It seems that Liverpool have finally agreed a deal for Roy Hodgson, the compensation with Fulham which was causing the delay is rumoured to be around £2m. Manuel Pelligrini, Kenny Dalglish, Martin O'Neil, Mark Hughes, Guus Hiddink, Frank Rijkaard, Slaven Bilic, Marcello Lippi were all

WC 2010 : Spain 2 - 1 Chile

Last 16 Knockouts - As It Stands

We run the rule over what could be some of the possible fixtures of the last 16.

Every group has now finished 2 matches and many groups are still left with very very interesting fixtures. Although heavy-weights Argentina, Brazil and Netherlands have already qualified for the knockouts, the future of England, Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Portugal still remains in balance. Here is the fixture list of the 1st knockout round if the group standings stay as they are.

( Time: GMT )

June 26, 2010

Uruguay v Korea Republic 14:00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

With Uruguay and Mexico both locked at 4 pts while France and South Africa with 1pt each, the teams which will be going through still depends on both the matches. But only a miracle can save France and South Africa now!

Slovenia v Germany 18:30 Royal Bafokeng Stadium

Slovenia just need a draw against England to go through and a win to top the group. Meanwhile, if England and USA both win their respective matches, they both go through eliminating Slovenia.

June 27, 2010

Ghana v USA 14:00 Free State Stadium

Ghana is right now top of their group but they can even not qualify to the knockouts such is the situation in this group. Germany play Ghana while Australia play Serbia. All the teams are in with a shout of qualifying!

*Argentina v Mexico 18:30 Soccer City Stadium

Argentina is sure to top their group. Now, the fight is between Greece and Korea Republic who are with 3 pts each. Nigeria also have a glimmer of hope although they are on 0 pts.

June 28, 2010

*Netherlands v Italy 14:00 Durban Stadium

Netherlands need a point to secure top spot. Japan and Denmark are both locked at 3 pts, Cameroon with 0 pts. Japan play Denmark while netherlands play Cameroon.

*Brazil v Spain 18:30 Ellis Park

Brazil meet Portugal in their last match. Brazil will retain top spot if they do not lose. While Portugal need only a point to ensure progress to the knockouts. Ivory Coast plays Korea DPR in their last match and the Africans have to win to have any hopes of qualifying.

June 29, 2010

Paraguay v Japan 14:00 Loftus Versfeld Stadium

Italy play Slovakia while Paraguay go against New Zealand. Paraguay, with 4 pts, need a win to ensure top spot. Italy(2 pts) will have to win against Slovakia(1 pt) to totally ensure their qualification. New Zealand(2 pts) will also hope to win against Paraguay.

Chile v Portugal 18:30 Cape Town Stadium

Chile has 6 pts but can still be knocked out if results go against them. If Switzerland(3 pts) secure a win against Honduras, then Spain(3 pts) has to beat Chile to have a chance of going through. Things are tight in this group.

* Team has already qualified.

WC 2010 : Portugal 7 - 0 North Korea

Highlights and Goals

WC 2010 : Slovakia 0 - 2 Paraguay

WC 2010 : France 0 - 2 Mexico

WC 2010 : Greece 2 - 1 Nigeria

WC 2010 : Spain 0 - 1 Switzerland

Switzerland : Gelson Fernandes

WC 2010 : Italy 1 - 1 Paraguay

WC 2010 : Netherlands 2 - 0 Denmark

WC 2010 : Brazil 2 - 1 North Korea

WC 2010 : Germany 4 - 0 Australia

WC 2010 : England 1 - 1 USA

WC 2010 : Argentina 1 - 0 Nigeria

WC 2010 : Korea 2 - 0 Greece

WC 2010 : Uruguay 0 - 0 France

WC 2010 : South Africa 1 - 1 Mexico

Highlights And Goals

South Africa - Tshabalala
Mexico - Marquez
The following have been arranged as Fixture Group Local South African time Venue

