ITV’s Andy Townsend delivers his World Cup verdict

ITV's Andy Townsend has provided with his predictions for the World Cup.

ITV's Andy Townsend has provided with his predictions for the World Cup.

ITV will cover 32 of the 64 games, split with the BBC, but crucially have secured the opening two prime time England games, England vs USA and England vs Algeria.
The live games are also being backed up by a hilarious New Programme World Cup Live. With near unprecedented access to the England squad in the build up to the Finals, the immensely talented Hammers fan, will give an alternative reaction and insight after every ITV evening match. This is to include his very own Human world cup chart!!

Former Aston Villa and Chelsea star Townsend is backing Spain to win the World Cup - with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to be bounced out at the group stages.


Andy's World Cup verdict

Group A
South Africa – The one thing in South Africa's favour is that no one expects too much from them. They might just make it out of the group with the home support. If not they will be the first Host nation, not to do so.
Star Man – Steven Pienaar
Verdict – Out in the group stages

France – The French had a tough qualifying period and their coach is as popular at home as Thierry Henry is in Dublin.
Star man – Frank Ribery
Verdict - Quarter Finals

Mexico – The Latin American under achievers having only twice got to the quarter finals in 13 appearances.
Star Man – Giovani Dos Santos
Verdict – Round of 16

Uruguay – They may have won the very first World Cup but since then they have not been a nation to concern others. Much will depend on their captain, former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan.
Star Man – Diego Forlan
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Group B
Argentina – Winners twice before and boasting the worlds best player, Lionel Messi, Argentina can never be overlooked. But can their coach, the great Maradona really cut it when it matters as a coach.
Star Man – Lionel Messi
Verdict – Quarter finals

Nigeria – Should be well supported in South Africa. A little unfortunate to be in such a strong group but should have enough to see themselves clear. Their opening game is against Argentina but it’s their results against South Korea and Greece that will determine their final outcome
Star Man – John Obi Mikel
Verdict – Round of 16

Greece – It seems along time ago since the heroics of 2004 in Portugal. Coached by German Otto Rehhagel, they should be solid and tough to beat.
Star man – Theofanis Gekas
Verdict – Out in the group stages

South Korea – Who can forget the scenes form the streets of South Korea in 2002. This is the 7th time that South Korea have qualified for the finals. Their boundless energy will be there once more for all to marvel.
Star man – Ji-sung Park
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Group C
England – Here we go again! Capello appears to have galvanized the national team into a European force. With a phenomenal midfield, very capable forwards, it’s perhaps the defence that is the weakest link. Do we have enough to stop Spain and Brazil. If the key players can avoid injury and suspensions who knows. Maybe – just maybe!
Star man – Wayne Rooney
Verdict – Semi Final

USA – After their performance in the confederations cup many people are expecting the USA to be no pushovers. Don’t be surprised if Capello takes a practical approach to this match and a draw would not be a surprise result.
Star man – Landon Donovan
Verdict – Round of 16

Algeria – Having qualified against the current African cup of nations champions, Egypt, Algeria are no pushovers. This is however, their first appearance in over a quarter of a century.
Star man – Madjid Bougherra
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Slovenia – After their victory in the play offs against Russia, being at the finals is an achievement in its own rights. Expect technical efficiency.
Star man – Robert Koren
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Group D
Germany – The Germans have not produced an outstanding team for a number of years, yet despite that they still made it to the 2002 final and the 2006 semis. They are a big tournament team. They could miss talisman skipper Michael Ballack though.
Star man – Bastian Schweinsteiger
Verdict – Quarter finals

Australia – The Socceroos qualified via the Asian confederation. Narrowly missing out in 2006 on a quarter finals place having lost in controversial circumstances to Italy, they are looking to go one better this time around.
Star man – Tim Cahill
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Serbia – Finishing above France in the qualification, they have a highly technical team and in Antic, they have a wise old coach. They are defensively strong but may struggle to score goals.

