World Cup First Look – No-Hopers

For this last of three days of World Cup previews we’re going to look at high profile teams that I’m just not buying into. Some people might argue that these teams could surprise us all and win the tournament, but I think they just have too many flaws – some of them fatal – to pull of the win.

France (16/1)
– They are at this price because of past success, but they absolutely don’t deserve it. They only barely qualified for the tournament at all, and looked absolutely awful throughout the whole qualification process. They can’t score, their best player, Thierry Henry, isn’t as young as he used to be, and the team seems to be in disarray. They will probably get through to the second round, but I’ll be quite surprised if they win a game beyond that. This team needs an overhaul in a big way, and a poor performance here could hasten that inevitability.

USA (50/1)
– I don’t trust a single thing about this team, and I apologize to all you Americans out there. The Confederations Cup is a perfect example of the issues with this team. They looked good beating the Spaniards to get int the finals, then looked like a bunch of toddlers playing against men in the finals against Brazil. This team isn’t talented enough to compete with the best teams, and not tough enough to overcome that lack of talent. They have been a recent disappointment internationally, and I expect them to disappoint again here.

Chile (50/1)
– I’ve seen Chile mentioned as a live longshot in a few places, but I’m just not buying it. This is a team that is on the rise as a soccer country, and their younger players are putting up good results in age-limited tournaments, but this is just too early for them to play with the big boys. They are too young and too inexperienced to make any noise here. They have a very good shot of making the elimination round if they can beat Switzerland in the round robin (and they will likely be favored to do so), but they would need to get extremely lucky with the draw to move beyond that.

Serbia (50/1)
– In their first tournament appearance as an independent country Serbia is getting some real attention as another live longshot. I’m not a believer. Their biggest claim to fame is that they beat France in their qualifying group, but you could argue that France really beat themselves. They have a couple of very good players – Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic is one of the top defenders in Europe – but they just don’t have the depth or the experience to be a serious contender here.

South Africa (100/1)
– I love a great underdog story in sports as much as anyone, but we just aren’t going to see one here. The hosts are getting some respect because they will be playing in front of home crowds. Don’t get sucked in, though – if this team was playing anywhere else than at home then they would be at least 300/1. They are outclassed in this field and absolutely would not be in it if they had had to qualify. They lack the star power to compete, and just plain aren’t good enough. Winning a single game will be a bit of a miracle. This is not a Disney movie in the making.

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