Group E (Switzerland - Ecuador - France - Honduras)
This group is probably one of the less competitive ones from this year’s competition. France and Switzerland are clearly favourites to walk through to the next stage and they should not face any major trouble against a slightly inconsistent Ecuador side and against Honduras’ fragile defensive line. Switzerland are a fantastic team that managed to win their qualifying group without suffering a single defeat and by only conceding 6 goals in 10 matches. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s boys are firm favourites to win the group, even against a French side that only managed to grant their ticket to Brazil thanks to two playoff matches against Ukraine.
As for Ecuador, they might have a word to say if they manage to put up some similar performances to the one they created against Holland on a friendly match at Amsterdam last weekend.
Honduras are by far the “weakest” link in the group, and although they have some interesting and quality players such as Espinoza, Jerry Bengtson, and Carlo Costly, they should not be able to pose any major threat both to Switzerland nor France.
Group F (Argentina - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Iran - Nigeria)
The former World champions Argentina are firm favourites to win group F as neither of their opponents should have what is needed to disturb their dominance. Alejandro Sabella’s side was only defeat twice at CONMEBOL qualifying stage and although they don’t look quite as dangerous as on other occasions, they are strong candidates to reach at least the semi-finals of the competition.
As for Bosnia, this be their debut on World Cup tournaments and they look quite motivated for it after winning their respective group during the UEFA group stage with just only one defeat. The Balkan team will certainly rely on the talent of Miralem Pjanic, Edin Dzeko and Haris Medunjanin to try and grant a place at the next stage of the competition.
The others teams of the group, Iran and Nigeria, might in fact have a word to say in terms of offering Bosnia some competition for the second place of the group, especially the African team that has plenty of experience in World Cup tournaments.
As for Iran, they probably are the weakest team of the group and will certainly rely on the experience of their manager, Carlos Queiroz, to take something positive out of the tournament.
Group G (Germany - Portugal - Ghana - USA)
This group will certainly be a close one, although Germany are firm favourites to win. The Germans made an almost flawless campaign at their UEFA qualifying round obtaining, 9 wins and conceding only one draw against a mighty Swedish side at Berlin.
Portugal, on the other hand, experienced some unexpected difficulties on a group won by Russia, which forced the Portuguese team to measure forces with Sweden on a two-match playoff, solved by the inspiration of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored four goals against the Scandinavian side. The Portuguese side will need to apply some of the energy and will they displayed on both these matches against Sweden if they want to pass to the next round of the tournament.
As for Ghana, this will be the third consecutive World Cup they will be taking part in and after the seventh place they obtained at South Africa, the Black Stars will certainly try to go even further this time.
The new US team, led by former German sharpshooter Jurgen Klinsmann, are also strong contenders to grab a place alongside Germany on the next stage of the competition. The Yanks are now a far more consistent and dangerous side than they were four years ago.
Group H (Belgium - Algeria - Russia - Korea Republic)
The last group might also prove an interesting one because of the mixture of different game styles from the teams that compose the lot. Belgium and Russia are, nevertheless, the favourites to grab a place at the next stage of the tournament, although the Asian Tigers cannot be automatically ruled out. Korea are always a pragmatic team and no one ever knows for sure what to expect from them, especially after their fantastic display at 2002 World Cup.
Russia have some unfinished business with Belgium, since the Diable Rouges eliminated the former USSR back in Mexico 86 and ripped all of Russia’s hopes of qualifying to the next round in the 2002 World Cup.
As for Algeria, this will be the fourth time the African side attends a World Cup and because of the quality of their current team, they might have the chance of becoming the underdogs of this group.