World Cup Group H Preview: Should Spain be the favorite to win it all?

spain

Group H is the group of similarities. For starters, three of the four teams (Spain, Honduras and Chile) are Spanish-speaking countries. This means that both teams will be able to comprehend “yo mama” jokes, which may lead to more Zinedine Zidane-like headbutts.

Another similarity is the fact that some of the most accomplished coaches are in this group. Spain is coached by Vicente del Bosque, who has won two Champions League titles, two La Liga titles and one Intercontinental Cup. Switzerland’s coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, also has two Champions League titles along with two Intercontinental Cups and seven Bundesliga championships. Chile’s coach, Marcelo Bielsa, won the Olympic Gold in 2004 and is the only coach in this group with World Cup experience.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group F Preview: Can Italy defend their title?

italy soccer

For those who want to see fast-paced, high-flying action, look elsewhere, because Group F is made up of grind-it-out teams. Italy, the defending World Cup champs, have always been known for their defense and counter-attacking. Paraguay only scored 11 goals in their past 11 World Cup games. Slovakia is a team who looks to get an early lead and sit on it. That leaves us with New Zealand, who’s only other World Cup appearance was in 1982, where they only scored two goals.

Some are thinking, “great, as if soccer wasn’t boring enough, we have to watch a group that doesn’t even score goals.” Not so fast (literally for this group). Though it won’t be high-scoring, there may be more drama in this group than all the other groups combined.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group G Preview: Who will survive the “Group of Death”?

group of death

Every year there is a “group of death”. This year’s “group of death” is hands down Group G. Three of the four teams are some of the world’s best (Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast). Unfortunately, only two can advance. Not only are there great teams in this group, there are world-class players as well. In this group, are the 2007 and 2008 FIFA World Players of the Year, Kaka (Brazil) and Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal) respectively.

Though there are great players in this group, there are also some stars that have been left out. Most notably left out is the aging Ronaldinho of Brazil, who has been the face of Brazilian soccer for years. Brazil’s Alexandre Pato, a man who left his family at age 11 to play soccer, was a surprise cut from the roster. He was not only expected to make the team, he was thought to have a large role. Also, Questionable to play in this year’s World Cup, because of a broken arm is Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba. He is one of the most potent scorers in the world and would be sorely missed for Ivory Coast.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group E Preview: Is this the year Holland makes a run?

van persie

Group E is made up of the offensive-minded Netherlands, the physical Cameroon, attacking Denmark and Japan.

The Netherlands (also refereed to as Holland) have dominated in qualifying and friendlies leading up to the World Cup, but none of that matters until they can win on the big stage. They have a history of under-performing against quality opponents. The talent is always there, but they just never live up to expectations. As a matter of fact, they just may be the most talented nation to have never won the World Cup.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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World Cup Group B Preview

diego maradona

If I could pick between: seeing the Chicago Cubs win the World Series before I die or never seeing Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona naked, I would choose the latter. I think I would rather go to a Justin Bieber concert by myself than see that.

Earlier this month, Maradona claimed that he would go streaking through the streets of Buenos Aries if Argentina won the World Cup. Either the man is a free spirit or he is THAT convinced Argentina won’t win.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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2010 World Cup Preview: Group A

World Cup

Aside from Group G (the “group of death”), Group A may prove to be the toughest all-around group from top to bottom. France is favored to win the group but will have their hands full with the host country South Africa and two battle-tested squads in Mexico and Uruguay. In this article, we make our World Cup Odds, World Cup Futures Odds, and make our World Cup Soccer Picks

Game to watch: Watch all of them! But, if you had to pick one game to watch, it would have to be the first game between South Africa and Mexico. Mexico got the short end of the stick having to play the host country first. The annoying horns will be blowing and the crowd will look like the stage of the Lion King musical with everyone decked out in yellow and green. Mexico will be favored in this match, but with the fans on their side South Africa may be able to start off the World Cup with a bang.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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7 Reasons to watch the 2010 World Cup

world-cup-fans

The NBA playoffs aren’t going to last forever, though at times it may seem like it. When they end, we will   officially be entering the dog days of summer in the sports world. How will you know? Just turn on Sportscenter.  There will be highlights of hotdog eating contests and breaking news regarding Brett Favre’s latest bathing techniques. Oh and let’s not forget there is always base…..Zzzzzzzzzzzz……… Oh sorry, as I was saying, there is always baseball to watch.

By Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Mexican National Team soccer match at Soldier Field sells out

team mexico

Chicago’s Soldier Field has sold out for the international soccer match featuring the World Cup-bound Mexican national team and the African nation of Senegal, scheduled for this upcoming Monday, May 10 (9 p.m. ET), organizers announced today. The second consecutive sell-out in “El Tri’s” May tour matches prior to traveling to South Africa, over 60,000 fans are expected to attend the game in the Windy City.

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Sidetracked: Sconnie Speedskater May Go for Gold

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By: Melissa S. Wollering

With the Olympics fresh on the minds of many Midwesterners as a result of the Chicago 2016 bid, we here at The SportsBank.net wanted to share one of the region’s best-kept secrets. You know, things that are “kind of a big deal.” Every so often in our new column Sidetracked, we’ll branch out to bring you the best in non-mainstream Midwestern sports talent.  We start with speedskating. If you don’t know him now, you will by Vancouver 2010.  He’s the next big name headed to the Winter Olympics in his sport; Janesville, Wisconsin native Tucker Fredricks. [Read more…]