World Cup Group G Preview, Predictions, Fixtures

Group G Odds: Brazil 1.50; Portugal 3.75; Ivory Coast 6.00; North Korea 51.00.
Group G Schedule: Ivory Coast v Portugal, Port Elizabeth, June 15, 4pm
Brazil v North Korea; Johannesburg; June 15, 8.30pm
Brazil v Ivory Coast, Johannesburg, June 20, 8.30pm
Portugal v North Korea, Cape Town, June 21, 1.30pm
Portugal v Brazil, Durban, June 25, 4pm
North Korea v Ivory Coast, June 25, 4pm
*All times local [ad#as3]

Group G Teams:
Brazil: Daniel Alves; Júlio Baptista; Michel Bastos; Júlio César; Doni; Elano; Lucio; Luís Fabiano; Gilberto; Gomes; Grafite; Josué; Juan; Kaká; Kléberson; Luisão; Maicon; Felipe Melo; Nilmar; Ramires; Robinho; Gilberto Silva; Thiago Silva.

Portugal: Hugo Almeida; Bruno Alves; Beto; Ricardo Carvalho; Fabio Coentrao; Ricardo Costa; Danny; Deco; Eduardo; Daniel Ferandez; Paulo Ferreira; Liedson; Raul Meireles; Pedro Mendes; Pepe; Rolando; Cristiano Ronaldo; Simao Sabrosa; Tiago.

Ivory Coast: Benjamin Angoua; Sol Bamba; Boubacar Barry; Arthur Boka; Guy Demel; Aruna Dindane; Seydou Doumbia; Didier Drogba; Emmanuel Eboue; Yao Kouassi; Gervinho; Steve Gohuri; Jean-Jaques Gosso; Salomon Kalou; Abdulkader Keita; Emmanuel Kone; Romaric; Siaka Tiene; Ismael Tiote; Kolo Toure; Yaya Toure; Daniel Yeboah; Aristide Zogbo; Didier Zokora.

North Korea: An Chol-Hyok; Pak Chol-Jin; Ri Chol-Myong; Mun In-Guk; Cha Jong-Hyok; Ri Jun-Il; Choe Kum-Chol; Kim Kum-Il; Kim Kyong-Il; Ri Kwang-Chon; Ri Kwang-Hyok; Kim Myong-Gil; Ri Myong-Guk; Kim Myong-Won; Pak Nam-Chol; Pak Nam-Chol; Nam Song-Chol; Pak Sung-Hyok; Jong Tae-Se; Hong Yong-Jo; Kim Yong-Jun; Ahn Young-Hak; Ji Yun-Nam.

Group G Predictions:

Peter Howard:
The Group of Death in this World Cup, Group G’s matches are among the most anticipated of the early stages of this tournament. Brazil comes into the tournament favored by many to take home yet another World Cup, and kindly get to ease into this year’s tournament with an opening game against North Korea. The other two nations in this group – Portugal and Ivory Coast – come in with some significant injuries that may well dictate their success in 2010. For Portugal, it’s really a question of which team shows up. The level from Portugal was subpar by its standards, and the loss of Nani will not help. For Ivory Coast, just how much can Drogba contribute in this World Cup? It’ll be a cracker of a match when Ivory Coast battles Portugal, and it will be fantastic theatre for these sides to open against each other. In the end, I think there’s more talent on the pitch for Portugal. If these teams met in the final match of group play, it’d be tempting to give the nod to Ivory Coast, but Ronaldo and the Portuguese will get through along with Brazil.

Alex Michaels: There’s always an air of anticipation whenever Brazil open up their World Cup campaign, and given the way they’ve been banging in the goals recently, we’re in for another show this time around. Robinho in particular has proved since returning to Santos on loan from Manchester City that when he’s in the mood, he’s among the best of them with 14 goals in 18 appearances since January, and he could well be in the running for the Golden Boot. I’m also expecting big things from Portugal, and not just because of Cristiano Ronaldo. They may have struggled in qualifying, but now they’re in South Africa, their experienced players such as Carvalho, Deco, Tiago and Mendes will be relishing this opportunity. In contrast, I’m expecting very little from the Ivory Coast, with or without Drogba. If the tournament wasn’t in Africa, I wouldn’t be giving them a chance, but that ‘home’ support may give them a bit of a boost. Still, as much as I’m a fan of Sven Goran Eriksson, I just can’t see how he will have had enough chance to get to know his team to turn them into world beaters, and there’s already talk of him moving on after the tournament. North Korea may be quick, but I think this will just be a good experience for them, so I’m going for Brazil and Portugal to ease through, with the runners-up in the group likely to face Spain in the second round.

Frank Finnegan: If Group G is not the Group of Death, it is certainly the marquee group of the lot and promises three intriguing contests. Brazil may have relinquished its title as the most entertaining national team in the world to Spain, but this is a tougher, more cohesive squad that will still win this group on maximum points, leaving the hard-luck Ivory Coast and struggling Portugal to fight for 2nd. If not for Drogba’s injury, I’d be 100 percent behind the Elephants (better than in front of them, right?), but even with the injury, I think the find enough inspiration to grab 2nd in the group. North Korea – hope you have fun on your visit, but something tells me you won’t.

Ron Patel: Will Didier Drogba start against Portugal? If not, I can’t see the Ivory Coast getting anything out of the game. And what a big game it is. The loser is mostly gone in the group stage, while a draw wouldn’t be the worst thing. When people think of Portugal, they most often think of Cristiano Ronaldo and his bag of tricks. But Portugal is a compact team that played well defensively in European qualifying. Nani’s loss will be big. He excelled for Manchester United at the end of the season. I sure hope North Korea can win a point somehow, or at least not get blown out. There’s no reason to think Brazil won’t win the group, and my pick is for Portugal to grab second.

Greg Neville: I’m going to enjoy these three blockbusters. Forced to pick Brazil and Ivory Coast advance but either way it’s going to be fun to watch. I picked the Portuguese as my shock early exit … who knows, but they will miss Nani. It’s just a shame one of these sides will be going home early. Drogba is already a hero to his nation but if he leads his side to glory after surgery just a week ago, they may as well appoint him president. Perhaps the North Koreans will make a good show of themselves much like they did 44 years ago (quarterfinalists in their last appearance), perhaps they may even win the World Cup! (Tongue firmly planted into cheek). A nice little edit job – anything is possible! According to reports the Asian country is unlikely to show live broadcasts of its own team because of fears by its authoritarian government that the team will perform poorly.

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