The World's Worst Soccer Teams – Cuba

The Golden Age

Once upon a time Cuba was one of the best teams in the Americas. By the early 1930s, the Island finished first at the I Central and Caribbean Games. They defeated Costa Rica and Honduras. Subsequently, between July 4 and July 19, 1938, Cuba's national soccer team became the best Caribbean team in soccer history when they placed seventh at the Third FIFA World Championship in Paris, France's capital city. During that event, Cuba had defeated Romania. However the Island was not see again in the World Cup.

Country Profile: Cuba

This Spanish-speaking nation is located in the Caribbean Sea. It covers 42,800 square miles; Latin America's largest individual island. There are at least 12 million people. Havana is the country's capital. Politically, Cuba is a dictatorship.

Since 1959 Cuba, formerly a colony of Spain, has become a Marxist dictatorship. In practice the Island is governed by Castro's family. Hereafter, the nation's dictator Fidel Castro Ruz was elected as the first pro-Soviet leader in the Western Hemisphere. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the USSR (now Russia) provided a heavy military and economic aid.

Unfortunately it is one of the most brutal human rights abusing states in the Third World since the 1950s. Due to this, the Cuban tyranny is an international pariah on the world stage, along with Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea). According to Reports Borders, Cuba is one of "15 enemies of the Internet on Earth". For political and economic reasons, over 250 athletes, including Olympic champs, had left the country since 1990, the highest of the world's developing nations. Economically, it has become heavily dependent on Venezuelan aid since the 2000s.

FIFA World Cup

Cuba's national team has not qualified for the FIFA World Cup since 1938. In recent decades, many Caribbean and Central American nations, from El Salvador and Honduras to Haiti and Trinidad Tobago, have already outpaced Cuba. By the early 1970s, the Salvadoran team was the winner of the men's soccer CONCACAF Tournament and because of this it was one of the 16 teams in the FIFA championship in Mexico City. Hereafter, twelve years on, El Salvador, along with Honduras, took part in its second men's World Cup in Barcelona (Spain). For the first time in 44 years, Haiti, a virtual unknown before 1974, secured its place in soccer history when they competed at the X World Cup in Munich, West Germany. From 1990 on, Costa Rica has participated twice in the global event. At the FIFA 2002 tournament, the Central Americans finished 19th place (among 32 teams).

Unlike neighboring Cuba, Jamaica qualified for the World Cup in the late 1990s. The Jamaican squad placed 22nd in the FIFA championship, ahead of Scotland, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Subsequently, Trinidad & Tobago, a cricket-loving Island, participated at the 2006 World Cup. Meanwhile, Honduras has qualified for the South Africa 2010. Honduras, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, made its World Cup debut in the early 1980s.

From 1962 until the late 1980s, sports in Cuba had suffered an abrupt change when the USSR and other Marxist states sent up to 300 coaches to the Island. Also during that period, the Spanish-speaking nation received more money per capita to promote sports than any other nation on Earth, including South Korea, China and Greece. At the same time, several soccer coaches came to Cuba, from Hungarians to Soviets. In the meantime, the Marxist government sent a host of national squads to Eastern Europe, North Korea and the Soviet Union. Havana also hosted many international tournaments. But despite all of this, the Cuban soccer team did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup. But that was only the beginning of the tragedy.

A Nightmare

From the 1990s to the 2000s, only a handful of soccer players did not escape from Cuba. By the early 1990s, Fernando Griñan, one of the Island's most popular players, bought political asylum in abroad. But Griñan was not the only one. By 1998 Eduardo Sebrango fled Cuba to Canada. Shortly afterwards, Alberto Delgado y Perez and Rey Angel Martinez defected from its national team during the 20o2 Gold Cup in the States. Three years later, Maykel Galindo escaped from the Island. Likewise, between 2007 and 2008, Osvaldo Alonso, Lester More, Pedro Faife and Reinier Alcantara had left Havana. In March 2008, seven players bought political theory in America: Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez, Loanny Duarte, Yendri Diaz, and Eder Roldan. As a result, Cuba failed to qualify for the 2010 South Africa.

