Friday 11th June
Group A :
South Africa V Mexico
Verdict : Draw (9/4)
The intriguing opening game sees two well matched sides face off in what promises to be an entertaining opening game. Despite being on home soil, South Africa are an outside bet at 15/8 with Bet365, Mexico 6/4. However more tempting is the 9/4 on offer for the draw.
Group A :
France V Uruguay
Verdict : Uruguay Win (3/1)
Finalists last time around, but France are in turmoil, beaten by China last week, lacking a Zidane figure, Henry out of sort, Ribery with off the field problems and an uninspiring manager set to leave after the finals, Uruguay (3/1 Betfair), with their free scoring attacking duo of Forlan and Suarez, could provide the first real shock of the competition.
Saturday 12th June
Group B South Korea V Greece Verdict : Draw (2/1)
The hard working South Korean’s will be boosted by Park Ji Sung’s return to fitness, but this is a game that neither side, given their other group opponents, can afford to lose. Neither team scores many goals and this looks likely to be the first 0-0 draw of the competition in my view.
Group B Argentina V Nigeria Verdict : Argentina Win (1/2)
Nigeria are a decent side, physically strong and have a decent record against Argentina, but it is hard to go against Diego Maradona’s Messi inspired men. I think it will be closer than the 1/2 on offer from many bookmakers suggest, but Argentina should get off to a winning start.
Group C England V United States Verdict : England Win (8/15)
England have won, but looked far from convincing at times during their warm up games. The US will be well organised and have a good understanding of the English team. It will be a tough opener for both sides, but England should just edge the victory against the hardworking Americans.
Sunday 13th June
Group C Algeria V Slovenia Verdict : Draw (9/4)
Slovenia are the 5/4 favourites for this one with most bookmakers, Algeria 23/10, but this is a game which could surprise a few. Algeria, despite having a reputation as one of the weaker sides from Africa, have proven World Cup pedigree and a few talented individuals. This one will be a close call.
Group D Serbia V Ghana Verdict : Serbia Win (6/5)
Ghana, minus Mikael Essien, will be pacy and direct and cause Serbia a few problems, but this is a Serbia side that has some fantastic players and who should be physically far too strong against a weakened Ghanaian team. This should be a comfortable win for the European side.
Group D Germany V Australia Verdict : Australia Win (7/1)
No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. I don’t believe this is a particularly strong German team and it has been weakened still further by injuries to key players. Australia have the happy knack of upsetting the big teams with the likes of Tim Cahill (pictured) and Harry Kewell inspiring the team and I can see the Socceroo’s causing a huge upset with a single goal win.
Join us again shortly for the next article when we look at the games from Monday 14th June, through to the final game of the opening fixtures, Spain V Switzerland on Wednesaday!