FIFA World Cup 2010 – Group-B Preview

The clear leaders of Group B are Argentina, twice winners of the World Cup in 1978 and 1986. The best challenge could come from Nigeria. Greece have become lacklustre since their shock Euro 2004 win; they are, in fact, lucky to have qualified for this World Cup, given their struggle in the qualifiers.

S.Korea, arguably the best among the three Asian teams at FIFA 2010, complete the group. Argentina have met and beaten all the other three at previous World Cups, the Koreans in 1986, the Greeks in 1994, and the Nigerians in 1994 and 2002.

The fact that they have been to a semi-final in 2002 gives South Korea a psychological edge over Nigeria and Greece, for what it’s worth. We can expect some fleet footed counter attacks from the Koreans. They are fast, if nothing else.

Nigeria, however, have had some fighting encounters with the South American giants, in the past. Confederation Cup 1995 saw a goalless draw; Olympics 1996 and 2008, Argentina barely scraped past the African team, 3-2 and 1-0.

Two draws between Nigeria and S.Korea in 2006-2007 friendlies leaves unanswered the question as to who are the better outfit, of the two.

Nigeria could see some support from the crowds as a kind of African solidarity.

Nigeria have met Greece twice, winning by an identical 2-0 margin on both occasions, the first at the 1994 World Cup, the next in a friendly, in 1999. Greece have disappointed as a team after they won Euro 2004.

Contrastingly, the Koreans have had a better showing against the Africans, winning 2 of the 3 friendlies the teams played between 1983 and 2001.

This is an interesting group, as it is hard to predict the second team, apart from Argentina, that’s likely to go through to the round of 16. On paper, at least, Nigeria look the likeliest, with the remote possibility of an improved showing by Greece.

The Argentina matches are likely to attract crowds who’ll throng to see their goal-happy forward line led by Messi. The group is likely to provide Argentina a great opportunity to showboat their attacking skills. Maradona has decided on an all-out attack strategy, with no Plan B to fall back on.

So if nothing else, expect lots of goals and some dazzling football from the Argentine forward line against defences that are not quite top-notch enough to keep them in check.

Amelia J. Bell

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