Star man – Nemanja Vidic
Verdict – Out in the group stage

Ghana – Possibly the strongest of the African teams with a number of their players performing at the highest levels in Europe. It is quite likely Ghana will be England’s opponents in the round of 16.
Star man – Michael Essien
Verdict – Round of 16

Group E
Netherlands – The first European team to qualify for the tournament. With the likes of Arjen Robben, Wesley Schneider and Robin Van Persie, they have a strong starting 11, maybe not up to the total football team of 1974, but certainly one to pose a threat. Their likely opponents in the round of 16 would be Paraguay or Slovakia so they should have a good run
Star Man – Arjen Robben
Verdict – Quarter Finals

Denmark - This is the best squad the Danish have had for years. With Automatic qualification and a number of players playing for top European clubs, they have a shout. A lot will depend on the game with Cameroon to see who joins the Dutch in the round of 16.
Star Man – Christian Poulsen
Verdict - Out in the Qualifying group

Japan – This is Japan’s 4th consecutive appearance in the Finals. Most of their players play in their domestic league and should not have enough big game experience to have an impact. In Germany last time around their 3 group games produced just one point and this time around its possible the same could happen.
Star man – Shunsuke Nakamura
Verdict – Out in the group stage

Cameroon - The dizzy heights of 1990 where they beat Argentina and almost knocked England out of the Quarter finals seem a long way away. That said, the tournament being in Africa may have a positive impact on the team.
Star man – Samuel Eto'o
Verdict – Round of 16

Group F
Italy - The current world champions. They are notorious slow starters but that should not matter as they have a relatively simple group phase. In Marcello Lippi, they also have a coach with a proven track record.
Star man – Gianluigi Buffon
Verdict – Semi Finals

Paraguay – Although they may not look strong on paper, they enjoyed a successful qualifying campaign and will arrive in South Africa full of confidence. They managed to beat both Brazil and Argentina in qualifying so will not be phased by the big names.
Star man – Paulo da Silva
Verdict – Round of 16

New Zealand – This is the second trip to the world cup for the kiwis, the last time being Spain in 1982. On that occasion they lost all 3 group games and may not fair much better this time around.
Star man - Ryan Nelsen
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Slovakia – Having finished top of their group above the Czech Republic and Poland, they are clearly no pushover. The key match will be against Paraguay but I do not think they will have enough to turn them over.
Star man – Martin Skrtel
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Group G
North Korea – Little is known about this small country and we can only hope that what happens on the field distracts form the politics of home. They could not have had a tougher group though.
Star man – Hong jong-Jo
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Portugal - The last time around, they knocked England out on Penalties even if they are not as strong this time around. Managed by former Manchester United No 2 Carlos Queiroz, the question will be whether he is capable of handling all of the egos on such a big stage.
Star Man – Cristiano Ronaldo
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Ivory Coast – One of the favourites to progress of all African nations. They have enough about them to pose a real threat and if they play to their best neither Brazil nor Portugal will relish playing them.
Star man – Didier Drogba
Verdict – Round of 16

Brazil – 5 times winners and who would bet against them making the final once more? With the no nonsense Dunga building around a solid defence, the Brazilians may not have their normal flare but they certainly have muscle in the team. Huge expectation at home means that if they are not playing on the 11 July, the campaign would have been a failure.
Star Man – Kaka
Verdict – Finalists

Group H
Spain – The current European champions. With a midfield that may see Cesc Fabregas relegated to the bench and a strike force of David Villa and Fernando Torres as well as the solid Casillas, who has over 100 caps already and is still in his 20s, this will be the team to beat.
Star man – David Villa
Verdict – Winners

Switzerland – Having finished top of their qualifying group ahead of Greece and having conceded just 8 goals in 10 games, the Swiss will be a force. Before you consider them ahead of Chile though, please note that they did manage to lose at home to Luxembourg during qualification. They do have a world class coach though in Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Star man – Alexander Frei
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Honduras - They just sneaked into the Finals in the last qualifying spot in the Concacaf Group ahead of Costa Rica on goal difference. This is their first visit to the World Cup in 28 years.

Star man – Wilson Palacios
Verdict – Out in the group stages

Chile – After finishing second in the South American qualification group, Chile will arrive in South Africa full of expectations. Likely to finish second behind Spain, they will likely face Brazil or Portugal in the round of 16.
Star man – Matias Fernandez
Verdict – round of 16

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