Group Members: Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea
When I was first assigned this group for the World Cup by my illustrious editing team, my first thought was, “Fuck, do I really have to watch South Korea play three fucking times?” After the premature thoughts of despair, I finally realized that I was also given the assignment, nigh the privilege, of watching arguably the greatest footballer of a generation in Lionel Messi. This “Little Man” will without a doubt be the best player in Group B.
When looking at the Group from top to bottom, the first important realization is that it is not the most competitive group in the World Cup. Argentina is clearly the class of Group B, and should win the group easily. The battle is really for second place. While Argentina is the favorite, each of the teams in the group has the ability to beat each other on any given day. Sure, it may take a dismal performance from one side, with an excellent performance from another, but nothing is outside the realm of possibility. While the Argentineans are poised to make a serious run at the title in South Africa, second place in Group B may be decided by Goal Differential. Let’s take a quick look at each of the four teams in Group B.
As I mentioned previously, the Argentineans are without a doubt the huge favorite to steamroll the competition in Group B. They have, in this bloggers opinion, the greatest player in the world wearing blue and white. While Messi is the biggest name and primary play maker for the squad, you cannot ignore the other world class talents on a team that includes, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, and Maxi Rodriguez, just to name three. Every soccer fan in the world is aware of the team’s struggles during qualifying. However, with such a powerful offensive roster, you have to think that the Argentineans ’will dominate group play, but also having a realistic shot at lifting the trophy. The only thing that could really hold the South American giants from achieving their potential this June is their crazy coach, Diego Maradona. Readers of the site have to let me know, am I the only one who thinks that Maradona is coked out of his mind on the sidelines of each match? He is constantly fidgeting, screaming, and flipping his shit seeming each minute. Each time the camera gets a close up old Diego, I secretly pray a little white patch will be decorating his nose. I am full on rooting for this squad to stand alone in July just to see Maradona run naked through the streets as promised.
What to say about Greece? I clearly do not know where to start. My middle and high school history teachers would want me to say something about the formation of democracy, and the history of great thinkers like Socrates and Plato, but over the last few years, I have drank too much PBR to remember any of that bullshit. We should start with something I know for sure. Back in 2004 the world was shocked when the small Mediterranean nation won the European Championship. Since then, the lamb loving Greeks have really struggled to get their shit together. They barely managed to finish second in one of the weakest UEFA qualifying groups, then it took two consecutive clean sheets against the Ukrainians to book a plane ticket to South Africa. In order for them to have any sort of impact this June, they will need to continue to play the same type of shut down defense. However, with a squad that only contains about five players from their miraculous run in 2004, a first round exit is in the cards for Athens, Sparta, and the rest of the City States.
Just like the two previous teams above, the Nigerians also had some serious struggles during qualifying. Nigeria needed a 3-2 win over Kenya on the last day of African qualifying to earn a spot in the world’s greatest tournament. Unlike most of the African nations we will be watching this June, Nigeria does not play the same speed based, attacking style. The Nigerians have played some very patient and organized football as of late. Their strong performance, and semi-final exit in this year’s African Cup of Nations, shows that the Nigerians have turned a
corner from their qualifying woes. It is also important to recognize that the Nigerians will be playing on their own continent. This should translate to improved support, compared to other nations at the finals. If anyone in Group B has a snowballs chance in hell of putting some pressure on Lionel Messi and his crew, it’s the Super Eagles.
You think I had nowhere to start with Greece, the problem is worse for the South Koreans. Before doing any research for this piece, I was aware of one South Koreans players existence, Park Ji-Sung, Midfielder, Manchester United. He has scored some nice timely goals for the Red Devils over the past few years, but by no means is he a household name. I even asked my South Korean lab partner, and soccer fan, for the inside scoop. All he could offer me was, “I don’t know, I think we will lose.” Very optimistic, sounds like me drinking PBR watching the Bills get their shit pushed in. Regardless of what my South Koreans friend says, there is still some hope. During the last two rounds of qualifying, the South Koreans were never beaten. I know this is not the most difficult region in the world for qualification, but an unbeaten record is a serious accomplishment. It is obvious that they may not have the same level of talent as the Argentineans or even the Nigerians, but a few lucky bounces and solid defense, anything can happen. If the other teams in Group B do not play consistent football, the South Koreans may sneak into the second round.
Match to Watch
Nigeria versus Greece. In my opinion, the winner of this match will be moving on to the knockout stages of the tournament. If this match ends on a draw, the door opens for South Korea to pull off a shocker against the Nigerians during the final game of Group play and move on into the second round.
Match By Match Predictions
2 Argentina vs. 1 Nigeria
1 South Korea vs. 1 Greece
1 Greece vs. 1 Nigeria
3 Argentina vs. 0 South Korea
2 Nigeria vs. 0 South Korea
0 Greece vs. Argentina 0
I think I have made it extremely clear at this point, the Argentineans will dominate group play and easily move onto the next round. I fully expect the battle between Nigeria and Greece to be the match of the group. I have to give the edge to the Nigerians finishing second as they are playing closer to home than any other team in the group. However, don’t sleep on the South Koreans. For more coverage on Group B, check out my post match summaries or each game played.
While this is a Group preview, there is still time for Puck’s free advice. Never travel through Atlanta by plane if you can avoid it. Sorry Neil, but I like this place about as much as Raf likes NYC. It’s crowded; it stinks like shit, I am constantly being harassed by people who can’t speak English trying to sell me credit cards I don’t want, every time the door opens to one of the smoking rooms, toxins billow out infecting anyone in a 100 foot radius, and most importantly there is no free WiFi access for you to read “the greatest blog of our time.”
Time to find a bar and self-medicate in this awful shithole. Sorry for partying.
Puck is the pop culture guru for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at email@example.com.