When South Africa won the bid to host 2010 world cup, many eyebrows were raised. People  (especially the Europeans) were uncertain about the infrastructure and facilities that need to be provided by “The Rainbow Country”.But the South Africans showed the world that how much love the African continent has for “The Beautiful Game” by completing the herculean task of building stadiums and other infrastructure in the stipulated time line.Although everyone in Africa is very optimistic about their Teams’ chances, this tournament could be a harsh “Reality Check” for the African teams.

Whenever we talk of football world cup, one name immediately comes to the mind..well, no prizes for guessing …its Brazil. They always enter any competition as the stark favourites. They have always shown their pedigree at the World cups,no wonder they have won the trophy most number of times. But, this time around their ride won’t be as easy as compared to their previous campaigns. Though they have some of the best players in the world in Kaka,Pato and Robinho, they lack experience which is so crucial at this level.But I won’t be surprised at all, if we see Lucio lifting the cup on July 11th, 2010

Brazil’s South American counterparts, Argentina will also be one of the contenders for this year. Their qualification campaign was extremely sluggish to say the least. Somehow Diego Maradona’s men made it through to the last 32. Yes,there are serious doubts about his coaching abilities, but one thing we should remember that he is a seasoned campaigner of four world cups and we should not underestimate him. Also they have probably the BEST attacking force at this world cup, with the likes of  “Numero Uno” Lionnel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuan,Diego Milito,Sergio Aguero in their ranks. But they have some real concerns in  brittle defence and average midfield. Expect very entertaining games and lot of goals from Argentina.

One thing which  really astonishes is how Germans perform so well at the World Cups. No matter whichever team they put up , it has discipline,dedication and organization running in their veins. Though historically their players have not been blessed with as much skills as say Brazilians or Argentinians have, their tremendous team spirit always takes them through. The secret behind this could be the charismatic  leaders that they produce decade after decade, be it Franz Beckenbauer,be it Lothar Matthaeus, be it Jurgen Klismann,be it Oliver Kahn,they always have someone who has the presence similar to that of an Army General. But unfortunately this is exactly that they will be missing this time around with talismanic Michael Ballack out injured. But there wont be any respite for the teams facing  the “Mannschaft”. Under the management of Joachim Loew, they have opted to play a high tempo game,which is difficult to cope with for most of the teams. They have some of the best young talent in the world with Lucas Podolski,Thomas Muller,Mario Gomez. It will take “some” doing to get past this stubborn team.

How Italy managed to win four world cups so far,without being favourites for none of them, is surely beyond most of us.In most of the matches,performance wise they tend to be second best, but result wise they end up being the best.This has much to do with their playing style which is based on the strong defence. But one thing we should note that their “Brand of Football” though very pragmatic, is very effective and designed with only one thing in mind, “We will not lose”. But this makes them probably the “Most Boring team” to watch.Though they do not have many charismatic players in their ranks, the  World Cup holders boast a team of seasoned professionals like Gianluigi Buffon,Andrea Pirlo,Fabio Cannavaro,Gianluca Zambrotta,Gennaro Gattuso who know how to win matches at this highest level. Also they have most of the players from 2006 campaign still in their team with the manager Marcello Lippi still at the helm. “Azzurries” would again be very hard to beat.