Group E preview

7 Jun

Group E
Cameroon
Denmark
Japan
Netherlands

Cameroon is led by mercuial midfielder Samuel Eto’o, who threatened to quit the team after aformer star player Roger Milla made some disparaging remarks about him. Really?! You are a grown man and that might possibly be the lamest reason ever to quit a national team right before the World Freakin’ Cup. Anyways, as of right now, it looks like Eto’o will be playing which is good news for Cameroon as the team’s success will likely depend on Eto’o’s ability to orchestrate the offense. The team’s defense is solid, but not exceptionally fast and that could come back to bite them against speedy teams like Japan and Holland.

Denmark comes into the World Cup as a confident squad after winning a tough qualification group that included favorites Portugal. Arsenal’s pink-booted Nicklas Bendtner has the ability to score some nice-looking goals or totally muss things up, so it will be interesting to see which version shows up in South Africa. Liverpool’s Daniel Agger will help anchor the defense. Agger also has the ability to unleash some long range bombs.

Japan is in its fourth straight World Cup. The team will be aiming to pick up a win or two on foreign soil for the first time. Midfielder Yasuhito Endo’s performance will be key as he helps control the pace of the game. Keisuke Honda is also a potentially dangerous player out of the midfield. Despite finishing second in qualification behind Australia, goals were not easy to come by for Japan, so the question will be who can find the back of the net.

Netherlands is the clear favorite to win group E. The Dutch coasted through qualifying and have the potential to go far in the tournament. (But I thought that in 2006 as well and what happened? A four red card debacle against Portugal.) The strength of the Dutch team is in the midfield and the attack. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder is always dangerous and adds yet another potent option to an already speedy attack. Striker Arjen Robben suffered an injury scare in a 6-1 friendly win over Hungary, but he should be fit in time for the opening match against Denmark. The big question mark for the Netherlands is the man between the sticks. Maarten Stekelenburg replaced Edwin van der Sar and he’ll have to be at his best if the Dutch want to go deep into the tournament.

The Soccer Wall’s picks to advance: Netherlands, Denmark

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