We're not going to predict exciting games anymore because they're not going to come, at least for awhile. So in Wednesday's parade:
OK, we're going to break our promise already. This game really should feature lots of offense. A young Chilean team under the artful direction of manager Marcello Bielsa (the man who visits zoos for formation ideas) plays the most pressing offensive soccer in the tournament, usually using two attacking wingers in a 3-3-3-1 formation. Against Honduras -- which as the 3rd CONCACAF team is likely to play the usual role of cannon fodder for others -- the goals should come. This should be the highest scoring game of the first round. But then again, we thought Slovakia would put a boatload past the Kiwis and look what happened.
Next to Brazil, Spain is the pundit's favorite. Switzerland is, well, Switzerland. Which to us means that this game could be more competitive than people expect. Yes, Spain is an offensive juggernaut but the Swiss played four games at the last World Cup and never conceded. (They never scored much either which was the problem.) The Swiss lost only one game in qualification too. (Admittedly it was to awful Luxembourg, at home no less.) So the potential is there for an interesting match-up which, if the Spanish do their usual stumble job, could turn into a good game. Then again, it could be Germany-Australia all over again.
David Villa will lead the scoring charge for Spain.
The second slate of games begins and by now, you know the teams. You also know that at this match the vuvuzelas will never be louder; the home team will likely play way over its head, and Uruguay will spend another 90 minutes failing to figure out how to get the ball to its ace strikers Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. It should be a close tight game that will be won on a blunder or a brilliant move. Or it won't end up being decided at all, in yet another listless draw. For what it's worth, we fancy the South Africans' chances against a perpetually out-of-sync team.