Group Stage
June 11, 2010

1    South Africa  v  Mexico    A    14:00    Soccer City Stadium
2    Uruguay  v  France    A    18:30    Cape Town Stadium

June 12, 2010

4    South Korea  v  Greece    B    11:30    Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
3    Argentina  v  Nigeria    B    14:00    Ellis Park

5    England  v  United States    C    18:30    Royal Bafokeng Stadium

June 13, 2010

6    Algeria  v  Slovenia    C    11:30    Peter Mokaba Stadium

8    Serbia  v  Ghana    D    14:00    Loftus Versfeld Stadium
7    Germany  v  Australia    D    18:30    Durban Stadium

June 14, 2010

9    Netherlands  v  Denmark    E    11:30    Soccer City Stadium
10    Japan  v  Cameroon    E    14:00    Free State Stadium

11    Italy  v  Paraguay    F    18:30    Cape Town Stadium

June 15, 2010

12    New Zealand  v  Slovakia    F    11:30    Royal Bafokeng Stadium

13    Ivory Coast  v  Portugal    G    14:00    Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
14    Brazil  v  North Korea    G    18:30    Ellis Park

June 16, 2010

15    Honduras  v  Chile    H    11:30    Mbombela Stadium
16    Spain  v  Switzerland    H    14:00    Durban Stadium

17    South Africa  v  Uruguay    A    18:30    Loftus Versfeld Stadium

June 17, 2010

20    Argentina  v  South Korea    B    11:30    Soccer City Stadium
19    Greece  v  Nigeria    B    14:00    Free State Stadium

18    France  v  Mexico    A    18:30    Peter Mokaba Stadium

June 18, 2010

21    Germany  v  Serbia    D    11:30    Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

22    Slovenia  v  United States    C    14:00    Ellis Park
23    England  v  Algeria    C    18:30    Cape Town Stadium

June 19, 2010

25    Netherlands  v  Japan    E    11:30    Durban Stadium
24    Ghana  v  Australia    D    14:00    Royal Bafokeng Stadium
26    Cameroon  v  Denmark    E    18:30    Loftus Versfeld Stadium

June 20, 2010

27    Slovakia  v  Paraguay    F    11:30    Free State Stadium
28    Italy  v  New Zealand    F    14:00    Mbombela Stadium

29    Brazil  v  Ivory Coast    G    18:30    Soccer City Stadium

June 21, 2010

30    Portugal  v  North Korea    G    11:30    Cape Town Stadium

31    Chile  v  Switzerland    H    14:00    Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
32    Spain  v  Honduras    H    18:30    Ellis Park

June 22, 2010

33    Mexico  v  Uruguay    A    14:00    Royal Bafokeng Stadium
34    France  v  South Africa    A    14:00    Free State Stadium

35    Nigeria  v  South Korea    B    18:30    Durban Stadium
36    Greece  v  Argentina    B    18:30    Peter Mokaba Stadium

June 23, 2010

37    Slovenia  v  England    C    14:00    Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
38    United States  v  Algeria    C    14:00    Loftus Versfeld Stadium    

39    Ghana  v  Germany    D    18:30    Soccer City Stadium
40    Australia  v  Serbia    D    18:30    Mbombela Stadium

June 24, 2010

41    Slovakia  v  Italy    F    14:00    Ellis Park
42    Paraguay  v  New Zealand    F    14:00    Peter Mokaba Stadium

43    Denmark  v  Japan    E    18:30    Royal Bafokeng Stadium
44    Cameroon  v  Netherlands    E    18:30    Cape Town Stadium

June 25, 2010

46    North Korea  v  Ivory Coast    G    14:00    Mbombela Stadium
45    Portugal  v  Brazil    G    14:00    Durban Stadium

48    Switzerland  v  Honduras    H    18:30    Free State Stadium
47    Chile  v  Spain    H    18:30    Loftus Versfeld Stadium

Your Guide to SA 2010 : BRAZIL


It almost goes without saying that Brazil, the five time World Champions, go into every World Cup favoured to add yet another star to the legendary Amarelinha shirt. This year too, bookmakers believe that Brazil are in with a fantastic chance of winning the showpiece event. And frankly speaking, I don't blame the bookies given Brazil's squad quality and rich footballing past.


