People are calling Group G the “group of death”, but I think we have to look past Group G and focus on Group A as the real “group of death.” While Group G has three strong teams that could all easily qualify and will pose a serious threat to each other, in Group A, all four teams are capable of qualifying. While they may not be as strong as the teams in Group G, France, Uruguay, South Africa and Mexico will all cause each other problems.
France: France were lucky to make it to South Africa. In fact, if you ask any Irishman, the French shouldn’t be there at all. They’ve been lackluster since the 2006 World Cup final and are now involved in all sorts of off-field problems. They have the talismanic Franck Ribery in the team, but they can’t just rely on him to deliver the goods. Their manager, Raymond Domenech has even come out and admitted he uses astrology when picking his team. It’s a bit worrying and no wonder the French public don’t like him. France are favorites to win Group A, but it will be a challenge for them without as strong a team as they’ve had in previous World Cups.
Mexico: Mexico are always an exciting team. Remember Blanco’s little jump between two defenders? What about Jorge Campos and his blinding shirts? Traditionally, Mexico have always been fun and they bring something different to the group. They weren’t humiliated in defeat to England and they have some exciting players, most notably Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez. There are class players all over the pitch and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mexicans give everyone a tough game on the pitch. It will be hard, but they have a good mixture of experience and youthfulness that should see them do well.
South Africa: The hosts of the 2010 World Cup and that’s the main thing they’ve got going for them. They don’t have an exceptionally strong team and they are perceived as the whipping boys of Group A, but the fact that World Cup hosts traditionally do well will be enough to put some excitement into the South African camp. In fact, the World Cup hosts have gone on to win the tournament 6 times. Now, I’m not saying that South Africa will win this tournament, but there is history to help them at least make the second round. Just look at South Korea in 2002!
Uruguay: Perhaps the sleeper team of the tournament. They might have only finished 5th in the South American group, having to defeat Costa Rica to reach the World Cup Finals, but they have a strong team, full of traditional South American flair, as well as being solid and tough to break down. In fact, only Brazil were able to take more than 2 goals from them in qualifying, so it bodes well for them. Their main threat is Diego Forlan, who’s been banging goals in for fun in La Liga for Atletico Madrid and it will be important for the team that he’s on the top of his game. If he is and Luis Suarez keeps up his domestic form (49 goals in 48 games for Ajax), Uruguay will scare the rest of the teams in their group.
So, that’s where we stand with the four teams and now we have to find the value out there.
First off, let’s look at potential group winners. I honestly think France will struggle and at around 11/10 to win the group, it’s really not worth touching. Now, they might win, sure, but it won’t be as easy as the odds might suggest. Where we should be looking is in the direction of Uruguay. They had a solid qualifying campaign and have looked good in their pre-tournament friendlies, putting 4 past Israel in their last match and putting 3 past Switzerland before that. They have European-based players that will know the style the French will play against them and maybe their worry should lie with Mexico. Mexico might cause a surprise and they looked good in what was their hardest friendly against England and then put 5 past Gambia. Even South Africa have had a decent build up to the tournament.
Let’s look at group betting prices with Bet365:
South Africa: 6/1
The betting suggests exactly what I’ve suggested in that it really is anyone’s group. However, I think Uruguay might have a bit too much firepower for the rest of the group and I think them being 3rd favorites with Bet365 offers great value, as I would have them a bit shorter.
Uruguay to win Group A: 7/2 @ Bet365.
Group A should really provide the most drama and I wouldn’t expect any outcome to be known until the final whistle of the last group of games, so there should be a lot of excitement for Uruguay backers such as myself and, hopefully, you. 7/2 is exceptional and you really should head over to Bet365, as they’re one of the few places out there you’ll get this price, as most other bookies have Uruguay 2nd favorites for the group.