The World’s BIGGEST Sporting Event
After four years and hundreds of games, 32 soccer teams will battle for the championship of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010
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Kaká (Real Madrid, La Liga) Brazil's '10 squad doesn't feature the overwhelming star power of previous sides, but they will still contend in South Africa thanks to the wonderfully skilled player Real Madrid purchased for $95 million last summer.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, La Liga) The diminutive Argentine striker is the latest in the long line of proclaimed successors to Diego Maradona, yet only Messi's living up to the hype. The 22-year-old wunderkind is a virtuoso with the ball at his feet.
Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich, Bundesliga) Flashy and understated at the same time, the Frenchman lives on the wings, waiting for the perfect time to strike. When he does, watch out.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, La Liga) Portugal's driving force would be a star in any sport. Ronaldo possesses a physical prowess matched only by the flair and wizardry he displays when running at a defender.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, English Premier League) Half man, half pit bull, England's wrecking ball of a forward played the best football of his career leading up to the World Cup. The Three Lions need this run of form to continue in South Africa.
Fernando Torres (Liverpool, English Premier League) The midfield makes Spain run, but Torres wields the dagger. He and striker partner David Villa combine to create the world's best duo in front of the net.
Xavi (Barcelona, La Liga) As one of the Spain's center midfielders, the 30-year-old is charged with keeping his side organized and moving forward. He succeeds at this task brilliantly.
This is one of the most equally matched groups, and any of the four teams could advance to the Round of 16. France, winners of the '98 World Cup, will ride winger Franck Ribéry as Les Bleus go through. New manger Javier Aguirre helped Mexico find their form in the late stages of qualifying so expect them to move on as well.
Legend Diego Maradona helms Argentina and although few believe he can be an effective coach, the South American side possesses too much talent to fall in the first round. Second place is up for grabs, but the Super Eagles of Nigeria will slip past Greece's defensive wall and '02 semifinalist, Korea Republic.
The world expects England and the U.S. to advance with ease. Both will, but the task is more difficult than those unfamiliar with Algeria and Slovenia (read: virtually everyone) anticipate. The latter two squads don't boast the household names of the Americans or the Three Lions, but they battled through tremendously difficult circumstances to qualify and have earned their spot in the final 32.
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