So the World Cup is now a week old, every team has played at least once. It is now becoming clear whether your team was a sound bet or as dodgy as a Northern Rock balance sheet.
There have already been a few surprises, and those following a minnow may have had a nice surprise. Also those struggling can cling to a few strands of hope as no team has been eliminated thus far.
If like me you have a team you know little about in the office sweepstake, or you have just not bothered with the World Cup so far, I have created a quick summary to get you up to speed.
How is your team doing?
Algeria – A poor start against Slovenia and elimination beckons, unless they pull of a surprise against England. Should Algeria qualify and you live in England you may be forced to change your name, address and seek alternative employment.
Argentina – In Messi you should trust, Argentina recorded one of the most crushing one nil victories you will ever see, in the first game and eventually ran out comfortable winners agains South Korea. Blue and white fireworks will surely illuminate this tournament sooner rather than later.
Australia – Hammered by Germany and unlikely to progress, the players should start booking their plane tickets home.
Brazil – Although they made heavy work of the North Koreans, I would still be happy to have backed Brazil in this tournament. The quality is there for all to see.
Cameroon – Having lost their opening game, there is a lot left to do if Cameroon are to qualify, hope is not yet lost but I would not back my sweepstake team.
Chile – An opening game victory, playing attacking football, what more can you ask for?
Denmark – Lost to Holland but not out of it yet, Nicklas Bentdner and others will need to be at the top of their game for the next two games though.
England – If you don’t know how they are doing, just google ‘Robert Green’ and all will become clear.
France– Started with a draw and this side looks weary, improvement needed from a side that looks devoid of ideas.
Germany – Emphatic win against Australia, people are already taking notice of the Germans in this tournament.
Ghana – Flying the flag for Africa with an opening game win, this side will receive a lot of coverage in a tournament desperate for African success.
Greece – Poor and uninspired, if they cannot improve they will soon be back to the economic turmoil of their homeland.
Holland– Won their first game, should progress from their group with ease.
Honduras – Lost to Chile, things are already looking bleak for one of the teams no one really knows/expects anything from in this tournament.
Italy – Had a poor first game which was the ultimate defence vs. defence battle that somehow produced two goals. After 2006 you should resist the urge to rule out these ageing slow starters.
Ivory Coast – After a battling draw against Portugal, Sven’s men need a big win against North Korea, or a miracle against Brazil to progress.
Japan – Secured victory in their opening game, they will be hoping to build on this as expectations back home grow.
Mexico– Only a draw to start the tournament off, massive improvements will be needed in order to prove they can make a mark on this tournament.
New Zealand– The point they got in their opening game was hailed as a miracle for New Zealand, read into that what you like given the opposition was Slovakia.
Nigeria – Massacred in a 1-0 defeat to Argentina, they will be ok if their goalkeeper keeps up the form he showed in that game.
North Korea– Fantastic start, strong favourites to win the tournament, well back home at least. In all seriousness the Koreans showed real passion against Brazil and even got a consolation goal. Unlikely to progress but their compact style may harm the chances of one of the other ‘top’ sides in the group.
Paraguay – Secured a great result against the holders, but may need to play with more attacking intent to progress.
Portugal– Things just don’t seem right in the Portugal camp, a draw in the opening game is ok, however much more is needed. Only so much can be done as a one man team.
Serbia – Having lost their opening game, the Serbians look to be limping out of the tournament; however there is talent in this side. This will need to shine through if they are to reach the second round.
Slovakia – Having failed to beat the worst team in the competition in their first game, I think the Slovakians are finished in the tournament before it has really begun.
Slovenia – Top of England’s group with a win, Slovenia have a real chance to upset the apple cart and qualify ahead of the USA or England in group C.
South Africa – Full of heart and with their nation behind them, it looks like this will not be enough to help Bafana Bafana progress. Two gutsy displays have not made up for a lack of discernable talent, only a win against France and a miracle will see them through to the next stage.
South Korea – After winning their first game in an impressive fashion, the Koreans will dream of a repeat of 2002 or even better. Combining a strong work ethic with touches of flair. Despite losing to Argentina, this team has the potential to have a stellar World Cup.
Spain – The favourites lost their opening match to Switzerland, potentially setting up a second round tie with Brazil. Still not out of the running, their Rolls Royce midfield engine needs to start ticking over, and fast.
Switzerland – After beating Spain this team must feel on top of the world, the second round may be their target, but they have certainly already made their mark on the competition.
United States– Brilliant result if not performance against England, confidence must be at an all time high. Slovenia must not be underestimated though and Friday’s game will be key to their campaign.
Uruguay – Almost through to the next round, they looked good against France and South Africa. Manchester United fans may not recognise the Diego Forlan of this World Cup compared to his days in England as he fires Uruguay forwards in the competition.
So this is where we stand after one week, in the next few days the group pictures will become a lot clearer and we may start to lose teams.
If you have backed Brazil or Germany you should be very happy with your investment, those following Slovenia, Switzerland, Chile or Uruguay may have been pleasantly surprised by last weeks games.
As we move forwards every team still technically in with a shout, each team is now just 6 games from immortality.
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