France has a squad that is as good as it always has been, and such teams will always be able to go the whole way. But if Argentina has Loco Diego, and England have the media, then France have Domenech. The French team is much divided right now. Henry has lost the captaincy, Evra has received it, and Gallas is outraged since he wasn’t pointed captain. Anelka and Ribery will not pass the ball to some players because they want the other players in the team. Domenech have not managed to make a team of his players. The qualification for France was nothing to cheer for either, and they had to resort to some creative means to get to South Africa. But they’re there, and with the players they have they can’t be ruled out. But from where I’m sitting they will not reach far in this world cup.

(can he make french stars work?)

The Netherlands has some fantastic players and they play attacking football better than most. Van Bommel, de Jong, Sneijder, van der Vaart, Robben and van Persie can play any team out of the pitch from early morning until the cows come home, and that they are the most likely to do as well. At least for some period of time. There is something about these Dutchmen when it comes to good football, my favourite player when I was little was Marco van Basten. The problem is unfortunately that they rarely deliver when the knock out stages comes and the pressure is on them. Because then the fine attacking football suddently disapears. If they come second in their group, they might face Italy in the first knock out round. If they come to the quarter finals as winners of their group, they might meet Brazil. Then we will see what their made of.

(Time for Robben to make the big difference)

You can always count on Germany in a cup. The football history is full of examples where there is trouble in the German camp, and then they crawl their way through from the group stage and finally end as a finalist. Gary Lineker once said. Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans win. This time I believe however, that even Lineker is wrong. Germany lacks the big names that the major competitors have and the forwards may not have had their best season this year. But Bayern Munich was in the final of the Champions League this season, and several of the players from there can provide some confidence to the team. Germany will not win this World Cup, but Germany is a machinery that could grind any team to pieces.

Italy is the reigning champion but I doubt that they will defend the title. They probably have too many players who either were on top in the previous world cup, or will be on top in the next world cup. But they are world champions in cynical football, and they can go a long way on that. They have proven that over the years, and they don’t need to play the best football as long as they win.

(We will problably not see this in South Afrika)

Portugal is a team that can go far in this world cup. Their defense is very strong, and they have a well balanced midfield with Pepe as defensive anchor in front of Deco, and the attack can scare the knickers out of any defender. But their strongest card is no doubt Ronaldo. And this world cup could be his. All the stars in this world cup have had a lot of media attention on them, but it has been silent around Ronaldo. He might just have had the best preparations thinkable before this world cup. I think so anyway. And if I’m right he might be the king of this world cup.

(King of the world cup 2010?)

I’m like most other boys and men (and women) very interested in football, and this is only my own thoughts about the different teams. I am far from an expert, and will probably miss badly in my analysis of several teams. However, that is what football is all about, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone has the right to be wrong.

Morten Gamst Pedersen