New Media Assistant and former Panther soccer standout Chris Lins checks in with his latest thoughts on the World Cup
The one game I was really looking forward to in the second set of games was Brazil vs. Ivory Coast and it was well worth the wait. Brazil looked good, not great, but good. I think they've improved since their opener against N. Korea and are on pace to peak & play their best soccer during the knock out stages. I stand by my pre-tournament prediction and can say that Brazil will win their 6th World Cup!
Two games out of a guaranteed three; Italy, France and England have failed to impress. Current Cup holders Italy have been the most disappointing team for me. They haven't been able to get a win yet and with their final game against an unpredictable Slovakian team, it will be very interesting to see the result.
Where do I even begin with France? Aside from the recent release of forward Nicolas Anelka and the team protesting to get him back, France has yet to find the back of the net! Just like in 2002, France failed to score and ended up on the first flight back home. I will be very surprised if France advances to the second round. It's possible, but a lot things have to happen and France needs a favorable result against the host nation South Africa in their final group game. Probably not going to happen.
With all the hype of Wayne Rooney and how solid this English side is, it's been all talk with nothing to show for it. They are currently sitting third in Group C and are set to play against group leaders Slovenia. England must win and have Algeria beat the U.S. for any chance of advancing. I really do think it's too late for England and the United States along with Slovenia will advance from this group.
Anything can happen in these last group stage games, and it usually does. This is where it gets really exciting and interesting. Can't wait!