one i disagree with is hernanes of sao paulo - i thought he did well enough in the olympics to stay in - dunga disagrees, and to be fair to him, it's only recently that hernanes has rediscovered his best form - but he would be in my squad.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 43: Pol - because, among many other political, social and economic reasons, a British team would most likely be the England team with the Scottish players Craig Gordon in goal, Alan Hutton right-back and James McFadden left-wing so why would Scotland, Wales & N. Ireland want to form a British Football Association and have few or even no players in the entire squad.

  • Comment number 60.

    Holland-- my fav
    Spain-- Many world-class players and have the most talented team
    Brazil-- Again more than one world-class game changer and good defense for a change
    Argentina-- Dark horse or surprise package for the tourny. Many world-class game changers in messi,aguero,milito.. if they turn up they might win
    England-- Only one world-class game changer in 'Rooney' and has poor support upfront but has the best chance compared to last 2 world-cups.
    France -- no-chance too old and obsolete
    Portugal-- no quality forward and might be the surprise early exit although midfield looks good.
    Serbia-- unknown world team which might help them go long in the tourny
    Asian teams-- South Korea has best chance but ozs might spring a surprise
    African teams-- Nigeria has an outside chance to progress
    Germany -- Looks average but somehow tend to perform above expectations every world-cup
    Americas- Mexico will do better than USA this time around
    Italy-- Aging team cant see them retaining the title

  • Comment number 61.

    Didn't the home nations extort an agreement from FIFA after WWII to keep them separate in exchange for money for Europe's recovery? or is that misremembered conspiracy theory?

  • Comment number 62.

    I really dont understand why "Africa should have more places" argument.

    The facts are clear,aside from Oceania, they have the worst record of any confederation in tournaments.
    They have had two Quarter finalists (Cameroon 1990 and Senegal 2002)

    Concacaf have had Three,( Mexico in 1970 and 1986, Usa in 2002)

    Even Asia have had a semi finalist (South Korea 2002) and Quarter Finalists (North Korea 1966).

    In truth, the reason they get 5 automatic is only down to engineering votes at each FIFA leadership contest.




    In regards Tims blog, i have a good feeling for Uruguay. I like the look of Lodeiro and Saurez and Forlan are proven goalscorers.

  • Comment number 63.

    I've been watching Chile in their recent friendlies, especially the two back-to-back matches within seven hours against Norn Iron (Chillan) and Israel (Concepcion).

    A mixture of the 30 players, with some appearing in both games before the dreaded cut.

    They look comfortable and should've battered NI. But they systematically destroyed Israel, as mentioned all within seven hours.

    I know, not world footballing greats, but they have the deliverability which can make them a dark horse for the latter stages of the WC.

    Cheers,
    TDT
    http://www.thedirtytackle.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 64.

    Chile and Uruguay,

    I actually read a news magazine predicting Honduras to finish 2nd in that group H, I don't think so, I think it will be Chile, all the teams in that group are good. It seems every World Cup, Spain would most always demolish at least someone in the group if not more. What is this with Spain, weren't they in group G or H last time too?

    Uruguay, Forlan had the winners against Liverpool and Fulham.

    I think South Africa had woeful luck getting in that group but any group would be strong for them except the thing is France we know got their largely on a hand ball assisted goal, they were stripped of their # 1 seed position and end up in the host's group. I now think SA can get a result vs. Mexico in the opener. Uruguay this time around has to be close to as good as France but I might be way wrong.

  • Comment number 65.

    #60

    I'll happily bet u anything you like that USA do better than Mexico!

    I live in Mexico & before that was in the US for 15 months. Mexico can't defend for love nor money against half decent sides & are shocking when not playing at altitude.

    The US on the other hand have steadily progressed over the past few years, had a decent win over Turkey last week and of course made the final of confederations cup after beating Spain before rolling over for Brasil in the final.

    Mexico's group is made up of sides that all appear to have a chance of beating each other, but no one here is expecting anything from them at all, whilst the USA are well organised & excellent on the counter attack with Donovan superb for them.

    It's not beyond Mexico to progress from the group, but i'll be amazed if they do better than the US!

  • Comment number 66.

    Good blog Tim.