Under manager Carlos Alberto Perreira, the FIFA World Cup 2006 had been very much of a disappointment for fans and players alike after Brazil crashed out in the Quarter finals after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of eventual finalists France. They boasted of a brilliant 11 match unbeaten run since FIFA 1998 which came to an end in the Quarter finals at FIFA World Cup Germany, 2006. The road to the quarter finals was smooth for Brazil and many had already put their bets on Brazil winning the event. But, a solid defensive display from France coupled with fantastic swift attacking led to the downfall of a surprisingly lacklustre Brazil side. The defending champs were undone with a moment of brilliance from Thierry Henry although it was the master Zinedine Zidane who wreck havoc on that day.


Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, better known as Dunga, upon taking the job in August 2006, had already experienced the high level of emotions that came with playing for Brazil. The powerful midfielder had skippered Brazil to victory in the FIFA World Cup 1994, USA. A master tactician and with Brazilian football in his blood, Dunga silenced his critics when he won the 2007 Copa America and The FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 alongwith clinching qualification for the 2010 event with 3 match days to spare. The Brazilian has a very talented and spirited team at his disposal and it wouldn't be surprising to see them playing at their best under this Master.


Goalkeepers :
Julio Cesar, Gomes, Doni.

Defenders :
Maicon, Juan, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Lucio, Michel Bastos, Luisao, Gilberto Melo.

Midfielders :
Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Josue, Julio Baptista, Elano, Kaka, Ramires, Kleberson.

Forwards :
Luis Fabiano, Nilmar, Robinho, Grafite.


The Brazilian squad is full of World Class players. The spine of the team is very strong and the players playing around the spine are equally talented. The Brazil squad is a perfect blend of Youth and Experience and they effortlessly can make opponents look helpless. Add to that a master technician in Dunga and you get a complete entertainment package. Brazil is and always will be a massive threat to opposition teams because they have more players capable of producing magic on the pitch. Defensively, Brazil look very miserly whereas their swift passing and flair on the ball make for some attractive attacking play as well.


Normally you wouldn't relate weaknesses with Brazil but I think this time if there is a chink in the armour then its gotta be their Strike Force. Robinho has been out of form lately whereas Nilmar and Grafite are relatively inexperienced on the World stage. Luis Fabiano, on the other hand was in tremendous goal scoring form during the qualifiers but even he has failed to score in the past 3 matches. Though this is not much of a weakness given Brazil's stock of attacking players, it can be exposed by some tight defending and counter attacking football. To describe their weakness in a line, I would say that if u play football "Mourinho" style, you have got a chance against them..!


Julio Cesar

This Inter Milan man has shown us during this last season why he is the first choice Brazil keeper. Gifted with a super pair of hands, he has developed excellent reflexes and shot stopping ability. It is in no point down to him that Brazil have been so miserly defensively.


Brazil skipper and arguably Inter Milan's best player of the year alongwith Sneijder of course, Lucio has only improved with age. Some might say that age is not on his side but better look before you speak because he has defied all odds and is arguably is one of the best defenders in World football today. Excellent heading ability and his instinct to sense danger have made him one of the most difficult defenders to play against.


Completing the Brazilian spine in midfield is 'Kaka'. The Real Madrid player has been plagued by injuries throughout the season but stats show that both Brazil and Real Madrid have won more matches when he plays. Such is the quality and ability of this midfield playmaker cum goalscorer that has made him one of World football's biggest names. Armed with great Vision and craft, he is one of the most influential midfielders that the game has produced.


