Why the early favourites won’t finish first

The World Cup 2010 is now truly up and running, but many of the more-fancied teams have still to get going.

Brazil, England, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain all struggled in their opening fixtures. Of those teams, only Brazil won and historically, no team has ever lifted the World Cup after failing to win their first match.

This tournament could be the exception to the rule though. The most impressive teams so far have been Germany and Argentina, yet there are question marks over both sides.

The Germans started in a typically strong fashion, but their performance has to be put in context. Their 4-0 win over Australia, came against a team who started the match without any recognized strikers and who had Tim Cahill sent off when only 2-0 down.

Joachim Loew’s side should face tougher opposition in their next two games, though they will still be expected to win both of them. The Germans will probably reach the latter stages, but there was a reason why they started the tournament as outsiders. Do they have enough quality?

Argentina were impressive in their opening game against Nigeria, before heavily defeating South Korea and Greece.

Their attacking talent is unarguable, but do they have the balance in the side to go all the way? Their midfield looks short of numbers and they have already suffered an injury to the 35-year old Juan Sebastian Veron.

There also has to be question marks over any defence that includes the Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez at right back. If Maradona persists on playing him there, he will get ripped apart against decent opposition.

A tournament like the World Cup is a marathon rather than a sprint and there’s every chance according to many World Cup tips that the winner will come from the chasing pack.

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