Dentist by day, football prognosticator by night, our own Dr. Hadi Zogheib is scouting out each group at World Cup 2010 and predicting first round scores and standings. In his final scouting report, the good doctor says Spain will reign in Group H:
Spain: On paper, the best team in the tournament. Absolutely no weaknesses to be found in this squad with world class players in almost every position. The biggest problem facing manager Vicente del Bosque is finding the right combination of superstars to truly click. As ususal, the red fury will heavily rely on Xavi and Andreas Iniesta of Barcelona to pull the strings from midfield. David Villa and a newly-fit Fernando Torres can both legitimately claim to have a realistic shot at being the tournament’s top scorer. A 6-0 thrashing of Poland in their final warm up game only cements their status as favourites.
Switzerland: One of the unsung European teams, the Swiss are always a handful, even though their star power is limited. Tranquillo Barnetta of Bayer Leverkusen will carry the load in midfield, while Alexander Frei of FC Basel will hope to add to his already impressive 40 national team goals. The Swiss will no doubt be shooting for second place in this group.
Honduras: The third place team in CONCACAF, the Hondurans qualified for the finals at the expense of Costa Rica and, of course, Canada. The number one factor in their success was an impressive home record during qualifying, but South Africa is a long way from Central America and they will be hard pressed to make it out of this group. David Suazo of Genoa and 36 year old Carlos Pavo, who plays in the Honduran league, will be relied upon to pop in a few goals up front, while former TFC boy Amado Guevara wears the captain’s armband.
Chile: Manager Marcelo Bielsa has been here before, having led Argentina to the 2002 World cup. He will be hoping for a better tournament this time around as Chile manager, and he could not have asked for a better start, leading his unfancied team to second in South American qualifying behind only mighty Brazil. Often playing with three defenders, Bielsa’s team will hope to run-and-gun their way to second in the group. And, with Humberto Suazo (who led South America with 10 goals in qualifying) and superstar in the making Alex Sanchez of Udinese up front, goals seem a certainty.
Spain 2-0 Switzerland
Honduras 2-3 Chile
Chile 2-2 Switzerland
Honduras 1-3 Spain
Spain 2-1 Chile
Switzerland 1-0 Honduras
Spain 9 pts
Chile 4 pts
Switzerland 4 pts
Honduras 0 pts
Related: Dr. Z doubts the host’s chances in Group A, expects Greece’s defence-first philsophy will pay off in Group B, and predicts an opening-round sweep for England in Group C. The good doctor expects a three-way dogfight in Group D and is happy to see the Netherlands healthy in Group E. He isn’t counting out the aging Azzurri in Group F, and is trying to find an arm specialist for Didier Drogba in Group G.