    Would not the world (neutral fans of football) love to see Argentina winning the world cup as it would give the great Maradona a redemption. They certainly have the squad and talent to do it. They only need that luck quotient to win is what i think Tim. What do you think Tim?

    Also what do you think are the chances of the defending champions AZZURI?. They have never been favourites to win but they end up winning as it happend in 2006 and 1982 and also in 1934 and 1938. They are the only team to have won back to back apart from Samba army. I certainly think they certainly have the ability under the guidance of Lippi a master tactician. What do think Tim?

  • Comment number 67.

    Re: The Argentinian first XI

    What you say there is near enough to my prediction, however, the fact that Maradona plays - and always will - four centre backs, means that Jonas maybe only considered back up to Otamendi, with the possibility of Maxi adding stability later on in matches.

    The Liverpool man's versatility reflects a general theme in the squad. Maradona doesn't need to stick to one specific formation or set of tactics, as the very left footed Di Maria can move to the right if opposition's left backs are cutting out Jonas' conventional crosses with ease. The same can be said for Messi who can play anywhere in the attacking area (but he must be given a position of comfort). In defence, Otamendi, Burdisso, Heinze and Demichelis can all play in multiple positions. These options will make the side as unpredictable as Maradona's personality!


    Re: Hidden Stars

    NICOLAS LODEIRA! He will be world class, and this is the perfect stage for him to show that. It's a shame the rumours linking him to Liverpool weren't suffice for a move. The same goes for Suarez, but a performance from him in the finals will be somewhat expected considering his outstanding season!

    I'm in agreement about Lucas Barrios. I really want to meet Borussia Dortmund scouts! It's a shame his team mate, Nuri Sahin isn't at the tournament.

    The other players I'm looking forward to see are, Park Chu-Young, Eren Derdiyok and Shinji Okasaki and Keisuke Honda.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A67909945
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A67937845
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A67985789
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A68115918

    Here you can see my justification for seeing those players. But, please note that some of the players on the articles aren't going to South Africa, whether that be because of injury or managerial ignorance (Dunga once again).

  • Comment number 68.

    This is the South American blog guys.

    Anyway, Honda for CSKA Moscow we've all seen is a very good dead ball specialist, they usurped Sevilla and played Inter-Milan respectfully if not threateningly.

  • Comment number 69.

    Tim,

    LODEIRO is a good player but far from a future star. I think he is overrated, not by the uruguayans but from the international press. He has a very good left foot and he is very inteligent, but his physique limits him a lot: he is slow and not very strong.

    In Uruguay, we have such a lack of creative midfielders that any appearance above the average creates a los of expectation. I hope I´m wrong, but I expect more from other young uruguayan players like Abel Hernandez and Tabaré Viudez

    Nice blog BTW

  • Comment number 70.

    @62 Lucifer,
    You sound like your name Lucifer.
    Are you suggesting that Asian football is ahead of African football or you are just one of those who hate anything Africa.
    Did an African take your woman from you?

  • Comment number 71.

    @18 THEFC6061,

    Which African team is a no-hoper? Which Sub-saharan African team can England win at the world cup? Have you forgotten how England struggle against Sub-saharan African teams at the world cup? Against Cameroun in 1990 with the help of the referee and struggled to get a goaless with Nigeria in 2002 with Nigerian parading their 2nd eleven without the Olisehs, Amokachis, Okochas, Finidis.
    Do you call the Drogbas, Etos and the Mikels no-hopers.
    You need some football education then to get awareness of the game and its progress. The best footballers in the English League are the no-hopers.
    Drogba has been the best attacker and highest goal scorer in England for 2 or 3 seasons. Eto was in Spain for 2 seasons. Are they no-hopers?
    If you want to talk of no-hopers, it is a team captained by an old Rio Ferdinand, who is a spectator when playing against Drogba.

  • Comment number 72.

    @66 "Would not the world (neutral fans of football) love to see Argentina winning the world cup as it would give the great Maradona a redemption"

    redemption?...Maradona is already a god for the Argentines, were they to win the WC, they'd probably rename Argentina to Maradonaland and replace their system of government with a Monarchy led by King Diego.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good blog. Hope there are a few more unknown quantities than expected - I wann see how well Kim Myong-won plays in nets! :)

  • Comment number 74.

