3 games that I am actually looking forward to today, got New Zealand v Slovakia, I admit I know very little of the New Zealand team, Chris Killen, Rory Fallon, Ryan Nelsen and that’s it so will be interesting to see them play, Slovakia I think have a chance to shock a few times, Martin Hamsik is a quality player, Vittek upfront is great in the air, not seen the teams yet, so don’t know who’s playing.

Then we have Ivory Coast v Portugal, what a game this could be, 2 very strong teams and this match could guarentee 2nd place in the group, rumours are Drogba will play, an Ivory Coast team packed with stars against what is to me a Portugal team rebuilding after their Golden Era but they still have quality players.

Then it’s a match I am really looking forward to Brazil v North Korea, so many memories watching Brazil at World Cups, against a team that is the unknown entity, not one household name player, but they will have the eyes of a nation on them….only if they win, North Korea will only be shown the game back home if they win apparently, which is such a shame, can they pull off a shock like they did in ’66

**Players to Watch**

1.Vladimir Weiss (Slovakia) – Hot young prospect and the coachs son, was on loan at Bolton from Man City this season, plays on the wing, has alot of skill, great platform for him to shine.

2.Martin Hamsik (Slovakia) – The Napoli forward is a great player, likes to play off the front man, has an eye for goal, great technique, if he played for one of the top nations the media would be purring over him.

3.Robert Vittek (Slovakia) - the former Nuremberg and Lille front man is a great target man, holds the ball up well, great in the air, his best days may be behind him, but a player you still need to give respect to.

4.Chris Killen (New Zealand) – Didn’t have the best time at Celtic but his Hibs scoring record was very impressive, could lead the All Whites attack, but he hasn’t exactly set the league alight in Middlesbrough, could this be his stage.

5.Gervinho (Ivory Coast) - The Lille winger has had a great season, after a slow start he exploded, with his blistering pace and ability to score a great foil for Drogba, Looking forward to seeing him reproduce his club form for the world to see.

6.Michel Bastos (Brazil) - Following the great tradition of Brazilian Left Backs next comes Bastos, who is actually a Left Winger for his club Lyon but will suit Brazil’s style of pushing forward, he has an absoulte rocket of a left foot and will let fly if he gets the chance, and will take over the set-pieces, I predict a “next Roberto Carlos reference from the commentators

7.Ramires (Brazil) - I hope Ramires comes on at some stage today, Dunga has been playing Elano I prefer Ramires in the midfield he charges forward but defends well also, gives his all, powerful running and showed he can score in the game against Tanzania, the Benfica man could be the missing piece of this Brazilian jigsaw.

8.Jong Tae-Se (North Korea) - Never seen him play, but I read that he promised he would score in every game he played at this World Cup, so he’s made the claim, let’s see if he can deliver, I refuse to believe that they can be as bad as people think they will, time will tell.

**Predictions**

NEW ZEALAND 0 – 2 SLOVAKIA

IVORY COAST 2 – 1 PORTUGAL

BRAZIL 4 – 0 NORTH KOREA

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GROUP G

Ramires – Brazil – 12 caps (2 goals)

First saw Ramires in the 2009 Confederations Cup and I really thought he added something to the Brazil team, with the defensive play of Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo and the attacking flair of Kaka the team needs something in the middle, recently Elano has been that player, however when Ramires plays he adds a pace and a drive to Brazil’s midfield, scoring 2 goals against Tanzania hopefully will give him a chance to start against North Korea.
He played 30 games for Benfica this year as they won the title scoring 5 goals in the process, his speed and stamina can last the whole 90 minutes and at only 23, he has a long career ahead of him.

 

Jong Tae-Se – North Korea – 22 caps (15 goals)

Born in South Korea, he decided to play for his mother’s birth country and received a North Korean passport to let him play for North Korea, the reason I have picked Jong is that he has made a bold statement that he will score in every game he plays in South Africa, that is a bold statement for a player in a team that everyone considers as one of the weakest, I know nothing about him as a player, so looking forward to seeing what he can do.
 

 

Seydou Doumbia – Ivory Coast – 5 caps (1 goal)

One of the unknown quantities in a Ivory Coast team full of stars, Seydou has been picked for his great form for Young Boys in Switzerland in 2 years he has scored 50 goals in 64 games, a fantastic record whatever the league, and with Drogba possibly being out Seydou could get a chance to see what he can do on the International stage.
 

 

Liedson – Portugal

A player regarded as one of the best ever to wear the the Sporting jersey scoring 111 goals in 201 games a remarkable record, however at 32 he is a late starter to International football but could be the spark that Portugal have been missing in front of goal.
Posses a great eye for goal, and his instincts in front of goal are deadly, looks very lightweight, but he plays alot bigger than he looks, and a great foil for Ronaldo and Deco for Portugal.

 

GROUP H

Juan Mata – Spain – 7 caps (3 goals)

The young Valencia midfielder was a surprise inclusion in the Spain squad, a great season with Villa and co earned Mata his spot, he can play on the left or upfront, great pace and an eye for goal he has been a revelation for Valencia scoring 20 goals in 2 seasons making the blow of losing Villa and David Silva a bit of a softer blow.

Mata adds depth to an already impressive Spain midfield and be there an injury to any of the starters Juan Mata will be a very adequate replacement.

 

Xherdan Shaqiri – Switzerland – 1 cap (0 goals)

Before last week I had never heard of Xherdan, a massive surprise inclusion in Switzerland’s 23 man squad the 18 year old is one of the youngest players going to the World Cup, played 32 games for Basle this year, scoring 4 goals, he must be a talent to get so quickly called up to the first team, will be interesting to see how much game time he gets.
 

 

Carlos Pavon – Honduras – 100 caps (57 goals)

A 36 year old Honduran legend, has moved clubs 20 times, played in Serie A the MLS and now back in Hoduras with Real Espana, Honduras leading all time scorer, and has also tried his hand at a music carerer, but failed, an absolute legend in his hometown, this will be his swansong upfront for Honduras, and I hope he makes an impact on the biggest stage.
 

 

Gary Medel – Chile – 24 caps (3 goals)

Known as the Chileian Gattuso this 22 year old plays for Boca Juniors and is very highly regarded, a talented defensive midfielder known for his intensity, Gary is a player to keep an eye on.
Chile are being picked as a surprise package in South Africa and they could surprise a few and make it through the group stage, and if they do you can bet Gary will have played great in the process.

 

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