ARGENTINA

FIFA Ranking: 7
World Cup Record: 33 – 13 – 19
World Cups: 2 (1978, 1986)

1. Why they can win it

Best case scenario: Planned 3-4-3 formation results in unprecedented goal scoring exploits.

2. Why they can’t

Worst case scenario: Planned 3-4-3 formation results in this.

3. Intriguing bets*

One of Messi (9.00), Higuain (19.00), Aguero (34.00), Milito (34.00), or Tevez (34.00) could be top goal scorer. Of course, only 3 of them can be on the field at the same time. It might not matter.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Hero:
Sergio “Baby Kun” Aguero – playing for lucrative move to Chelsea after they spurned his £200k/week contract demands last year. You’re only ever the next best thing for so long. On top of that his future father in law (and grandfather to his boy Benjamin) is the one calling the shots. What more motivation could a guy need.

Villain:
Messi – carrying the weight of a thousand gauchos on his shoulders, the only way to go is down. Surely.

5. Crackerjack

Eva Peron aka ‘Evita’, died at age 33, the same age as Jesus.

NIGERIA

FIFA Ranking: 21
World Cup Record: 4 – 1 – 6
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

Most populous country in Africa and home to the most creative emails scams:

“Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I get your contact from the International web site directory. I prayed over it and selected your name among other names due to it’s esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person I can do business with and by the recommendations I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business.”

2. Why they can’t

Inspirational captain John Obe Won Mikel will miss the tournament. In an unrelated story Greek economic crisis means trouble for his black market (pun intended) cd selling friends in Athens.

3. Intriguing bets*

A great friend once said, “If something seems improbable, its probably not possible”. Spurn the “value” and back them at 1.12 to NOT win the group. Then thank us later.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Hero: Yakubu Aiyegbeni. His nickname is “The Yak”.

Nuff’ said.

5. Crackerjack

Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world, compared to any other country. Too bad there is only one John Obe Won.

SOUTH KOREA

FIFA Ranking: 47
World Cup Record: 4 – 7 – 13
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

North Korea. What better chance to show that cosying up to America and embracing the decadence of free markets over poverty and destitution is the way forward.

2. Why they can’t

The Shadow Of Guus (T-SOG).

Following their improbable run to fourth place in 2002, Guus Hiddink was made the first foreigner to be awarded honorary citizenship, in addition to being granted free flights for life with Korean Air and a villa on Jeju island. The adoration extends to frequent visits of Guus’s museum in the Netherlands (affectionately dubbed a Guuseum), and prompted Guus to comment recently that he had “no magic power but hard training and perseverance”.

He also advised South Koreans to get out of the obsession with the 2002 saga, “Every team has ups and downs”.

“Hiddink’s role as a foreigner and national Korean hero presents a unique and unprecedented case study of the relationship between globalization, nationalism, and neoliberal citizenship.”

Honestly, they need to let it go. Like, eight years ago.

3. Intriguing bets*

Better chance of nuclear holocaust on the Korean peninsula than this team escaping the group stage. T-SOG is a bitch, just ask the Socceroos’s in four weeks.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Guus, watching from the sidelines for the first time in eons, waltzes in and saves the day. Sure.

5. Crackerjack

In terms of religiosity, some 46.5% of Koreans list “no religion” or atheism as their religious preference (Buddhism is second on 22.8% and Guus Hiddink third on 12.1%).

GREECE

FIFA Ranking: 13
World Cup Record: 0 – 0 – 3
World Cups: 0

1. Why they can win it

Smells like team spirit. For the country that wrote the book on freedom and the rights of the individual, the results have generally been spectacular when they somehow come together.

2. Why they can’t

Sounds obvious, but corruption is just that much harder when you’ve got no steaks in the freezer. It had to be said.

3. Intriguing bets*

Gekas for top goal scorer (101.00). Quietly ended up with the Golden Boot during the European qualifiers (10 goals in 8 games for those scoring at home). Warrants mentioning that Rooney was second, on 9, and new Barca super-signing David Villa 5th, on 7. We’re just saying. Now all Gekas needs is for Greece to make it out of the first round.

4. Potential heroes or villains

Potential Hero: Ninis – Only the most important 20 year old in World Sport. If you care about anything, care about that.

Potential Villain No. 1: Sotiris Kyriagkos. Call it a hunch but just he seems to have the stink of Liverpool on him at the moment. Being the best player on a god-awful team is not world cup winning form, we don’t care who you are. And while we’re here would it kill Liverpool to win a Premier League trophy? As in, even if it was just once? The worlds most intolerable supporters would some how be more sufferable if they could at least lean on something from the modern era. Just a thought. But we digress.

Potential Villain No. 2: King “Otto” – his steadfast loyalty to the players who didn’t let him down in 2004 (yes Charisteas, we’re talking about you) has meant he will forever be tied to the same players who let him down in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Hey Otto, embrace the future, embrace life.

Embrace the fact that Robert De Niro will be playing you if Greece lifts the cup and Walt Disney makes a movie about it (not as far fetched as it might sound).

5. Crackerjack

Before Euro 2004, Greece had never scored a goal in a major tournament. Impossible is nothing.

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