    I'd rather see some attractive football, Netherlands is really the only team that really follows football as an art and can pull it off. Winning on aggregate 7-1 over France and Italy in the Euro are without question some of the best football seen in a long time and a vast improvement over their '06 showing. They are a real pleasure to watch. When they ultimately failed in the Euro, what do you know? A Dutchman was managing Russia. Odd occasion then to see a year later, Russia falling to the underdogs Slovenia. Of multiple World Cup winners, save the '94 shootout, Brazil is about the only team to win convincingly while other World Cups like 1934 were clearly heavily manipulated and perhaps others as well.

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't know if you will read this before you do the World Football Phone-In show tonight, but I am posting this here on the off chance that you might.
    Hearing you talk recently about the attacking style of Chile and their 3-3-1-3 formation deployed by Marcelo Bielsa has me incredibly interested in how they fare at the World Cup. I just have a couple of quick questions for you about the history of the Chilean National team. I was wondering if you could explain the "Robert Rojas Scandal" in 1989, and the consequences it had on Chilean football and the repercussion it had for the team and Rojas himself.
    Also, I was wondering if you could explain the 1974 World Cup playoff between Chile and the Soviet Union, or if you know of any places theres a detailed account written about it.
    I have no idea how many questions you need for tonight's four hour special so, this is added in case there is extra time, I know in South Africa during Apartheid, many South Africans actively rooted for any team that was playing against the Springboks in rugby. Did things like this ever happen in South America? Did Argentines ever root against their country because of Peron, Videla and the Dirty War? Same thing with Chile because of the coup d'etat against Allende by Pinochet? Or if there are any other examples, in South America?
    One last thing, is there any football documentaries that you can recommend?
    Thank you for time, and you are by far my favorite football analyst, to watch listen or read to, well you are tied with Jonathan Wilson.
    Alexander from Buffalo, NY.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think the surprise teams in the World Cup 2010 are going to be Mexico, USA, Brazil, Argentina and an African Team.For some reason I feel Brazil is going to be low performing. USA and Mexico will be the dark horse and despite all analysis, Argentina is a lot better than than what the media is speculating. Just look at the talent - its surreal.Also at least one African team in the Semi Final.

  • Comment number 77.

    @70 Dennis

    What im asking Dennis is what has Africa done in order to earn 5 automatic places in a World Cup Tournament? Africa has the worst record in World Cups of all confederations aside from Oceania.

    The African players have better physical attributes than technical ones , fine if you like your Football Wimbledon circa 1992 style.

    So tell me? Ive told you why they shouldnt, let me know why they should?

  • Comment number 78.

    Tim, I see that France are looking woefully short of form and confidence. Do you think Uruguay have the confidence in themselves as a team and the ability to beat them in their opening group match on Friday?

  • Comment number 79.

    @78

    I think it will be an even match but I have the same doubt about the confidence. In 2002 all the uruguayan players said that they respected France too much, even playing with one more player almost 60 mins. This time I think they are more assured (I hope).

    BTW, Uruguay fate will depend on the unknow "Nacho" Gonzalez, the playmaker. Lodeiro will start in the bench.

  • Comment number 80.

    Tim,

    What do you think about Marek Marin? He surprised me. I think he is a refreshing appearance for the structured german Nationalmannschaft.
    (I know this has nothing to do with south american football, sorry)

  • Comment number 81.

    "By no means all of his choices would be mine but for the moment I cannot see the disaster that so many appear to want." Damn straight, and though i'm not so prickly as a few others on here as regards the apparent conspiracy to blacken Argentina's name, there has been a touch too many references to 'madcap circuses' and 'chaos' in relation to Maradona recently. Some thoughts if ye're interested: http://pegamequemegusta.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/maradona-madness-and-butterflies/

    @the dirty tackle: great coinage - let's hope Chile's 'deliverability' is optimised!

  • Comment number 82.

    @79
    Uruguay have always had lots of potential but they have only played 45 minutes of decent football in the past 40 years of the World Cup Finals. And it took them to be 0-3 down to Senegal and staring elimination in the face back in 2002 to actually perform to their potential.

