World Cup Previews: South Africa Open World Cup With Mexico, Hand of Henry and France Play Uruguay

10 June 2010

Night view of the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. The stage is set for a spectacular and emotional opening ceremony to kick off the first World Cup on African soil. A global TV audience of several hundred million is expected to watch the opening events. (Credit Image: © BPI/Imago/ZUMApress.com)
Well it's finally upon us, the World Cup is upon us. I won't lie when I say I feel like I did when I was five years old going to bed Christmas Eve and over hearing my parents moving a TV and Nintendo into the living room to put around the tree. I doubt I'll sleep too much tonight, but I don't think many of us will. All the talk can stop, all the hype can part from our brains. Let's just play some damn football, which will finally happen Friday morning at 9:30 am on the East Coast.

For the duration of the World Cup, my editor, Jeff Hash, and I will be giving our predictions for each of the group games. However, don't expect the typical long form preview for each game. If you've followed my writing long enough, you know it's just not my style. These previews will each be a paragraph or two in length, giving our thoughts on the following day's events. However, instead of picking an outright result for each match (which I'll be honest, I'll probably still do out of force of habit), we're going to be using the betting lines from Centsports to give what we think our safest bets for each match will be.

Now for the primer that will be attached for each day's bets. If we're using the handicap line, we will include what the spread is. If it spread is 0, a draw will mean no result. If we use the Over/Under line, just add the total number of goals scored in a match. Please note that this will all be based on the scoreline at Full Time (90 minutes). For betting purposes, only the result after 90 minutes are counted.

Friday 9:30 am on ESPN: South Africa v Mexico
Jeff Hash: On any other match day of this tournament, I would think of this as a pretty solid result for Mexico.  Both teams have had good build-ups to this game, but Mexico has seen themselves do well against better opponents.  However, the opening day atmosphere of this game has a great chance of unnerving both sides, and the hosting nation has never lost their opener in World Cup group stage history (10 wins, 5 draws).  I won't be bucking history to start my picks, as there just isn't enough of a difference to do otherwise. My pick is South Africa on the 0 at +105
Johnathan Starling: I can't disagree with Jeff here. Let's be frank, while Mexico has looked pleasing on the eye, they have still had some problems scoring goals. Bafana Bafana, while not playing the best competition, are playing with confidence. Add the first game of the World Cup, Nelson Mandela, and more Vuvuzelas than we will probably see together in a match, and this one is a no brainer. South Africa +0 is a safe bet in case of the win, but my pick is under 2.5 goals at -175. This game just has 1-1 draw written all over it.

Friday 2:30 pm on ESPN: Uruguay v France
Jeff Hash: So, who do you prefer coming into a match:  The team that hasn't done much since edging their way into the finals, or the team who hasn't done well since edging their way into the finals?  I don't know if you could have had two other teams on blander forms facing off in this tournament.  I'm worried about the rust factor in Uruguay (only one full international during their buildup), and I think France has a strong enough will to overcome the problems and answer the call the first time out.  After that, who knows.  For this match though, they'll get it over the line. My pick is France to win outright at +110.
Johnathan Starling: Well I didn't expect the second match to be the first match Jeff and I disagreed on. Yes, Uruguay and France are lifeless right now. However, since Evra has been named captain of the squad, France has pretty much been at near riot levels. With France pulling themselves in three different directions (Evra, Henry's...oh and Raymond's star chart), I think Uruguay despite the rust can get something out of this match. My official pick is Uruguay on the 0 line at +150. If you're looking for a secondary bet, I would also bet the over 2.5 goals line at +120 as I think this game is going to finish 2 a piece.

What are your thoughts on the matches being played to kick off the World Cup? Let us know in the comments below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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