World Cup 2010 - Group A
|Group A Table|
France: An up-and-down qualifying campaign saw the French lose out in their group to Serbia by a point. Their away form was poor, from going down 3-1 to Austria in their first match to drawing at Romania and Serbia. They also struggled to get past Ireland in the play-off, with only William Gallas's extra-time goal avoiding penalties or worse. However, nobody will underestimate a side that has veteran, emerging and world-class talent through the spine of the team.
Mexico: 2010 will be El Tri's fifth successive finals appearance and they exited each of the last four events in the second round. Opening the tournament against the hosts will be no small task, but a budding crop of youngsters such as Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela may give the side enough pep to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986. Mexico, who were a seeded team at Germany 2006, went out to Argentina in the second round yet only after Maxi Rodriguez's extra time Goal of the Tournament.
South Africa: It has been a tumultuous few years for South Africa, but a creditable performance at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the prelude to this summer, has set expectations high going into Group A. Their semi-final loss to Brazil in that event, and subsequent single-goal, extra-time defeat by Spain in the third-place match, show that the hosts can compete at the highest level. And though they have fallen at the group stage in their two FIFA World Cup appearances, they have lost just two of their six finals matches. All eyes will be on dynamic England-based midfielder Steven Pienaar to create chances.
Uruguay: Having advanced to the finals for a third time via the play-offs, Uruguay will be contesting their 11th FIFA World Cup. Yet while the Celeste have one of the richest histories in world football, coach Oscar Tabarez has built a relatively young side that relies on a core group of players. Tabarez has been at the Uruguay helm before at a FIFA World Cup, having led the team in 1990 when they succumbed to hosts Italy in the second round.