Brazil have been and always will be one of the favourites to win the mega event. This year, we predict them to definitely reach upto the Semi finals of the tournament. Even though they have been placed in a 'Group of Death', I think they have the quality in them to qualify for the knockout rounds and go upto the Semis. From thereon its all about who plays the best football on that day, and Brazil will definitely be a force to reckon with in the latter stages of the tournament.

Your Guide to SA 2010 : Spain

FIFA Ranking : 2

Spain, the current European champions, are the bookies favourites to win the World Cup this time around. After a long wait of 44 years, they led their country to a trophy after a 1-0 win over Germany thereby claiming Euro 2008. Spain have had 12 appearances in the World Cup uptill now - however they've never managed to win one, their best was a 4th place finish in 1950!


Vicenete Del Bosque was appointed as manager after Luis Aragones led Spain to Euro glory in 2008. The highly rated manager has kept the principles maintained by Aragones. Keeping the squad unity and harmony was of utmost importance and he did the most important job of keeping the Spanish side completely down to earth and professional.


Iker Casillas (c) Víctor Valdés Pepe Reina

Sergio Ramos, Joan Capdevila, Álvaro Arbeloa, Raúl Albiol, Gerard Piqué, Carlos Marchena , Carles Puyol

Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Cesc Fàbregas, Juan Manuel Mata, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Javi Martínez, David Silva, Jesús Navas

David Villa, Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Pedro Rodríguez

Squad Strengths
Cesc Fabregas, on of the best central midfielder currently plying his trade has to sit on the bench - Pepe Reina, could easily be 1st choice keeper for most of top teams - is on the bench. Not only strength in depth, it's the quality that they possess in their reserves which will help them whenever their best 11 are not performing. Then again, a fine margin that separates the the best 11 and the next 11 - Spain's reserves can straight away walk into any other National side. It's this ability to mix and match players of different abilities and tremendous quality that gives the current Spanish side the cutting edge!

Squad Weakness

It was only until Euro 2008 that Spain had the tag of perennial chokers attached to them. Getting that jinx out of the way was one job done, but maintaing momentum is what is always difficult. Spain have a very strong squad, however if they don't click seem lost at times. Their performances at the Confederation cup last year wasn't upto the mark and they were rightly knocked out by USA. It's all about have the confidence to kill and getting the job done which Spain lacks at the moment and despite the silky football they play, sometimes you have to win ugly!

Men To Watch

Iker Cassillas, has been a phenomenon for both club and country. With over 100 caps, the Real Madrid star is the worth candidate leading a phenomenol team. He has to be considered as a very special part of a golden team as he consistently produces some of his match winning saves in front of goal. And to make sure the Spanish team doesn't rely heavily on him, there's Carlos Puyol at the back. Calm and composed, he's responsible for the organised defence and sanity at the back

Yes, Fernando Torres and David Villa make a tremendous strike pair but there's always the engine of the team which makes them such a lethal and attractive proposition. Xavi is often shadowed by the star pair in attack - Stellar in midfield, Xavi has the key to the most stubborn defence by picking the right pass at the right time.

FP Verdict

Spain have never won a World Cup. Despite the strength in debt and the wealth of quality at their disposal, they've never maintained the killer instinct of finishing off games. The team is filled with utmost quality and will play some of the best football - and in the true sense, may have what it takes to go all the way this time around.

Your Guide to SA 2010 : Portugal

Justify Full


Portugal's recent form doesn't suggest they are the no. 3 team in the world. They have depended largely on Ronaldo to provide the inspiration in every game. Having had a shock 0-0 result against 117th ranked Cape Verde Islands in a friendly a week ago, there has been an increase in the number of doubters about Portugal's credentials of winning the World Cup this year. But Portugal will certainly hope for the best when they start their World Cup campaign against Ivory Coast on June 15.


