Group A: South Africa, Uruguay, Mexico, France.
At first glance, this might appear a formidable group. But appearances can be deceiving.
Host countries generally do well; at least, for as long as I can remember, they've advanced to the second round. Even the USA in 1994 edged past Colombia and Switzerland to make it to further play.
But this South Africa team... yeah, not so great. This could be the first host country to get stuck in Round One in a long while.
What about Uruguay? A typically very solid South American team, from all indications. Yet I just can't see them doing much. I think the second round would be a real surprise for them, and nothing beyond that.
Then come the two big boys of the group: Mexico and France.
And yet, neither of them has quite been all it was expected to be, this time around.
Mexico has always been one of those teams that looks great on paper and during play, but then somehow finds a way to lose in the second round-- if they even make it out of the first. Even the USA took them down in second round play in 2002. And this was a Mexico squad that actually struggled early on to even qualify--from CONCACAF! Not exactly encouraging me to bet the mortgage payment on them, are these guys from El Tri.
And what can be said about France? The most schizophrenic of the major teams in the world, in recent years. Think about it: 1994-- didn't even qualify for the Cup. 1998-- WON the Cup! (Albeit playing at home.) 2002-- blown out in the first round and sent home without scoring a goal, if I recall correctly. 2006-- narrow loss to Italy in the finals for the Cup!
France does well in the years the USA does poorly, and vice versa.
So, given that formula, we should expect France to collapse and the USA to advance out of its group (Group B-- more on that next time).
One other factor: This France squad only qualified for the competition by the narrowest of margins, squeaking past Scotland on the last day. Confidence level: Not high, as far as I'm concerned.
SO: Predictions for Group A:
Mexico wins the group. France sneaks in as well. Uruguay and South Africa go home. Hey, at least the trip home for South Africa isn't terribly long!
Points prediction: (Top 2 advance)
South Africa 1