    Let's hope this time around they decide to do that from the beginning. Same goes for Paraguay. Two teams that when it comes to the world cup, forget all about good football and just play not to lose instead of trying to win.

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi Tim. Not sure if you are still reading the submissions on this site but here goes anyway. Argentina 1 Nigeria 0 was not a true reflection of the game I thought. It could have been 5-4. It was the Lionel Messi show and I'm worried that he will burn out if he keeps playing like this for 90' for the remainder of the tournament. I was surprised that Maradonna did not give him a break with 15 mins. to go.
    The defence! If Maradonna keeps playing this same back 4 then they will not survive the knockout stages. Jonas was awful and was beaten time and again and also he kept going for the same high ball as Di Mechiles who was equally poor, and they kept running into each other. Heinze on the other side was not much better, and only Samuel looked up to it. Romero was shaky in goal as well and kept punching the ball whe he should have been catching it. Teams like France (Ribery & Malouda) and Holland (Robben and Elia) who have wingers, will have a field day against that defence and goals will be conceded. The question is can Argentian score more than they concede? Is there anyway that Maradona can tighten up the defence, because Nigeria could have had several goals if they had only had better strikers? I would not be surprised to see South Korea give the Argentines problems.
    Are you in S. Africa?

  • Comment number 84.

    I've grown up on World Cup memories of great footballers and great performances when it really mattered. 1982 had Zico, Rossi, Falcao. 86 Maradona, 90 Maradona, 94 Baggio and Romario, 98 Zidane, 02 Ronaldinho, 06 Zidane, etc.
    Why has no one shone during this competition? Is it because coaches are squeezing individual flair from their teams to make them more conservative and harder to score against? Do teams want not to lose rather than to try to win?

  • Comment number 85.

    The defence! If Maradonna HP0-D07 keeps playing this same back 4 then they will not survive the knockout stages. Jonas was awful and was beaten time and again and also he kept going for the same high ball as Di Mechiles who was equally poor, and they kept running into each other. Heinze on the other side was not much better, and only Samuel 646-205 looked up to it. Romero was shaky in goal as well and kept punching the ball whe he should have been catching it. Teams like France (Ribery & Malouda) and Holland (Robben and Elia) who have wingers, will have a field day against that defence and goals will be conceded. The question is can Argentian score more than they concede? Is there anyway that Maradona can tighten up the defence, because Nigeria could have had RH302 several goals if they had only had better strikers? I would not be surprised to see South Korea give the Argentines problems.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 88.

    Uruguay have always had lots of potential but they have only played 45 minutes of decent football in the past 40 years of the World Cup Finals. And it took them to be 0-3 down to Senegal and staring elimination in the face back in 2002 to actually perform to their potential. ConstructionCivil Engineering SocietyConstruction ofCivil Engineering

  • Comment number 89.

    Sometimes, if you have too many European based players who have forgotten their roots, this sort of cooperative and community environment in the squad could be missing, and if you have too many individualistic players in the squad, you're unlikely to do well as a team. This isn't to say that all European based players are like this at all, but there is a danger which Maradona has probably identified. Please note that this description of "national pride" shouldn't be confused with jingoism and ugly nationalism. Unfortunately, globalisation has allowed the far right to claim national pride and use to further their ugly and despicable philosophy. In reality, anyone can feel national pride, as long as you live in the country, and it transcends race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. work onlinemake money from homepayday loansbest payday loans..

  • Comment number 90.

    ot fully porno conversant with Penarol's rich erotik history in Uruguyan football but, a player I do remember seeing a fair bit of them mid nineties as a bleary indir eyed teenager watching full South American football in porno seyret the early hours and Pablo Bengoechea was a fantastic midfielder if I recall, yeşilçam erotik film I would have loved to see diyarbakır evden eve nakliyatwondered what role if any he has in ligtv izle football loved to see son bölümü izlewondere

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 94.

    I high appreciate this post. It’s hard to find the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it! would you mind updating your blog with more information?
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  • Comment number 97.

    I think that the real surprise package were Spain. Although they were one of the favourites before the tournament, they were in also one of the favourites in a number of previous world cups, but they always disappointed. Finally this time, for some reason, Spain delivered, and they did it playing in their entertaining style.

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