World Cup 2010: Know Your Rivals - Group G Predictions

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In this special series we bring you the local knowledge of the world's leading football tournament. With our worldwide team of experts, each one based in the country in question - from Brazil to North Korea - you'll hear first-hand the latest team news, exclusive interviews, and fan opinions of your World Cup opponents.

Stay on Goal.com  for all the World Cup build-up from right across the world, starting with predictions of all eight groups from the local experts...


GROUP G

How do the experts of Group G think that the group will go? Here we ask our local experts for their thoughts on their teams' three games, in order of play.

Brazil
With Andre Baibich

Brazil 1-0 North Korea

Facing teams that just stay on the backfoot and defend is not really Brazil's favourite thing. The Brazilians are much better than their opponents, but I think they'll have a hard time breaking through the opponent's defensive block. In the end, a weak performance and a slim victory.

Brazil 2-2 Ivory Coast

Tough match for Brazil, as I think the Ivorians will probably be fighting to get through to the next round. This should be a really fun match for the neutrals, with both teams seeking to score and playing offensive football.

Brazil 3-0 Portugal


Here is where I think Brazil will have it's most impressive performance of the group stage. Dunga's men have shown that they rise to the occasion and play better against the best teams. If you add the fact that Portugal will probably attack and leave spaces for Brazil's deadly counter, you see that the Brazilian team has a good chance of getting a convincing win.


Portugal
With Luis Mira

Portugal 2-1 Ivory Coast

This is a game that we have to win. You expect that all will beat North Korea meaning that if we win this match, we put ourselves in a very strong position. Fortunately for us I think, Ivory Coast will feel the same and the game will be open. We should be able to take control of midfield and cut the supply to Drogba while grabbing a couple of goals against a defence that is a little vulnerable. The key in this match is maintaining possession.

Portugal 1-0 North Korea


We will win this but it will be a tough match. We struggle at times against defensive teams and we know that North Korea will defend and will not stop running. It will probably take something like a piece of Ronaldo magic to decide this. There will be no revenge for 1966, although we wish we had someone like the legendary Eusebio!

Brazil 1–1 Portugal

The 6-2 defeat still hurts but we’ll settle for a point against the number one team in the world. It won’t be as open as the last time, Portugal will be cautious about conceding too many goals. This game may be a disappointment for the neutrals, but we will be happy with a point that will put us in sight of the last 16.


Ivory Coast
With Kingsley Kobo

Ivory Coast 2-1 Portugal


This will be Ivory Coast’s first match and the deciding game, whether the Elephants move forward or drop out of the tournament.

On the balance, the Selecçao das Quinas are not too formidable for the Elephants, but the all-time complex problem against big teams might affect the West African side here.

Although Portugal is yet to win a major football tournament, they have qualified four times for the FIFA World Cup: semi-finalist at the 1966 World Cup, finished 4th at the 2006 World Cup; and were finalist at the UEFA Euro 2004; thus a non-negligible rival.

The Elephants, with a new crop of terrifying players, are yet to impose
their grandeur on the African continent not to mention at world level. African teams like Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt and Nigeria, still invoke nightmares for the Elephants. Imagine a team with Cristiano Ronaldo?

Talking about Ronaldo brings another weakness of the Ivorian team to mind – goalkeeper! Can Belgium’s one-time goalkeeper of the year, Kopa Barry withstand Ronaldo’s bullet shots and free kick missiles?
Worsening the situation, Kopa underwent a knee surgery recently, which could hamper his performance at the forthcoming African Cup of Nations.

Ivory Coast 0-2 Brazil

If you go by the gossips on the streets of Abidjan, the analyses of the local media and some leaked whispers from the Elephants camp, there’s practically nothing to say about this match. Everybody seems to be reconciling themselves with a Brazil’s wallop in sight, and so, the mathematics of a possible qualification to the second round is being done with only North Korea and Portugal.

But, I do not believe that world football analysts who have deemed Group G as the “Group of Death” did so because of the presence of Brazil and Portugal alone. Ivory Coast is amongst the dreadful sides.
Back home, do these boys know that their world rating is high? If they know, are they really preparing to live up to expectation? Have they learnt their lessons of the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana, where they disappointed all who swore they would lift the cup?

Well, Ivory Coast will be able to play Brazil, even at loss, Drogba and his team mates will be able to frighten the Canarinhos to some extent, if skill and daring sway in the same rhythm that evening. I predict a 2-0 win for Brazil.

Ivory Coast 3-1 North Korea

This is the game on which many hopes around the Ivory Coast hang. North Korea, although a 1966 World Cup quarter-finalist, have not been awesome in recent years unlike their neighbour South Korea. I think the Ivory Coast could pick three points here. However, like most Asian teams, North Korea play with plenty of stamina and clever rapidity, which could create problems for the Ivorian lumpish defence.

Secondly, most of the North Korean players are unknown to the Ivorian technical team, which could make preparations ineffective. I hear FIF (Ivorian football federation) has requested for match videos of the Chollimas from diplomatic sources and Ivorians living in North Korea.
But North Korea’s last month’s 4-1 defeat to Zambia in Lusaka comforts the Elephants who regard the Chipolopolo as lilliputian. Mind you, friendly and official matches exude different match spirit.


North Korea
With An Yong Hak

North Korea 0-3 Brazil 

Our first opponent is Brazil. The five times World Cup winner is definitely one of the world's best football teams. Also, they have so many star players. Players such as Kaka, Robinho and Maicon are the best in their position.

North Korea 1-1 Portugal


Then comes Portugal. This team is also full of famous footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo and Deco. Especially, Ronaldo is one of the best players in the world at the moment. I know that Portugal play quick football which takes advantage of Ronaldo's amazing pace.

Of course, there is World Cup history between us. Several times, I have watched the documentary film of the 1966 World Cup game, when North Korea reached the quarter finals.

At that time, North Korea, led by  Pak Doo-Ik, was defeated 5-3 by Portugal and failed to protect a 3-0 lead from the first half. I hope we can exact vengeance on Portugal on behalf of our predecessors. 

North Korea 0-0 Ivory Coast


Our final opponent is Ivory Coast. This team has many powerful and physically fine players such as Didier Drogba. It also looks difficult for us because our players are smaller physically.

But we have our own strength. First of all, we are the hardest-working team in the group. Moreover, our players are bonded to each other like a family because we have played together for such a long time.