The opening match defines the tempo of the group stages and in South Africa v. Mexico you have a defensive more conservative host nation warding off an attacking, fly whenever possible squad in Mexico that is much improved over the last 3 World Cups. Mexico will shoot from anywhere, yet often gets beat down in the box, however always play like they can win the game. For being scrappy, Mexico wins out 2-1. Mexico will also go on to overtake the French 1-0 in a match that will be hard fought, but Ochoa in the box is a fox and Blanco will set-up a shot that anyone of his forwards will easily put in Les Blues goal. Match of the series, Uruguay v. Mexico for all the marbles.
Uruguay as a 2 time champion and is the 1st winner of the World Cup. What does that mean, sometimes nothing, however with a renewed ferocious attacking strike-force in Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez supported by Sebastian Abreu at the forward positions you'll be hard pressed to keep them down. What do I mean, THEY WILL HURT YOU BAD! Uruguay gets past the troubled French squad 3-1 and takes the number 1 position. How? by going on to soundly beat South Africa and a tie with Mexico as they have such different styles and will spend more time figuring each other out. The goal is, TO SCORE MORE GOALS! and play tough defense so you can win more games and have a goal difference advantage. If you win 3 games of course you win, if you win 2 games you're almost guaranteed to move on the round of 16, but if you only win 1 game, you better score a lot of goals. Uruguay is a team that can score a lot of goals.
Now one of the major issues in this group is that the host nation has always come out of the group stage in all 17 previous World Cups, which I see happening in the lowest rank team in South Africa. What is scary, TRADITION ONCE AGAIN! Why do I say that? South Africa is not only playing at home, playing in the first World Cup in Africa, but have a deep sense of pride that has overcome much poverty, apartheid and for a time attacks by one of the most formidable armies in the World, England. This is a deeper sense of an evaluation that takes into account the simple fact that the English figured with rifles and pistols they would easily control and overtake a frenzied group of tribes who carried spears and leather shields. They were completely wrong and the Zulu Nation overran many a British line that led to much respect and in modern times several movies about it's leaders, battles and people.
Taking it back to France and you see a team that on paper is the strongest on paper in terms of pedigree, talent and experience yet doesn't play like it. Of course with the retirement of Zinedine Zidane they lost leadership, firepower and a sense of bravado that they have been lacking. France had been so lost, they nearly failed to qualify and only lucked out by one of those "mano de Dios" plays that you wouldn't expect to see anymore after such infamous a goal had been scored by Argentina's Maradona in 1986 versus England in the Quarter Finals. They're saving grace? Thiere Henry is coming off the bench and as an experienced striker who has played on the best teams, scoring several goals, he could be this Cup's Roger Milla of Cameroon in 1990's schlacking of Colombia (yes painful memories) by scoring goals of the bench and leading his team to the second round.
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