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Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Juan Roman Riquelme

His full name is Juan Román Riquelme. He was born June 24, 1978 in San Fernando, Buenos Aires, an impoverished providence of Buenos Aires Argentina to a family of ten. He is an Argentine soccer player who now plays for Boca Juniors of the Argentine Primera División, and his position on the field is as an attacking midfielder.

In 1995 Riquelme began playing professional football with the Boca Juniors and seven seasons enjoyed with the club prior to being traded to Barcelona. Following a short and not successful stay with them, he moved to Villarreal, and became superstar there, winning a lot of honors. Presently Riquelme continues to play at both the national and international level, and lately won the MVP award at the Copa Libertados.

A longtime Argentine international, Riquelme is best acknowledged for his spells with Boca Juniors and Villarreal. A playmaker, his major assets are his passing and setting the tempo of play.

It was Boca Juniors the club that had it as foremost character, in those that reached three times the Argentinean championship, to be champion of the Cup Libertadores of America in two opportunities, and champion of the Intercontinental Cup of soccer, in the year 2000.

Juan Román Riquelme is considered as a talented player with outstanding field vision. As of 2005, Riquelme is frequently noted as the key factor in Villareal’s explosive 2005 campaign.

Some of honours he received as log as his career are:

2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup (Villarreal CF)

2001 Copa Libertadores (Boca J.)

2000 Argentine Apertura Championship (Boca J.)

2000 Intercontinental Cup (Boca J.)

2000 Copa Libertadores (Boca J.)

1999 Argentine Clausura Championship (Boca J.)

1998 Argentine Apertura Championship (Boca J.)

1997 FIFA’s Football World Youth Championship (under-20)

As concerned as some of his individual honors are Player of the Year of Argentina (2000, 2001, 2008) and Copa Libertadore’s Most Valuable Player in 2007.

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Real Madrid – The Best Football Club in the World

They are not only the most successful club in the world but also the richest in the world according to the latest survey done by the money league which publish their research results annually. Yes, its true that Real Madrid are the richest club by income for the season 2006-2007 probably for the season 2007-2008 too but the results are not completed yet.

So what makes Real Madrid not only the richest club in the world but more significantly, the most successful as well.Well the statistics don’t lie and more often then not speak for themselves. For any club to be successful, only two titles could and should be given credit, The league and the Champions League,the rest are mere formalities as you all know (it does not take much to beat Sao Paulo in a cup final) so I am going to ignore the minor trophies here, lets have a look at most of the major football clubs track records against the Madrid Galacticos.

Manchester United have won only two Champions league trophy, one was way back when it was known as the European cup and the other in 1999,they have 16 league titles.

* Barcelona have also won two champions league trophies and 18 league titles

* Liverpool have won the competition FIVE times and they have 18 league titles

* Inter Milan have 2 champions league titles and 15 league titles

* Ac milan have 7 champions league titles and 17 league titles

There are some other major clubs as well but they have just started to grow so lets just ignore them for a moment.

Finally, Real Madrid has won 9 champions league titles and 30 league titles. Now I have listed all the great clubs of Europe above, not even a single club can match or come close to the records set by the Spanish powerhouse. Thus proving what I stated earlier that real Madrid is the undisputed champion of champions.

Real Madrid is the only team that holds the Cup in property, having won the title five consecutive times.

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Simple Theory for Soccer Betting

Why is soccer betting popular?

If we were to compare other sports with soccer, soccer has the highest occurrences for weak team to beat a strong team down especially in English Premier League. Let’s turn back the clock; can any of you recall the UEFA Championship final?? Clashed between Man.Utd and Bayern Munich in 1999 where Man.Utd successfully won Bayern Munich by 2 goals during 2 minutes injury time. For those who bet on Bayern Munich, how hard for punters to accept this, unfortunately this is the FACT. Well, as you can see, this is the most interesting part in soccer betting. There is a saying, “a football is round, therefore it might have unpredictable ending”.

What is the simple theory in betting world?

