World Cup Group E preview
South American and European nations have been alternate winners of the World Cup since 1962. Italy’s win in 2006 means Brazilian and Argentinean fans looking for an omen are in luck, although the dominance of European teams last time around, combined with the improving strength of African and Asian teams, suggest the South American big guns have their work cut out maintain this pattern.
Group E is the most likely group of the 2010 Football World Cup to produce two European qualifiers. Netherlands and Denmark have been as impressive recently as Japan and Cameroon have been inconsistent and it would be a shock if the two European nations did not advance to the last 16.
The Dutch won all eight of their qualification matches, conceding just twice in the process. They have not conceded in their last five matches, although three successive friendly goalless draws suggests work needs to be done at the other end of the pitch.
The absence of Robin van Persie has not helped and the Oranje need the Arsenal man fit and fresh to lead their bid for a maiden World Cup victory. They have not done themselves justice since reaching two finals in the 1970s and a World Cup Bet should be placed on them topping this group comfortably.
Denmark were as impressive in qualifying, topping a tougher group that contained Portugal and Sweden. They have reached only three previous finals, but advanced to the knockout stage each time and there is every reason to expect them to do the same again. They have won their last four friendlies in style.
Japan are also appearing in their fourth finals. They reached round two on home soil in 2002 but have otherwise struggled and recent results suggest they will again be on an early plane home. They won only four of their eight Asia qualification fixtures, drawing against Qatar and Uzbekistan, but more significantly lost 3-0 to Netherlands in a friendly – a similar outcome in South Africa would not be surprising.
Cameroon have improved under new boss Paul Le Guen but failed to convince at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, winning only once. An over-reliance on Samuel Eto’o again seems inevitable, although they are capable of upsets against Netherlands and Denmark.