So confession time. I haven't figure the World Cup out yet. I haven't even tried. Yes, we did some preliminary research a few months ago for the World Soccer Unofficial World Cup Guide and I still stand by what we wrote. But I've barely looked at the fantasy games on offer, and to be perfectly honest I've been considering not doing fantasy at all! I'm not sure I'm ready to get into the weeds on Ghana's starting back line or getting myself tied in knots trying to figure out who will be taking kicks for South Korea. Furthermore, I don't want to be watching the USA - the one team for whom I'm unabashedly rooting - and temper my celebrations of a Dempsey goal because I had Donovan on my fantasy team instead.
But that being said, dear reader, I don't want to leave you in the lurch as you (and let's be honest, probably I) set your fantasy team for this month's extravaganza. Every site seems to have team and group previews. Frankly, I'm finding all that a bit over-whelming, and not all that useful for fantasy. The fantasy games seem to be some variety of "pick your team and then utilize n number of transfers over the course of the group and then knock-out stages". So it hit me that what's missing is a chronological look at the matches on offer. While you may care to look through group G in depth, what you might just need is a look at the first round of group matches to set your initial team and then further looks at the later rounds to help you asses your transfer strategy.
I'm not sure that this will inspire me to set up my team (and public groups), but it just might. Regardless, I hope you find it helpful.
So what jumps out at me looking at the first week of matches?
Brazil v. NKorea (15/06). It's got to be the penta-campeones opportunity to fill their boots. Fabiano, Kaka, Robinho. Get them. Spend the money. This could be a Germany/Saudia Arabia type scoreline.
South Africa v. Mexico (11/06). Mexico has been looking good in their warm-up matches and their young attackers - Dos Santos (likely listed as a middie), Vela, new Manchester United man Javier Hernandez and winger Andres Guardado - are a very fluid, and potentially potent, front line for El Tri. While the South Africans will have all the emotion of opening the tournament on their home soil, I think Mexico can spoil the party.
Germany v. Australia (13/06). Australia lost to the USA in a warm up match last weekend. The Socceroos are a tight-knit, but limited unit. Germany, on the other hand, are in a bit of transition with young(er) players coming in to important positions on the team with an experienced spine -- yikes! what a horrible sentence. Anyway, I would expect Germany to get off to a good start here.
Honduras v Chile (06/16). Neal and I were both looking at this match. Chile are in the shadow of their South American "big brothers" Brazil and Argentina. However, they are an attacking side who play with four attackers, including one of our sleeper picks of the tournament, Matias Fernandez. Honduras has a solid team, but perhaps just aren't world class at many positions. Chile will also be desperate for points from this match as they'll then have to face Spain and Switzerland in the remaining two group matches.
Other than these four matches, what stood out to Neal and I was the number of stay away games. Great games for the neutral fan, but not where you want to put your fantasy dollars.
Uruguay v France - France should be favoured here, but Uruguay have quality and France haven't shown themselves to be anything more than a the team that only qualified for the tournament by the skin of Thierry Henry's hand.
South Korea v Greece
Argentina v Nigeria - This should be a great game, but I don't think it will be until after this match that we have any idea what to expect from Maradona's side.
Algeria v Slovenia
Serbia v Ghana
Netherlands v Denmark - The Dutch will be outside favouties and have enough firepower to destroy teams. But this is the the one match where you wouldn't want to pile in on the likes of van Persie and Sneijder.
Japan v Cameroon
Italy v Paraguay
New Zealand v Slovakia - okay, they can't all be winners
Ivory Coast v Portugal - This is a must watch, even without Drogba. But in the Group of Death points will be hard to come by and will have to be hard fought for.
Spain v Switzerland - Like Netherlands v Denmark above, you have to like Spain but not this week.
Finally, close readers will notice that there's one match not mentioned. I think England v United States deserves its own post. And I might just force Neal to write it.