Group G, consisting of Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea, has been widely dubbed by the media as the Group of Death. But after taking a closer look at the teams, it would most likely be a straightforward affair.
North Korea pulled off a surprise during the qualifying stages, edging ahead of teams with better pedigree like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Save for a few members who have played in the Japanese football league, the rest are of unknown quality. They would want to invoke the spirit of the 1966 World Cup where the team beat Italy one nil and reached the quarter finals.
Ivory Coast has a mixture of attacking flair and athleticism, but the main concern is whether talismanic striker Didier Drogba can recover from his arm injury.
The Portugal of today probably plays more like the famed Brazil squad of the 1980s and 1990s than the current set-up. But too much rest on star attacker Cristiano Ronaldos magic feet.
Perhaps for the first time in a World Cup, Brazil is the firm favourite not because of its attacking flair, but due to its highly efficient style of high-speed counter attacks and scoring on set-pieces. This had worked so far for coach Dunga, with the team topping the South American qualifying group and winning the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Ivory Coast and Portugal will be looking to take maximum points and rack up goals off their matches with North Korea, while Brazil might be looking to strike a balance between racking maximum points and not over-exerting its players.
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