Everything in the world is sharing the same natural concept and also follows the same trend. There is no exception for soccer betting. The theory is simple. When a graph makes an incline, of course the line will keep climbing and stop at a stage. No matter how high it reaches or how low it drops, there is always a stop to it. I would confidently say that only in minor cases, the graph will move up and down continuously within a short period of time. As example, you could notice that most market share will always have gradual incline and then follow by long dropping line repeatedly. You could also notice that the rich gets richer and poor gets poorer. In sports betting, I believe some of you did experience before winning streaks which you kept winning non-stop even though you simply put your bet. In contrast when encounter down period, even if you work hard to make analysis or follow the bet of your lucky friends but finally lose too. Why? The only answer is natural concept and trend. We must agree and follow the trend.

How betting trend works in soccer betting?

The rule of thumb is do not be stubborn to confidently place bets on teams that continuously lost and have the thinking that they would make a come back. This is totally wrong. Maybe you will win at the end by follow this type of betting strategy but how much capital you need to have and how much you need to lose before you can win the bet. Based on the trend concept, if a team is keep losing, the graph for them is dropping, we should bet against them until the graph reach a pit stop. In contrast, if a team turnover from lose to win, we should start chase the team to win until stop stage. How simple is it? Win keeps winning and lose keeps losing.

Which team to bet from among of uncountable matches?

When using the trend concept in soccer betting, it is safer if we use it to bet on strong team and only focus on climbing graph. Meanwhile, we put our bet only on strong team when they are in win stage. The reason to choose strong team is they need points to secure their position at the top of the league table. In addition, strong team with higher strength could easily win if victory is a must.

The last but not the least, I am sure you will have doubts on my simple theory – trend. I could tell you that my theory has been proven. I have been using the betting strategy for 2 consecutive years and it really works for me. From my bet statistics, it hits more than 75% accuracy.

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FC Barcelona Faces Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League 2012

Last year FC Barcelona won the Champions League for the fourth time in its history and the third time since 2006. The Catalan club first won the trophy at London’s famous Wembley Stadium in 1992 when the so-called “Dream Team” assembled by Johann Cruyff beat Italians Sampdoria 1-0.

The goal was scored from a free kick by Ronald Koeman in extra time and in the squad was one Pep Guardiola, now the coach who has created his own dream team based on the “total football” introduced by Cruyff.

Barcelona’s second Champions League title was won against Arsenal in 2006 when Frank Rijkaard was coach; but it is Guardiola who has really built on the work of Rijkaard and won the title in 2009 and 2011, both times against Manchester United.

While Manchester United are already out of the 2012 competition after not progressing beyond the group stages, Barcelona will face Bayer Leverkusen in the next round; in the group stage they played Milan who they drew against in September at home and went on to beat 3-2 in the return match in Italy. You can buy tickets for FC Barcelona versus Bayer Leverkusen online from Simply Barcelona Tickets.

They also played Bate Borisov who put up little resistance against the might of Barcelona, who beat them 5-0 away and 4-0 at home; and Viktoria Plzen, who Barcelona first beat 2-0 at home and then 4-0 away. The results left them at the top of their group, with Milan in second place and both teams go through.

This year Barcelona’s main rival so far is Real Madrid, who they have a longstanding and extremely bitter rivalry. The arrival of Jose Mourinho at Madrid has ensured that the rivalry has been really turned up, but so far Barcelona has usually come out winning. Last year Madrid lost to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, who beat them 3-1 on aggregate.

And this year Mourinho has set his mind on beating Barcelona whenever he can. If they face each other in the Champions League he will need to overcome a massively talented rival whose home-grown talent is usually too much for his own team. Only time will tell.

In the next round against Bayer Leverkusen is to be played in February and March. The first leg is in Germany on Valentine’s Day, while the return is on March 7th. Meanwhile Real Madrid will play CSKA Moskow from Russia.

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Why England Keeps Failing At Major Tournaments: Premier League And UEFA Champions League Greed

The premier league is the most competitive and exciting football league in the world. This league has been marked so well that the many soccer fans automatically expect England to do well at major tournaments but they continue suffering from the same heartbreak.

The reasons for England's failure at the international level are very many but the most outstanding one is the premier league. This league has been properly branded to maximize revenue for the football clubs in England.

Because of the huge amounts of money generated by the televised league games, the clubs involved have lured the best players in the world so that they can come and play in England. Many football stadia have been improved so that they can accommodate the large number of fans.

Some clubs like Arsenal FC have built brand new stadia using borrowed money to meet the growing demand for match tickets. Many clubs in England have developed this habit of spending more money than they earn because they expect to recover such money spent in the near future. Some clubs buy players that they think can improve on their chances of premier league survival. This is mainly because playing in the lower leagues is not as lucrative as the premier league.

Charlton Athletic, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City and Bradford City have all suffered from premiership relegation but a close look at Leeds United will clarify why English clubs will do anything to stay in the premier league. In 2001, Leeds United reached UEFA Champions League semi-final where they were knocked out by Valencia. Three years later, they were relegated from the premier league. They have continued to struggle mainly due to some bad financial decisions made under chairman Peter Ridsdale; this forced them to sale the majority of their squad, the training facilities and even their ground. And to date they have never recovered from their premiership demotion that occurred in 2004.

While bottom clubs spend to avoid relegation, the top clubs spend to improve their chances of qualifying for the champions league that offers better money rewards compared to the premiership. These two scenarios create the demand for instant success by English clubs at both ends of the table. As a result, most clubs will buy foreign players that are proven and tested at the expense of developing young and talented English players. This will mean the local English players coming through the ranks will get very few opportunities if any to prove theirs worth. In the long run, the FA will have very few players available for selection at the national team level because they are not given enough opportunities by very greedy club owners to learn their trade.

As if this is greed is not enough, clubs jealously guard their players to extent of respecting international games as an inconvenience because they fear that their players will come back injured, tired or demoralized in case they loose while on international duty.

The physical nature of the premiership is good and entertaining but it does not properly prepare English players for International football where you meet opponents that have superior technical skills. UEFA Champions League experience is highly valued because it gives players opportunities of testing their football skills against technically superior teams like Barcelona and Bayern Munich. The problem for England here is that very few English players ply their trade in Europe's top clubs that frequently participate in UEFA Champions League.

The experience of winning a domestic league title would be good for English players too but a look at the newly crowned premier league champions sums up England's problems. Manchester City has only one recognized English player in Joe Hart, the rest are Internationals from countries like Argentina, Italy and France.

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The Champions League and European Football’s Evolvement

The question as to whether the early stages of the Champions League are unnecessary is an interesting one, particularly as the outcomes of them are generally easy to predict, with the big clubs moving on to the knock out stages and the smaller ones returning, more often than not back to obscurity. However, as true as that is, what is the alternative? The preliminary and to a greater extent the group stages at least offer the smaller clubs an opportunity to express themselves at a higher level as well as offering them much needed revenue. It also offers the football fan a great opportunity to look at the wide range of football that is played in Europe, it offers the opportunity to check out current and future stars of the game plus it also offers the opportunity for clubs to test their fringe and future players in a different style of football.

It should not be forgotten either that very often, games such Inter Milan v Spurs are thrown up, which for many football fans produced the best football seen at any level this season and also spotlighted the outstanding potential of Welshman, Gareth Bale, who has already become one of the most sought after players in world football.

It is true that now and again some matches are a waste, Manchester United v Bursaspor being a recent prime example. Clearly the Turkish side were outclassed and will be consigned to a more distant level of football after the group stages conclude. However, try telling that to their board of directors, their players and their fans that and they would probably start a turf war, as they, like United, earned the right to play the group stages and fully deserved their chance. Bursaspor will, like many other less known teams, be a stronger club for the experience.

It should also be remembered that the like any sport, football is still evolving and the Champions League could easily be the ‘blueprint’ for a much wider form of the game. The idea behind a future European League has long since been on the drawing boards of UEFA and the chances of it being fully sanctioned are quite profound.

How it would work at this stage is hard to know, but it would not necessarily mane the end of domestic football at all. The Premier leagues of all European countries would all continue as normal, with the Champions League being their reward for success. Football fans should be well aware that the Champions League and the Europa League have evolved from the European and UEFA Cups, but both, with the exception of the group stages are still knock-out competitions. The name changes have been made quite possibly for psychologically reasons as much as anything, aimed at preparing all those connected with football, including the football fan for the future format.

