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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off Friday


The world’s largest sporting event will be held on African soil for the first time, and it will likely be a momentous spectacle.

On Friday, the 2010 World Cup will kick off in South Africa. On Saturday, USA plays its first game against England at 12:30 p.m. on ABC.

The 32-team field is broken down into eight groups of four.  These teams range worldwide from New Zealand to Honduras.

Europe leads the way with 13 participants, while the host continent, Africa, has six participants.  South America and Asia have five countries competing. The final three countries represent North America.

There are many positive factors about this tournament being held in South Africa, but some questions remain unanswered.

“[It’s] curious from a political and security standpoint,” said University of Alabama women’s soccer coach Todd Bramble. “Do they have the infrastructure to handle safety concerns such as terrorism?”

Brazil and Spain, two of the most prolific soccer teams, are heavy favorites to win the 2010 World Cup. Bramble also picked another favorite.

“Behind those two, Argentina,” Bramble said. “They have the best player in the world in Leo Messi, but can the much maligned Diego Maradona pull it off?”

The United States will come into the tournament with what’s likely to be its strongest squad ever. This, along with being drawn in a relatively easy group, gives the Americans hope.

“Tim Howard will be a big key,” Bramble said. “With a banged-up backline for the U.S., the goalkeeper will have to come up big.  I think they will get out of the group, but probably no further.”

“We have a great chance to get through the group,” said Korey Donahoo, the president of American Outlaws, an unofficial support group for the U.S. men’s team. “Our likely opponent in the round of 16 would be Germany, and they have a lot of question marks right now.”

There are many balanced groups in this year’s field.  Given that, there will be many huge group games that will determine who moves on.

Bramble said he is most looking forward to the Brazil and Portugal game.

“[It] should be a very open, attacking match,” he said.

World-class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi are well known for their illustrious young club careers, but the jury is still out on their international performances for Portugal and Argentina respectively.

“This is the knock on Messi,” said Bramble. “He tears it up for club team Barcelona but has yet to translate this form for the Argentinean side.”

In the 2010 World Cup, there are many established players around the world and also some lesser-known stars who will take the big stage for the first time.

Bramble believes Holland’s Wesley Sneijder and Argentina’s Diego Milito will have big tournaments.

“They both had great club seasons for Champions League winner Inernazionale and will be hot coming into South Africa,” he said.

The winner of this tournament will play a total of seven games.  Certain players have raised cold weather and altitude concerns in South Africa.

Bramble doesn’t think those factors should be a concern.

“Medical technology and training methods are so sophisticated that it shouldn’t have a long-term effect on the players,” he said.

Another issue of concern is this year’s style of soccer ball.  It seems to have a violent swerve, along with exceptional velocity.

“[It] could favor more skillful players and teams,” said Bramble. “Very few teams have the ability to attack through the middle. Teams that rely on crosses will have a tougher time getting goals at the tournament.”

Bramble went with the consensus in predicting the outcome of the tournament, choosing Spain over Brazil in the final.

“Spain plays as more of a team,” he said. “They have six or seven guys who play on the same club for the Catalan side Barcelona.  They play with brilliant rhythm and cohesiveness, but the fact that Spain has never won it before is concerning.”

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