2010 World Cup Preview: Group H

2010 World Cup Preview: Group H

  • Posted by Geoff Reid
  • On June 9, 2010
  • 2010 World Cup, Chile, Geoff Reid, Group H, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland

Can Humberto Suazo lead Chile out of Group H? (AP)

By Geoff Reid

When the draw for the groups were first announced, Group H didn’t raise any eyebrows in-particular and it looked as if European champion Spain would top the group with a three way battle for second place and a shot at the last 16. Six months on, nothing has really changed with the Spanish being favorites to win it all, and three teams, Switzerland, Honduras, and Chile, all having just as good of a chance at progressing as the other.

Spain: No real need to do an introduction to this group. Everyone who follows the game knows their players are some of the best in the world, and what is a scary proposition or everyone else now is that after Spain’s victory is Euro 2008 two years ago, there is no more fear or curse over them. They know how to win and believe in themselves, and rightly so. Gone are the days where the team was divided with players from Catalonia, Madrid, and the Basque country all not getting along. From goalkeeping starting with Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas, arguably the best in the world in his position, right the way through to the forward line of Barcelona’s newest signing David Villa and Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, this is a complete team one through 11. One question is Torres’ fitness after missing the last several games for Liverpool during the season. Even at goalkeeper, if Casillas goes down injured, Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is probably the best reserve goalkeeper in the whole tournament. The one thing the rest of the 31 nations can take hope from is one year ago in the Confederations Cup with the Spanish losing to the USA shows no team is unbeatable.

Switzerland: The Swiss are a confident bunch despite some injuries, poor form from key players and other setbacks. The main problem for manager Ottmar Hitzfeld is that the current generation is getting up there in age, while the youth is still a little too young to throw into the senior squad. Record scorer Alexander Frei is struggling to get fit for the opener against Spain, which will mean former FC Twente and current Seattle Sounders striker Blaise Nkufo will have much of the pressure to score the goals, and that’s not something he’s never had. After all, he captained Twente to their Dutch league title. Sounders fans will look on with keen interest. But the main problem Hitzfeld has very much like a lot teams at this years tournament is a fair amount of his squad are on the rosters of clubs across Europe, but struggle for a decent amount of playing time.

Honduras: Truth be told, I will be rooting for the Hondurans to get out of this group. The battle more then anything else for these guys will be mentally, to avoid being the whipping boys of this year’s tournament. Make no mistake though, this Honduran side has come very talented players that can hurt almost anyone. It’s now normal to see their top players playing in Europe and doing well for themselves such as Wilson Palacios at Tottenham Hotspur, David Suazo at Genoa, and Julio Cesar De Leon at Torino. Lets also not forget Maynor Figueroa scored the goal of the season in England for Wigan Athletic. All MLS fans know how good Amado Guevara can be when he’s in form. It will be a tough task for this side, but don’t think for a second these players will be the whipping boys. They could surprise a few people.

Chile: First time Chile have played in a world cup since France in 1998, so in that reason alone not reaching the last 16 wouldn’t have the average Chilean that disappointed. However, for coach Marcelo Bielsa, the last 16 is a must after the Argentinean manager fell at the first hurdle in the 2002 tournament that had England, Nigeria, and Sweden drawn in the same group. Bielsa has done a tremendous job with this team and has a nation believing again. The players buy into what he’s saying and did amazingly well in South American qualifying. Striker Humberto Suazo was top scorer in qualifying and is the established leader of the Chilean attack. Another potential sleeper in this tournament and could surprise some people.

Prediction: In all certainty, Spain should top this group convincingly, followed by a competitive fight for second place. Switzerland, Honduras and Chile all can finish in second and it’s tough to see who will come out on top. All three sides should show themselves fairly well, but I see Chile joining the Spanish as qualifiers from this group.

Spain 9pts
Chile 6pts
Honduras 3pts
Switzerland 0pts