Portugal had a relatively easier group last time around with Mexico, Angola and Iran in their group. Portugal coasted through to the knockout stages with wins in all their three matches.

In the knockout 1st round match, they faced a tough opposition in Netherlands. They managed to win that tie 1-0 courtesy a 23rd minute Maniche goal. The match was a live wire with tackles flying everywhere. Boulahrouz tackled Cristiano Ronaldo which apparently injured Ronaldo forcing his substitution at half-time. Cristiano left the field in tears. In the 78th mnute, Deco was sent off after collecting his 2nd yellow card. Netherlands were also down to 10 men when Van Bronckhorst was sent off for a foul in injury time. Next, Portugal faced England in which Deco and Costinha were unavailable due to suspension. This match is infamously remembered for the sending off of Wayne Rooney in extra time, allegedly triggered by his then United team-mate, Ronaldo. The match ended 0-0 after extra time. Portugal went through by winning 3-1 on penalties and they would now appear in their 1st ever WC Semi-Final after 40 years. There, they met a strong team in France where they faced a hostile crowd of English and French fans, accusing Ronaldo of unsporting behaviour. France won the match 1-0 with a Zidane goal and ended Portugal's dream of appearing in a World Cup Final. In the other semi-final, Germany lost to Italy resulting in a 3rd place playoff between Portugal and Germany. The first half, both the teams played cautiously. But the Germans managed to bang in 3 goals in 20 mins of the 2nd half. Portugal got a consolation goal through Nuno Gomes in the 88th minute and the match ended 3-1 in favour of Germany resulting in Portugal finishing 4th in the 2006 World Cup.


After having left the Manchester United no. 2 job for Portugal's no.1 job, Carlos Queiroz has certainly struggled to make his mark as a top coach. He has often been termed as 'lucky' by the Portugal fans. He will certainly be looking forward to impress the Portugal fans and the world alike at the World Cup.


Beto, Daniel Fernandes, Eduardo

Fabio Coentrao, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves, Rolando, Ricardo Costa, Duda, Pepe, Miguel

Tiago, Deco, Raul Meireles, Ruben Amorim (in place of injured Nani), Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes

Simao Sabrosa, Hugo Almeida, Liedson, Cristiano Ronaldo, Danny


Solid in defence, exceptional in midfield and with plenty of options in attack, Portugal are not short of highly-rated players. Technique, speed, alertness, the Portuguese have access to individual strengths on a world class level. In Ronaldo, they have one of the best players in the world. During qualification, their defensive skills allowed for a series of four games in which not a single goal was conceded and which made World Cup participation a reality for the Portuguese.


onsistency is certainly the main weakness for Portugal. Ronaldo hasn't scored for Portugal since EURO 2008. Queiroz's uncertainty as to where to play Ronaldo, as a striker or as an attacking winger, is surely affecting the flow in Ronaldo's game. With Nani's absence, their wing-play will be affected.


Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portugal captain and arguably, the best player in the world, is definitely the key man for Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo has the potential to change any match at any given point of time and will have to be at his best if Portugal are to have any hopes of lifting the World Cup. Having scored 26 goals for Real Madrid this season, Portugal are sure to rely heavily on their captain to provide inspiration.


The Zenit St. Petersburg star is the Russian league's most expensive player, but the no. 10 remains an enigma in western Europe, despite having the capabilities to control a game on his own.


Portugal have been very inconsistent in terms of their results in the recent past having required to play a playoff to qualify for the World Cup which clearly doesn't make worthy of their 3rd rank in the world. With Nani now out of the World Cup and having Brazil in their group certainly doesn't make things easier for them, but the uncertainty of Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba's presence in the initial stages of the tournament means that Ivory Coast will be a far lesser threat to the other teams. Portugal should qualify to the knockout stages.

FIFA Ranking: 4

You can never write off Oranje of any major competition. They are one of the strongest contenders for this WC too . The team is famous for their Total Football and was nicknamed as Clockwork Orange for their precise passing . Their strong counter-attacking and free flowing football makes them one of the best in business .

