- Rio Ferdinand: the normal captain of the English favourites is out with a knee injury he got during training.
- Michael Ballack: an extraordinary player who will be missed, is out due to the Ghanaian Kevin Prince Boateng's vicious tackle in the FA Cup final. This seriously weakens the German team, who will also be without Simon Rolfes and Rene Adler.
- Michael Essien: Ghana's and Chelsea's midfield dynamo did not get past his long-term injury, and this seriously weakens Ghana, where also the veteran Stephen Appiah has been doubtful (but he is in South Africa).
- Didier Drogba, one of the best strikers in the world and a lethal weapon for the Ivory Coast, fractured his arm in a friendly match against Chile. He is in South Africa, and it seems that he may play, but it all remains highly doubtful.
- John Obi Mikel, yet another Chelsea player is out for Nigeria due to a knee injury.
- Humberto Suazo, "Chupete", Chile's leading striker, got a hamstring injury in a friendly match against Israel. He is in South Africa, but it is doubtful he will be able to play. Marcelo Bielsa, Chile's coach, is known to push his players very hard.
- Andrea Pirlo: The best Italian player of the 2006 final, and dynamo from AC Milan, suffered a calf injury during training, and will be out for Italy's first two matches, but it is hoped he will be recovered for the knock-out stages. No matter what, his absence is a serious problem for Marcelo Lippi.
- Miroslav Karhan, one of Slovakia's most experienced and veteran midfielders, is out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury.
- Carlos Costly, Honduras' best striker, is out the entire tournament after breaking the foot, and this also seriously hampers Honduras' hopes of upsetting someone in their difficult group.
Smaller nations, more dependent on their stars, will probably suffer the absence of their stars more than the bigger teams, but the dynamic for each team will be changed.
In the end, the winner of the World Cup may be the team that best manages its injuries!
how can England be one of the favorites? In their own minds, maybe, but before they are able to find a goalkeeper, they can in my view not expect to get past the quater final.
If England is a favorite, then there is 32 favorites for the title this year :-)
hmmm, maybe maybe.
But there are indeed 32 potential winners.
I believe they are favourites. Capello has given them discipline and made them more cool and their group and way to the final is not awful. (like Spain´s)
Seems Arjen Robben is doubtful now... Good for Denmark, but not so good for the Netherlands and for football fans!
I agree with you that it is because of Capello that the English can be counted in as a candidate for the title. But in my mind they are not among the 3-5 favorites, which would be: Brazil, (Italy), Germany, Spain, and Argentina.
Brazil - well they are and should be favorites. The players know that they have only had an succesfull tournament, if they win (which is the same for Italy; and the reason why smaller football nations rarely make it further than the semifinal - they get satified too soon).
Italy - only two countries (Italy and Brazil) has ever defended the title - I don't think it will happen this year.
Germany - somehow they often manage to get far - and then they show the coolness of knowing that they are cool.
Argentina - have won the tournament twice in my life time (>1974) - like Italy, Brazil and Germany - and they have skilled players. With Maradonna to inspire it will be either very good or really really fucked-up.
Spain - until 2008, they never lived up to the expectations, but then they won in 2008. Basically the same players, and those players are at the highest level in Europe - high pressure every match. Although their road to the final seem more bumpy than the English - player for player - I would never mention England as a larger favorite for the title than Spain.
I hope we'll sit somewhere in France - at a little café - watching Spain win their second international title. (Then Spain will have to pay us to go on a road trip in 2012 :-)
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