Also known as the “death group,” Group G is the toughest, thus guaranteeing that a top-tier team will not advance. Yes, that even includes the team most experts think will win it all.
Team: A Seleção
Colors: Yellow and Blue
Brazil has claimed five World Cups, more than any other country, and their national team—A Seleção (The Selection)—is expected to add another star to their famous yellow shirts. The team is so loaded with talent that they’ve been forced on occasion to bench superstars or leave them off the pitch entirely.
On paper, Brazil cannot be defeated (but they can beat themselves). They’ve got speed, skill and discipline; but if they play a bad half, none of that will matter, and the outcome could spell disaster. Will A Seleção live up to the hype and reward their demanding fans? Or will the pressure get to the Brazilians and send them back home in disgrace?
Key Players: Kaka, Lucio and Robinho
Many of Brazil’s players are so popular that they’re known by single names. When Kaka’s name is mentioned, it’s usually accompanied by the phrase, “best in the world.” At 90 percent health, he’s better than the great majority of players in the tournament. His teammates will rely on Kaka to advance play and set up the offense.
If this powerhouse squad has a weakness, it’s their defense, which can drift in the middle at times. Team captain Lucio will have to bring his A game as a central defender, especially when he’s head-to-head against the world’s top strikers.
Robinho’s second season at Manchester City was disappointing (he was injured and missed 12 games). He’ll have to step it up in South Africa if he wants to keep his starting spot. His crosses into the box must be on target, or else coach Dunga will replace him with another superstar.
Key Matchup: Brazil vs. Côte d’Ivoire
Their first real test. Both teams have impressive offensive arsenals, so goals should not be scarce. Expect a little caution at first while they feel each other out before they cut loose and go all out.
Going to go out on a limb here: Brazil won’t advance to the knockout stage. Would that be a shocker? Not so much, and you might agree after reading the profiles of Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown