It’s the Final Countdown: 10 days

Here at Total Football, we’ll be counting down the final stretch toward the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We know that for you guys, like us, these last 10 days will move at an agonizingly slow pace, so stop by and read the daily posts for a five-minute distraction from staring at the clock!

10 Days

On a run to the 1982 Cup’s semifinal, France achieved a feat only one team has been able to match since. Les Bleus tallied 10 different goal scorers in the tournament held in Spain, and Italy managed to match the statistic on their run to hoisting the Cup four years ago.

Finding the net 16 and 12 times respectively, both teams obviously had to mount deep runs in the tournament and field a well-balanced squad to put 10 different goal scorers in the stat books. So which teams can do both of those things in South Africa and potentially bust this unique record?

Spain

When you’re one the favorites to hoist the Cup, it means you’re a team capable of scoring goals, and there are few who can match Spain’s offensive prowess heading into the finals. Looking at a potential front six for La Furia Roja in Torres, Villa, Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, there shouldn’t be a shortage of goals. They sport two of the most feared strikers in the game, and with Fabregas’ ability to cut through backlines and the range of their midfielders, Spain isn’t likely to disappoint.

But to score with 11 different players, obviously they’ll need help from the deeper players, which again, wouldn’t be a surprise from Spain. Sergio Ramos does just as well coming up the sideline as he does defending in the back. Given the opportunity to get forward on set pieces, Puyol is more than capable of burying a header and even Pique showed us against Inter Milan in the Champions League semifinals that the big man can display a cool head and tight footwork in front of the net.

The biggest hurdle for Spain would be making that deep run. The experienced, talented group won’t let the pressure of favorites cause them to stumble, but an almost guaranteed match against Brazil, Ivory Coast or Portugal in the round of 16 could close their run.

England

If this is going to be their year like many are predicting, Three Lions are going to have to find goals from all corners of the pitch. Despite Rooney’s tear through the Premier League this year, his late injury is going to slow the English hit man down, and he looked less than ineffective in England’s two friendly matches against Mexico and Japan.

While the one-two-punch partnership of he and Peter Crouch could be a joy to watch, Crouchie just isn’t the king of guy to go on a scoring rampage – thus, the guys behind the strikers will need to pitch in.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard? Yeah, they’ve scored some goals in their time. Lampard scored the most goals of a midfielder in the EPL this past year, and despite a dip in form in the last campaign, Gerrard almost guarantees a few flashes of brilliance… into the back of the net.

Mix in two top wingbacks who have proven they can score in Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole, and top it off with Terry’s proficiency to get on the end of corners and the English boys are another good pick for goals coming from all around the park.

Most of the top squads field strongly balanced teams, but in regard to setting a new record, these two seem the likeliest. The Germans are always well-rounded, but they also usually see a slew of goals from Klose and can count on the same from Podolski. The same goes for Brazil. Any player on their side of the pitch is capable of scoring, but most will likely come through Luis Fabiano, Kaka, Felipe Melo and Robinho (if he can continue to improve his form). And as far as Argentina, well let’s not count out Messi to set a record of his own.

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