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Fantasy Soccer 2009 – Champions League Review

The UEFA Champions League tournament is regarded by some as being the biggest and best tournament in the world from any sport. Providing major excitement it might be more entertaining than the World Cup. The Champions League has almost ran its course for the ’08/’09 year and is about to crown its champion.

For those of us that have played Fantasy Champions League this season or plan on playing next season, here are a few tips and player recaps to keep in mind as we move ahead.

Keys to Success

Depending on where you play or what format you are in these tips may vary or be void altogether, however their core ideas remain the same.

– More successful the team the more successful the player –

A few places make you pick one specific roster and use it throughout the duration of the tournament. From a pure numbers standpoint, using this format greatly rewards those who make it deeper and end up playing the most games. If this is the situation you find yourself in, it may be more important to draft who is on the team you think will win rather than the best player on a lackluster team.

– Pay attention to ALL stats –

One fantasy killer in the soccer world is fouls. Fouls, yellow cards and the devious red cards can destroy your total points for a tournament. Some of the best offensive players are also the biggest committers of fouls which nullifies their positive stats. Drafting a weaker offensive player that commits fewer fouls may work out in your advantage when all is said and done. For example, Daniel Alves of Barcelona is a major threat from defense but take him with a grain of alt for he was second in fouls committed in the Champions League tournament with 26. That is a lot of negative points.

– The hidden star –

Fantasy tournaments can be won and lost by finding the gem that goes overlooked by most. Odds are, mostly everyone had Lionel Messi this tournament which nullified the 8 goals he has scored thus far. However, the managers that picked Miroslav Klose who netted 7 and Lisandro of Porto who scored 6 probably are amongst the leaders of their leagues. Find out who excels in tournament games and take a risk or two.

Recap

The Champions League is nearing an end but here is what has happened to some of the bigger names thus far.

– Lionel Messi (Barcelona) –

As mentioned before, he has scored 8 and had an extremely productive Champions League tournament. Barca has marched through their opponents and Messi has been a big factor as to why. He is a constant fantasy contributor and is worth the large price tag. No disappointments here.

– Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) –

Coming into the year Ronaldo was widely considered the best player in the world, however this view likely will switch to Messi following the results of the Champions League tournament. Ronaldo has not lived up to his enormous expectations and has only scored 2 with the tournament nearing an end. He leads all the competition with 26 shots on target, which has been a big fantasy contribution, yet the rarely heard of Lisandro of Porto has a second best 23 shots on target but also 6 goal tallies by his name. Ronaldo has not been his best and his numbers reflect it.

Looking Ahead

This season’s fantasy winner likely will have a roster of Barca players with a few of the hidden gems tossed in. Looking ahead to next year, the transfer of players will once again be an integral point to where a fantasy player’s value is at the start of the next tournament. One thing should be certain: Lionel Messi and Ronaldo will be the most sought players and rightfully so. However, it is the players like this season’s Klose and Lisandro that win it for fantasy managers.

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Brief History of the LPWA

The LPWA, or Ladies Professional Wrestling Association, was a wrestling promotion that featured women wrestlers with an emphasis on athleticism rather than beauty. The association was started by ex-wrestler Tor Berg in 1989 and lasted until 1992. Berg attempted to begin the promotion again in the beginning of 1999, joining forces with the NWA and changing the name to form the WNWA (Womens National Wrestling Alliance), but this venture was also short-lived as the promotion only lasted until 2000.

Before closing up shop in 1992, the LPWA held its one and only pay-per-view event, which was known as the “Super Ladies Showdown”. The event took place on February 23, 1992 in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Civic Center. The main events of the pay-per-view showing were the LPWA Singles Championship and the LPWA Japanese Championship. There were 12 matches televised for the event, with four of them being first round match-ups for the Japanese Championship, two semi-final matches for the Japanese Championship, and then the actual championship match.

The LPWA Japanese Championship was won by Harley Saito, who defeated Denise Storm to win the belt. The LPWA Singles Championship was won by Terri Power, better known as Tori from the WWF, who defeated Lady X. Lady X had previously won the championship over Susan Sexton on January 31, 1991. Lady X was also known as Peggy Lee Leather of the WWF, who formed a tag team partnership with Wendi Richter. Richter later became the WWF singles champion and defeated Leather in her quest for the belt. These two went on to battle each other in POWW(Powerful Women of Wrestling) as well. Lady X was also known for her performance in the lingerie battle royal for the AWA SuperClash III pay-per-view event and also appeared in WOW (Women of Wrestling) as Thug from 2000 to 2001.