The Dutch team went on to secure a 100 percent record in their World Cup 2010 qualification campaign , winning all eight games and becoming the first European team to qualify for the World cup .

Last World Cup Journey:

Netherlands were drawn in the same group with Argentina , Serbia and the Cote d'Ivoire and secured the second spot in the team . Though they had as many points as Argentina had , Argentina had a better goal difference . Oranje were eliminated in the round of sixteen after the " Battle Of Nuremberg " . The match was played between The Dutch and Portugal and it saw Sixteen Cautions And Four Red Cards .Four Red Cards in a single WC match was a record in iteslf. Netherlands lost the game 1-0 and were out of the WC .

The Manager:

Bert van Marwijik replaced Marco van Basten after Euro 2008 as a head coach of Netherlands football team. He has a good history as a manager if not splendid . He led Feyenoord to win the then UEFA Cup . His managerial team will include Frank de Boar , Phillip Cocu , Dick Voom . And the squad will be relying on Marwijik and his tactics if they are to win the cup .


Goalkeepers :
Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Sander Boschker (FC Twente), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)

Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (HSV), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Andre Ooijer (PSV);

Midfielders :

Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Inter), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV);


Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Eljero Elia (HSV), Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).


Squad Strengths
Netherlands strength is their Counter Attacking and free flowing football . Arjen Robben with his pace and ability to finish , the opposition must have someone of his caliber to put a stop to him . With Robin van Persie in the squad and fit , They will have another player who can shoot with comfort and find the net . In midfield Wesley Sneijder who will take the runs and the efforts to provide the ball And Rafael Ferdinand van der vaart if used properly can upset the opposition defence too .


Squad Weakness :
I am not saying Maarten Stekelenburg is not a good enough goalkeeper , but they will certainly miss Van der Sar due to his retirement from national football . Netherlands weakness will be its defence . With most of their men committed to attack , they should not forget to watch their backs .

Men to watch:

Arjen Robben , who plays as a winger will be undoubtedly the man to watch in the Netherlands squad . He has got the pace , the Stamina , He can run past defenders with ease , He can put the ball in the box and he can score . What more do you want from a player ?
With as qualified as him , opposition defenders are going to have a headache keeping an eye on him and stopping him . He'll be the man for Oranje .
The current Dutch side has expert finishers in Persie , Robben and they just need good passes to convert them .With his passing combined with the shooting which is almost always on the target , Wesley Sneijder is the man to watch . He is Netherlands ace in the hole.

FP Prediction

They have been drawn in with Denmark , Japan and Cameroon. Netherlands are favorites to get the top spot in the group. With their strong squad, they should be able to reach Semi Finals, being one of the strongest contenders to win it too.

Your Guide to SA 2010 : Italy

FIFA Ranking: 5

The Defending Champions will obviously be among the top contenders for the Cup. With most of their stars playing their last World Cup this time, the Azzuri will look to live up to the official song of the tounament - ' When I get older, I will be Stronger '. And they do look really strong.

Last World Cup Journey:

Italy came into the World Cup 2006 with a point to prove. After the scandal at Juventus, it was a bad time for Italian football. They were placed with USA, Ghana and Czech Republic for the group stages. Winning two games comfortably and drawing against USA, they came up against Australia in the knockout stage. It took an injury time penalty to win that game after Italy played with ten men 40 odd minutes. It was disciplined defending that saw the Italians go to the quarter finals against ukraine which they comfortably won. The real challenge was the semi-final against hosts Germany. Del Peiro and Grosso scored a goal each in the second half of Extra time after a goalless 90 minutes to seal a berth in the finals for Italy. The 2006 World Cup final was a memorable affair. Zizou scored of a penalty awarded because of a challenge by Marco Materzzi. Materazzi scored off a Pirlo corner. The rest of the game was dominated by France but the scoreline remained level. Buffon's save denying Zidane a second goal was arguably the save of the tounament. Then Zidane was sent off and the game progressed to the penalties where the Italians buried every penalty to the back of the net, but the upright denied Trezeguet a goal and Italy were Champions.

