It’s the Final Countdown: 8 Days

Eight Days

After 18 Cups, only seven countries have hoisted the trophy at the end of the tournament. South Africa already seems to have a special feeling to it, but could 2010 finally be the year that EIGHT teams could put their names on that coveted list? Let’s take a look.

The Ivory Coast of course has never won a World Cup, but they’re making a name for themselves as a popular pick for the dark horse going into the tournament. Didier Drogba will lead Côte d’Ivoire into the tournament, and let’s be honest, there are few in better form that Drogba going into the Cup. He’s backed by Arsenal’s Eboue and the brothers Toure of Man City and Barcelona round out an impressive core of a fast and strong squad. The largest hurdle is in that group stage however, and Portugal may have something to say.

Portugal goes into the tournament off an embarrassing nil-nil draw to Verde Islands, but also an encouraging 3-1 win over Cameroon. They’ll need a stellar performance out of superstar, divo, wanker, phenom, whatever you like to call him, Cristiano Ronaldo. Like Drogba, Ronaldo finds himself in the center of a quality, experienced cast, and also like Drogba, getting out of the group stage will be his biggest concern.

Netherlands are another strong pick for the most likely, unlikely team to win it all, but I’ll leave it to Mr. Dominguez to tell you guys all about why they’re the best team to never win it. Check back tomorrow!

Since the three gentlemen who bring you Total Football are all Yanks, I couldn’t help but throw a bone to The States. It’s a crazy notion, but it’s a claim that isn’t as in need of a reference to the nearest asylum as it used to be. Timmy Howard has done wonders for Everton this past year, and the Yanks are going to need a stingy tournament from him if they’ve got a shot. They’ll also need a top-shelf showing from their talisman Landon Donovan – even if he is playing on the wing. Are we seeing a trend? The potential eighths all needing an inspiring performance from their stars? Hmm. The Yanks will be disappointed not to get out of their group, and their athleticism, pace and eight years of seething vengeance could very well put them past a likely German opposition in the round of 16. Once underdogs make it that far, who knows what can happen?

Oh, did I mention Spain has never won the World Cup? For the record, the holders are Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy and Uruguay. Do I need to explain why they’re a favorite? I doubt it, and if I do, I’ll simply say: Look at their roster.

Think we left out a nation? Let us know!

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