The Tag Team Championship was also part of the LPWA’s only pay-per-view event and featured Leilani Kai and Judy Martin beating Bambi and Malia Hosaka for the championship. Kai was part of the WWF in the 1980’s and at one time was the champion after defeating Wendi Richter. She also paired with Judy Martin to form the Glamour Girls, who became both WWF and LPWA Tag Team Champions at different times in their careers. Kai also held the NWA World Womens Championship and wrestled for the WCW under the name of Patty Stonegrinder.

One of the most famous woman wrestlers of all-time, Madusa Miceli, who wrestled for the LPWA, WWF, and also for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. She was the first non-Japanese wrestler to compete in the All-Japan league of women wrestlers.

Following is a synopsis of the list of the LPWA’s championship holders.

LPWA Singles

  1. Susan Sexton / Awarded title in January of 1990
  2. Lady X / Defeated Susan Sexton January 31, 1991
  3. Terri Power / Defeated Lady X February 23, 1992

LPWA Tag Team Championship

  1. Team America (Heidi Lee Morgan and Misty Blue) defeated Bad, Black, and Beautiful (Black Venus and Bad Girl) March 13, 1990
  2. The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) defeated Team America February 28, 1991

With the closing of the LPWA in 1992, all of these womens wrestling titles were abandoned.

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Predicting the World Cup 2010 Winner

What does predicting the economy got to do with predicting the World Cup winner? A lot if you listen to Swiss Bank UBS.

In the World Cup 2006, the economists and analysts at the Wealth Management Research at UBS used the statistical model that enabled them to predict market trends and investment decisions and applied it to predict the World Cup winner.

They correctly predicted that Italy would be the champion. They also succeeded in getting six of the eight quarter-finalists correct. Their track record also included correctly forecasting three of the four semi-finalists.

UBS’s model is a purely quantitative analysis and the criteria used are past performance, home advantage and teams’ strength. Now let’s discuss the model:

For past performance, so far seven nations have won the championship. (Brazil five times, Italy four times, Germany three times, Argentina and Uruguay two times, France and England one time each). So according to UBS, if you pick one of these seven teams, it appears to be a safe bet.

As for the home advantage, a third of the past world cups was won by the host country. Now:

# The weather is mild winter in South Africa and it appears that the host nation may not have the climate advantage. This applies similarly to the African nations in the finals.

# Some matches will be played at venues at high altitude. This is a clear advantage to the host and the South American teams like Brazil.

# In every tournament, there is speculation of referees favoring the Home team. Will there be many controversial calls helping the host?

# This being Africa’s World Cup, there are many who wonder if an African nation will advance past the group stage into the quarter-finals for the first time. In every tournament, there will always be a team which will be the surprise package. Will this team come from Africa?

# And lastly, there is this “outside-of-Europe” syndrome. So far every World Cup had been won by either an European team or a South American side. No European team has won outside the comfort of their own continent. Now in South Africa, many pundits believe that the South American teams will have so-called ground advantage.

Regarding the strength of the teams, UBS took into consideration the FIFA ranking and the bookmakers’ odds.

So which team has UBS picked to be WC 2010 champion? Brazil.

Well, your guess is as good as mine on which team will win. My trusted crystal ball tells me it is Spain.

In every World Cup, betting wise, it is a true challenge. The tournament is held every four years and qualification ends months before the ball is kicked in the first game of the finals. During this time, a lot can change in the football world.

World Cup means patriotic fervor comes into play. We all have passionate feelings for a certain team or a certain player which will determine our decision.

There are 32 teams in the finals so technically there are 32 potential winners. It is interesting to note some characteristics of these teams:

* Some teams have a good striking department with tons of firepower, but lacking everywhere else.

* Some teams have great talented players but have insane coaches.

* Some are perceived as perennial underachievers like Spain and England who seem to choke on the big stage.

* Some are tournament teams like Germany and Italy who may be underrated before the finals, but know how to grind out the results. Well this is according to past performances.

