Soccer

Previews for all eight World Cup groups- Group C

Aside from France, Group C is up in the air.

Welcome to What The Sports’ FIFA World Cup Previews! We are just five days away from the most-watched sporting event in the world, and will countdown to June 14’s opening match with a preview of each group per day.

It’s time for Group C. This cohort includes the perennial underperformers (France), the regulars (Australia), the fundamentals (Peru) and the surprise (Denmark). On paper, the French should advance, with the second spot up in the air between three mediocre teams. While neither of the three have any shot at the whole thing, a fascinating battle may be in order for second place.

France

Another major tournament, another subpar performance, right? Maybe not this year. Besides Germany, France has the deepest squad in Russia. To get an idea of just how good they are, Ousmane Dembele (yes, the fourth most expensive player ever), will probably sit on the bench for Les Bleus. I’d give my right foot for that man to play for England (and it’s a good one, peep below, shoutout Global SC.)

Backheel is ridiculous, I know. Plugs aside, France are set up to win, and as long as they play for each other, they’re a very tough team to bet against.

Who to watch

Paul Pogba

I’m convinced this man would be better if he stopped messing around with his hair. He has spells of anonymity for Manchester United, but when he cares, he’s among the best in the world. Pogba makes the game look simple, combining athleticism and impeccable technique to do things like this:

They win the group if…

They make nice and remain friends. Although it’s been eight years, memories of France’s infamous fallout at the 2010 World Cup lingers. Only one player survives from that squad, so things look good. If the chemistry is there, France will coast through.

Most likely to be meme’d

Olivier Giroud. There are lots of good choices here (and lots of potential for cheese jokes), but Giroud is the most French-looking man ever.

 Arsenal FC v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League

He also did a nude photoshoot, so there’s that. The only way he could be more French is if he were constantly in black and white and smoking cigarettes while drinking black coffee in a Parisian cafe.

Australia

The Aussies are back again, and are still led by old man Tim Cahill. This time, however, they’re boring. In Brazil, they played three at the back, and tried to knock the ball around. They scored goals like this:


… and lost all three games. But they made it look fun.

This time… they’re worse. Rather than being rubbish yet exciting, they’re rubbish and boring. Seriously, they play a slightly-edited 4-4-2 with no real talent or flair. It’s all very English, but worse.

Who to watch

Tim Cahill

Every breath is a cliffhanger for the 38 year old. He’s in the twilight of his career and clubless, yet somehow made the squad. He’s unlikely to see time on the pitch and is there for “intangibles” or whatever. Either way, he’s looking to score at four consecutive World Cups, which would be cool I guess.

They win the group if…

They find a way to put the ball in the net. Yes, the socceroos now play football to the same excitement as paint drying, but it’s fundamentally sound. They’re organized, they communicate and they defend. It’s going forward that they have a problem. With no recognized striker in the squad, it’s tough to see them scoring. If they do, though, they will defend for their lives. Unlikely, but possible.

Most likely to be meme’d

The fans. Picture American soccer fans. Now picture a team worse than the USMNT. Now picture fans that know less about soccer than American soccer fans. Now picture fans that know less about soccer than American fans rooting for a team worse than the USMNT. Miserable, isn’t it?

australia-fans.jpg

Peru

How does the team that qualified last become the consensus dark horse pick, you ask? By being incredibly disciplined and surprisingly talented. The Peruvians haven’t appeared in the World Cup since 1982, and they aren’t here for the banter. In the past year they’ve played Argentina to two draws, and beat Uruguay on the road. Hello boys, we have a team with heart.

Who to watch

Paolo Guerrero

Wow, talk about drama. Guerrero has had a rollercoaster of a year. He was banned by FIFA for a year for testing positive for the same chemical agent found in cocaine. He appealed, saying that he was drinking tea with cocoa leaves. Dubious as it sounds, the courts listened, and Guerrero will be playing for the Peruvians in Russia.

At 34, he’s not a great athlete, nor is he particularly great with his feet. Rather, he’s a classic finisher, and deadly inside the box. He’s not elite, but a reliable striker could be all the Peruvians need.

They win the group if…

The midfield does it’s job. Peru makes up for a lack of playmakers by pressing and creating chances off turnovers. If the midfield can win the ball high up the pitch, Guerrero and co. should have enough opportunities to simply outscore their opponent.

Most likely to be meme’d

Also Paolo Guerrero. Poor taste? Maybe. Realistic? Yep. When you test positive for “not-cocaine”, it’s very difficult to escape the wrath of social media. One absent-minded performance or emotional outburst and the memes begin. *cues Robbie Fowler celebration*

Guerrero

Denmark

The Danes were fun. But, with Nicklas Bendtner on the plane home, they’re less fun. Still, spearheaded by some Premier League talent, they could grab a second place finish. They play with creativity, they play to win and they score goals. They also have enough defense to secure wins against the likes of Australia and Peru. Youth and the fact that this group has very little World Cup experience could be issues, but their style of play makes them, at the very least, a tough out.

Who to watch

Christian Eriksen

It’s easy to say: Denmark will go as far as Eriksen takes them. The Danes play through the Tottenham man, and a hat trick to secure qualification showed that this strategy works. If he’s in form, look for Denmark to make some noise.

Oh yeah, he also did this to Chelsea:

They win the group if…  

They play their own way. World Cup surprises come in many shapes and forms. That’s what make them a surprise. The common ground is that they don’t give up their style. Costa Rica surprised everyone four years ago by playing the game their own way, and refusing to sit back against the big teams. Should Denmark hold onto their “feed Eriksen and counter” style of play, they could finish on top.

Most likely to be meme’d

Nicklas Bendtner. Even from the sidelines, the lord is a walking meme. An Arsenal fan favorite turn internet legend, the striker will be watching from the stands this summer. That doesn’t mean the internet won’t beg him to take the field and score a winning tap in for the Danes.

The Lord.jpg

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