The Manager:

Marcello Lippi was first appointed as the national coach in 2004 after two successful seasons with Juventus. He lead them to the Crown in 2006 but let go of his job after the victory, stating that his job for the country was done. After an ungracious exit from the Euro 2008 in the Quarter-finals under Roberto Donadoni, Lippi was recalled and here he is again. An amazing tactician, his genius is something the Italians will rely heavily upon.


Goalkeepers :
Gianluigi BUFFON, Federico MARCHETTI, Morgan DE SANCTIS

Christian MAGGIODomenico CRISCITO, Giorgio CHIELLINI, Fabio CANNAVARO, Salvatore BOCCHETTI, Gianluca ZAMBROTTA, Leonardo BONUCCI

Midfielders :
Daniele DE ROSSI, Simone PEPE, Gennaro GATTUSO, Claudio MARCHISIO, Mauro CAMORANESI, Angelo PALOMBO, Andrea PIRLO, Riccardo MONTOLIVO



Squad Strengths

The Defending Champions will be riding high on the experience of their veteran players and the genius of their manager to adapt to situations. It is necessary here to mention how Lippi changed the formation later on in the game against Germany in 2006 where he employed three forwards and an attacking midfielder and sure enough Italy was awarded with two goals in Extra time.

Squad Weakness

Of the 23 man squad, 9 players are aged above thirty and most of these 9 will be in the playing 11. Lippi will have to inject some youth and pace into the team to form the optimum medley.

Men to watch:

Gigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro are two players who inspired Italy to their win in 2006 and will look to repeat the same. With probably the best keeper in the world and another world-class centre back in front of him, scoring against the Azzuri is going to be a very difficult task. Another man who needs to be mentioned here is not a player but the manager Marcello Lippi. Do look out for his tactical changes as the tounament progresses.

FP Prediction

Italy will progress through the group stage pretty easily and with a great deal resilience should make it to the semis. They should also concede the least number of goals in the cup. From the semis onwards it will depend totally upon the geius of players to sniff out an oppurtunity and make the most of it.

Your Guide to SA 2010 : Germany

FIFA Ranking: 6th

Talk about perennial champions in world football and you are talking about teams like Italy, Brazil and Germany. These countries have carved a niche for themselves on the international stage and have eventually ended up with sparkling World Cup histories. Talking about the Germans, they boast three World Cup titles to their name (1954, 1974, 1990), a feat surpassed by only two other nations. A feat achieved solely because of their endless supply of gifted footballers over generations. Maybe it be the timeless ingenuity of Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus or recent wonders like Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski, Germany's footballing resource has always been unparalleled and incomparable. No doubt this sparkling history can act as a dose of motivation for the German lads in South Africa, but it can also leave them psyched. For a country who's real tournament only begins after semifinals, anything less than that in South Africa would mean failure for them. Thus by all means Germany are one of the firm contenders for 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Last World Cup Journey

Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup edition. Backed by a tremendous home support Germany oversaw a splendid WC campaign under the stewardship of Jurgen Klinsmann. They stormed through their group stages scoring 8 times and conceding only twice. Needless to say they finished as the group toppers. In the knock-outs, they bagged a convincing victory over Sweden (2-0) in the pre-quaters and won 4-2 on penalties against Argentina in quaterfinals after playing out a 1-1 humdinger. Their high-flying campaign came crashing down in the semis, when they played against Italy. Two goals at the death from Fabio Grosso (119th minute) and Del Piero (121st minute) handed Germany a brutal defeat and Italy went on to win the World Cup against France. Even so they managed to claim the 3rd place by defeating Portugal in the playoffs. Miroslav Klose was awarded the Golden Boot for his 5 goals in the tourney and Lukas Podolski was adjudged the Best Young Player. Not only this, but four German players ( Jens Lehmann, Philipp Lahm, Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose) featured in the all-star team which was selected the FIFA.