* Experts have expected Spain to win the last two World Cups – but they never have.

* England are going to win it every time according to the English – but they never do.

And there are some interesting statistics:

# No team has successfully defended the WC for a long while. Would the 2006 winner Italy be the exception? But Italy has an aging squad and may not be expected to last all the way. It is easier to reach the top, but much harder to stay there!

# Only once in the last 21 group games has the WC host lost, so would South Africa be the surprise package?

Why Spain will Win

With one loss in their last 46 matches, Spain arrived at South Africa as one of the best teams. They are the favorites to lift the World Cup on July 11. They are ahead of Brazil in the eyes of the bookmakers and pundits.

Spain (Rank 1) play in Group H against Chile (Rank 17), Switzerland (Rank 18) and Honduras (Rank 38).

They have been dubbed by the media in the past as “perennial underachiever”. But the faith of their fans may be justified this time as they have completely turned the corner after winning Euro 2008. They had built on this success and thereafter had won all of their qualifying games for WC 2010, the first team to achieve such a record.

The Talents

Spain is a team with polished gems. They boast the talents of Fernando Torres and David Villa up front, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas in the middle, Carles Puyol and Gerrard Pique at the back, and Iker Casillas in goal. The reigning European champion look a formidable bunch.

They are stacked with players from the elite leagues in Europe like Barcelona and Real Madrid. The squad has so much depth that even the impressive Arsenal captain Fabregas, whom many consider as one of the best midfielders around, has to warm the bench as a substitute.

A well balanced team is needed to have the consistency to get through such a high level tournament. Look at Argentina. The hope of the entire nation rests on the shoulders of young Messi. But Messi does not perform for his country like he does for Barcelona because he does not have the midfield marshals like Xavi and Iniesta behind him to pull the strings. And I shall leave the Argentina manager alone.

The Spanish squad has been largely unchanged from the team that won Euro 2008. Playing together for years can only foster better understanding on the pitch. The Spain of today exude calm and confidence. Wearing the European crown does such things to you.

Injury

Of course injury is a concern but this is the same for every team. Torres and Fabregas missed playing the tail end of the league due to injuries. To look on the bright side, this could actually be a blessing in disguise as they are totally rested for the World Cup.

Spain has a deep squad with comparatively able replacements. They are not a one or two men team like Ivory Coast relying on Drogba.

If injuries are inflicted on play-makers, any team will suffer like Rooney for England, Lucio and Kaka for Brazil, Messi for Argentina, Sneijder for Holland, etc. Serious injuries are a disaster for every team.

Pressure

Being ranked No. 1 and as hot favorites, expectations are high. Will Spain crack under the pressure?

Much was made out of their 2-0 defeat in the Confederations Cup semi-final to USA last June. This ended their 35 match streak without a loss. Some said Spain buckled under the pressure in that match because they wanted so much to break Brazil’s 35 match streak of not suffering a loss. To many this is considered a great weakness to cave in to pressure.

A lot of teams lose matches that they should win. Most important is to learn a lesson from the loss. I believe the Spanish had indeed learned a valuable lesson. From then on, they had not lost again.

Mental Strength

Psychologists often stress that half of the battle is won in the head. Unfortunately, Spain have the unwanted tag of perennial choker on the big stage. In the past when the going gets tough, they have gone missing.

But now all the players pledged that they know their biggest enemy is themselves and they have developed greater self belief.

Complacency

There is a great threat of complacency when facing the likes of Honduras, Chile and Switzerland. I am confident that with an experienced coach in del Bosque, the players will know in no uncertain terms that a place in the second round is not a formality.

Assurance and over-confidence is divided by a very fine line. The last thing they will think is they have already won the match even before the ball is kicked.

How To Beat Spain

Some said the way to beat Spain is to follow the tactics of Jose Mourinho whose Inter Milan succeeded where virtually everybody failed by knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League. The tactic is to have the players defend deep in their own half, soaking up the pressure thrown at them and rely on swift counter-attack to score. Well, I am not sure whether there could be another “Special One’ around.

Conclusion

If Spain keep their heads they will win World Cup 2010. If they don’t, they are simply beaten by themselves.

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