Here at Rogue Couch we do like taking cracks at predicting the future. It amuses us to do so. It releases endorphins (not the sexual kind, if that’s what you’re thinking) that have passed down from our forefather, Nostradamus. In other words, our talents are genetic.

Questions you as a faithful reader and patriot are probably asking. Who will win the group? Hard to predict with 100% accuracy (if we can do just a little better than ALL the economists who missed predicting the GFC – job done) but we will have a red-hot go. Will the Germans regret underestimating Australia? Lets hope so. Will Essien be an unrecoverable loss for Ghana? Probably.

Injuries play important roles in helping to decide WC matches before they even begin, this tournament is no exception (though some of the names have been big ones this time around, which does magnify the volatility associated with predicting). We’ll look back at history and we’ll look to the future and make some predictions.

If nothing else, this will be a clear warning that no one should ever ask us to tip anything again as we will inevitably be wrong (Sun Tzu says something about surprise attacks. While our enemies will read this blog and see how bad we tip, we will sneak in under their defenses and make monetary bets with them, revealing our true affinity for picking “the winner”, relieving these fools of their hard earned monetary burdens). So basically, you’re traipsing a minefield filled with bluffs, double bluffs and no bluffs at all. Enjoy yourself.

Here is quick rundown of the teams…

AUSTRALIA

FIFA Ranking: 20
World Cup Record: 1 – 2 – 4
World Cups: 0

Australia’s third trip to the finals and, without doubt, expectations at home have never been as high (they currently sit 20th on the FIFA World Football rankings). Australia’s first foray onto the brightness of the world stage was in 1974. Not a particularly successful foray, either. Losing to both West and East Germany’s and drawing with Chile to rescue a point in the group. Australia is the only team to lose to two both Germany’s in the World Cup Finals (not a particularly good sign when you’re first opponents are the Germans).

Look, they have beaten Ghana previously and even pushed a German side, not too different from this one (a 4-3 loss in the Confederations Cup before the last World Cup.)

It’s also hard to judge the Aussies on past results. There are results against lower ranked teams where the Socceroos seem to have scraped through (like beating Indonesia 1-0, who sit at 135 in the FIFA rankings) but looking only at results doesn’t tell the full story. There have been many occasions where the full roster is not available to play due to domestic league commitments.

Flipside to that coin is that the performance the Aussie battlers pulled out 4 years ago was quite special. They beat the Japanese, lost to Brazil and held Croatia to a 2 all draw (where a player was shown 3 yellow cards before being sent off… a record of sorts – “the only player to receive 3 yellow cards in a game that wasn’t being ref’d by the Sunday afternoon idiots we still argue with”).

Who will shine for the Aussies?:

Look out for the constant performers. Bresciano, Cahill, Culina, Wilkshire etc. We’re very interested to see Rukavytsa gets some game time. If Kewell and Schwarzer have big games, and that’s a big if, we could see the Aussies do the unthinkable and get to the quarters this year.

Road to Victory:

A world class goal keeper leading from the back might pull together a team that everybody will be underestimating. If they don’t study the Aussies, it will be at their peril.

Road to Ruin:

Inexperience and forgetting it or experience and not forgetting it, get it? It’s hard to see the Aussies winning a World Cup. They may not be gritty enough. They don’t know when to go to ground for that penalty (or the ‘art of elegant diving’, best practiced by C. Ronaldo, sorry, but it is an art). They lack the flair of Brazil, or the technicality of the Dutch.

Prediction:

2nd in group.

GERMANY

FIFA Ranking: 6
World Cup Record: 55 – 19 – 18
World Cups: 3 (1954, 1974, 1990)

The Germans are the undoubted group favorites, as well as a big chance to go all the way. They have great pedigree. Having won 3 World Cups, the history of the greatest sporting event globally is littered with the exploits of the Germans. From what we could dig up, the Krauts have an impressive number of WC stats that come with being a power house of WC football.