The Manager

Joachim Low, the current manager of Germany has carried on from where Jurgen Klinsmann left of. He and the then coach Klinsmann had deviced a new attacking philosophy for the Germany which resulted in successful outings in 2006 World Cup and 2008 Euro Championships where Germany finished as the runners up. Low is a no-nonsense man and a disciplinarian. His decision to omit Schalke striker Kevin Kuranyi from the WC squad for storming away before the final whistle in a qualifier against Russia depicts the same. In South Africa, Low will have to be at his tactical best since important players like Michael Ballack, Rene Adler, Christian Traesch and Simon Rolfes are out of the World Cup due to injuries.

The Squad

Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese, Hans-Jorg Butt

Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, Serdar Tasci, Marcell Jansen, Per Mertesacker, Aene Friedrich, Philipp Lahm

Marko Marin, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Dennis Aogo, Piotr Trochowski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller

Stefan Kiessling, Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski, Cacau, Miroslav Klose

Squad Strengths

Germany has got abundance of striking options as they have a number of goal scorers in their squad. Goal machine Miroslav Klose and Podolski both are proven performers for their country. They will be looking to repeat the feat they achieved in 2006 World Cup. Midfield too looks threatening. In absence of Ballack, it is expected that Schweinsteiger will be handed a more advanced role in midfield. Add to this the Bremen playmaker Mesut Ozil, who has earned special priases from Beckenbauer is being touted as the next best thing in the German midfield. All in all a very attacking side.

Squad Weakness

Germany's shortcoming is in defence, especially in the goalkeeping position following the tragic suicide last year of their first choice goalkeeper Robert Enke. Bayer Leverkusen's Rene Adler was Germany's no.1 until he was ruled out of World Cup due to rib injury. It is now expected that the less experienced Manuel Neuer will guard the post. But given that Germany are placed in a competitive group, this relative weakness in goal will give Ghana, Australia and Serbia hope of pulling off a major upset. Ironically Germany boasted of one the best goalkeepers of all times Oliver Kahn. Add to this the absence of their inspirational skipper Michael Ballack. Joachim Low clearly has some important decisions to make.

Men To Watch

Miroslav Klose

The veteran striker Miroslav Klose has consistently delivered for Germany on international stage. He has scored 5 goals in each of the previous two World Cups. His 48 goals in 98 matches has put him in the 2nd in German all-time scoring charts. His eye for goals and clinical finishing has surely made him one of the most fearsome strikers in the world.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger came under the limelight for his spirited performance in 2006 World Cup. The 25-year-old midfielder offers immense experience having already crossed 75 caps for Germany. He can operate in central midfield or on both flanks thus providing his manager plenty of options. His long-range shooting skill and wicked vision has made him an important weapon in the German armoury. 

Philipp Lahm

The 26-year-old Bayern Munich defender has been assigned the role of captaincy in absence of Michael Ballack. Lahm has enjoyed an incredible season with Bayern and has attracted interests from many European giants like Manchester United. He has been a revolution in defence who also loves to make frequent forward surges. Lahm along with Mertesacker will play vital roles in Germany's defence.

FP Verdict

Despite many persisting woes one can never write off Germany. Out of 16 times that Germany has appeared in World Cups, they have managed to reach semifinals an astounding 11 times and finals 7 times. Placed in group D along with Australia, Ghana and Serbia, Germany have enough quality and depth to surpass the group stages. Although, as of now, reaching the finals is looking highly unlikely, but history has shown time and again that Germany is capable of producing wonderful footballing spectacles which might just give them an outside chance of clinching their fourth World Cup. So let the game begin!