  • Most Semis: 11
  • Most Runners-up: 4
  • Most 3rd placings: 3
  • Most draws: 19*
  • Most goals in tournament (by eventual winner): 25
  • Most goals conceded: 112
  • Most goals conceded in tournament (by eventual winner): 14

    This country also produced the gentlemen who can boast:

  • Most tournaments played: 5* Lother Mattaus
  • Most Matches by a player: 25 Lother Mattaus
  • Most Hat-tricks: 2* Gerd Muller
  • Most penalties saved in shootout: 4 Harald Shumacher
  • Most matches coached: 25 Helmut Schon
  • Most Victories by a coach: 16 Helmut Schon

    * indicates that the record is shared

    Having said that, and stated all those marvelous stats, it’s important to remember what Mark Twain said, ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. So…

    Who will shine for Germany?:

    Well Klose has been out of form, and with Ballack injured, Coach Loew and the German nation will be looking to Muller and Schweinsteiger (hands down, Top 5 name to yell out loud. Seriously. Try it. We know and you’re welcome). Podolski’s also one to watch, instrumental 4 years ago, he will prove to be a handful for defenders again this year.

    Road to Victory:

    The Germans have never lost a penalty shootout in their World Cup history, and as there were 3 or 4 penalty shootouts in the recent World Cups, this will be one stat that the Germans would love to keep.

    Road to Ruin:

    Weight of expectation. Remember the Blitzkrieg. It might be a metaphor for their tournament. Devastating early in the tournament, exposed for its weakness late.

    Prediction:

    1st in Group

    GHANA

    FIFA Ranking: 32
    World Cup Record: 2 – 0 – 2
    World Cups: 0

    The Ghanaians are probably Africas best hope. They have the chance to become the first African team to take the World Cup away from the Europeans and the South Americans now that Drogba won’t be scoring 48 goals in this campaign. In the devastating form Drogba showed with the Premier League Champions “Chelsea” this year, he could have taken the field by himself and beaten a few teams (well not really, it is the World Cup).

    Not too much to say about “The Black Stars”, they were well and truly taken care of the last time they encountered the might of Germany, and Australia has had their number 4 of the 5 times they have played each other.

    Who will shine for Ghana?

    Essien is a huge loss for any team, but Muntari and Appiah have the footballing heads to guide this team to a possible upset. Keep an eye on Andre and Ibrahim Ayew. The brothers could link to cause some damage across the park.

    Road to Victory:

    Well the team did make it out of the group stages in 2006. The same would be a huge feat this time around, but they are on close to home soil, and will take a lot less than other teams in this group to acclimatise.

    Road to Ruin:

    The Essien absence casts a mighty shadow. Though they may be Africas best hope, that hope is still a longshot, though short priced favourite to produce Africa’s most attractive female fan with a shaved head. Must beat Australia in the second game to be any chance.

    Prediction:

    4th in Group

    SERBIA

    FIFA Ranking: 15
    World Cup Record: 16 – 8 – 16
    World Cups: 0

    Is it possible that this group of Balkan warriors could melt under an African sun (even though it is their winter)? Possible, though not highly probable. Though at some stage, somebody under the glare of World Cup pressure, will melt under pressure like a Madame Tussauds wax figurine in a pyromaniacs fantasy. Happens every tournament. Will it be a Serb? History suggests not.

    The Serbians qualified ahead of the French and with names that have become familiar to football fans around the world, they could very well prove us wrong and give the tournament a real shake. This team did thump 5 goals past Romania in qualifying, so goal scoring may not be a problem for them.

    Who will shine for Serbia?:

    We have seen Vidic help Man U be runners up this year in the Premier League, Stankovic and Mrdja (Can I buy a vowel, please?) can always be counted on for solid performances.

    Road to Victory:

    Pull together in strong defensive performances and they will be tough to crack, as well as scoring potency of their counter attack.

    Road to Ruin:

    If the team can manage not to be charged with ‘committing crimes against humanity’, for simply defending the rights of their fellow Serbs, that will be an achievement. Anything that involves them not spending the last 5 years of their lives defending themselves at the Hague, a good result.

    Prediction:

    3rd in Group

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