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Blues Get World Cup Fever
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Many of you will be overwhelmed with excitement as the World Cup kicks off today. The non-sporting fans are put on hold for a month as we prepare to watch 64 games of the greatest competition on Earth.

This is football heaven that we only get every four years, with the increased number of Everton players involved, each day until July 11th football comes first. It is hard to explain to people who don't have an interest in the World Cup why we spend nearly all of our time watching 690 men participate in a football tournament even though England haven't won it for forty four years.

Most of you will know the Everton players involved in the World Cup but here is how I think they will fair in the Rainbow Nation. This could also give you an idea of whether you have a chance in your World Cup sweeps.

Just to remind you, we have six Everton players in the World Cup and they are Steven Pienaar, Tim Howard, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Tim Cahill, Johnny Heitinga and Joseph Yobo. So here is a run through of how they will do individually and as a country. Feel free to leave your own opinion at the bottom of the page.

Steven Pienaar: South Africa expects Pienaar to deliver and they sincerely hope that that he does or I don't believe that Bafana Bafana can progress past the groups. They are not in the hardest of groups and there seems to be a real sense optimism surrounding the team. Although they do lack big-game players and experience, with the country behind them they can make it out of the group.

The teams that they have to play in the group are France, Uruguay and Mexico. The favourites to progress through the group are France and Uruguay but an ageing France had an extremely poor qualifying campaign and Uruguay's talisman Diego Forlan will find it hard to single handily take his country into the last 16.

Mexico is also not one to be forgotten as they gave England an extremely competitive friendly match with creative players like Giovanni dos Santos. I predict that South Africa will come very close to progressing past the group stages but the other nations who have big game players like Thierry Henry, Diego Forlan and Rafael Marquez will be too good.

First Two Games: South Africa vs Mexico Fri 11 June 15.00 (ITV), South Africa vs Uruguay Wed 16 June 19.30 (BBC)                   

Tim Howard: Even though the whole of the American nation hasn't taken to the sport, they do have a real chance of going places in this competition and behind England, they are favourites to make it to the last sixteen. England are expected to and probably will dominate this group but as long as USA beat Algeria and Slovenia, we will be seeing more of our goalkeeping dynamo.

If, as expected, they get through then they are likely to play potential Group D winners Germany. Algeria made it to the semi-final of the Africa Cup of Nations so they are a team to look out for. Slovenia will make USA work but they should come through that match unscathed. I predict that they will come second in the group and be beaten by Germany in the last sixteen which is no disrespect to a country who tend to be shouting for touchdowns more than a thirty yard goal.

First Two Games: England vs USA Sat 12 June 19.30 (ITV), Slovenia vs USA Fri 18 June 15.00 (BBC)

Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Joseph Yobo: Their country is 21st in the World and has a real chance of progressing through to the last 16. I believe their main opposition is Greece as I expect Argentina to win the group. Kim Jong-Il is likely to tell the North Koreans at home that his country won the World Cup no matter how well they do. Yakubu and Yobo will play a vital role in their World Cup chances and Yakubu will most likely partner Obafemi Martins upfront.

They could play South Africa if they qualify as group winners or South Africa do. Greece have players like Sortios Kirgiakos who ended Maroune Fellaini's season but they seem to be extremely inconsistent and a totally different team to the one that won Euro 2004. It is hard to know what to expect of North Korea but I am sure Nigeria will be finish that game on top.

I predict that Nigeria will progress through the group stages in second place and will win their last sixteen match against the winners of group A but will go no further. I believe that with Didier Drogba close to being ruled out of the World Cup, Nigeria will progress the furthest out of the African Nations. 

First Two Games: Argentina vs Nigeria Sat 12 June 15.00 (BBC), Greece vs Nigeria Thurs 17 June 15.00 (BBC)

Tim Cahill: The Socceroos made it to the last sixteen in Germany four years ago where they were beaten by the eventual winners, Italy. Australia definitely has the winning mentality necessary to go far in this tournament.

Tim Cahill has the players around him to qualify for the Round of 16 in Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill. To get through, they have to play against Germany, Ghana and Serbia. Germany are obvious favourites to top the group and they probably will. However, I believe Australia can beat Ghana and Nemanja Vidic's Serbia to get to the last sixteen.

If this happens, Tim Cahill will more than likely play England in the last sixteen so I will leave it up to you whether you want your country or your club player to progress.

First Two Games: Germany vs Australia Sun 13 June 19.30 (ITV), Ghana vs Australia Sat 19 June 15.00 (BBC)

Johnny Heitinga: We all know how well Johnny can play and I hope he can emulate this form for his country as he has started four of their international friendlies this year.

The Netherlands always do well in the group stages of the competition but the thing that always seems to let them down is playing as a team. At recent competitions, there has been conflict within the Dutch camp that has ruined their World Cup chances.

He will be surrounded by an array of talent such as Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben. If they get their act together, Holland can go all the way in this competition. They will have to face a creative Japan that we have watched England play, Samuel Eto's Cameroon and a strong Denmark. I predict hey will top their group and make it to the semi finals.

First Two Games:  Holland vs Denmark Mon 14 June 12.30 (ITV), Holland vs Japan Sat 19 June 13.30 (ITV)

Comments about Blues Get World Cup Fever
we have 7 players at the world cup, we signed that keeper whos no1 for his country, cant spell his name. do i get a prize for pointing this out lol
kirk, ellesmere port, 10:27 PM 13/06/2010
great article. don't worry. i made the same mistake as you and thought it was north korea. they are both awful anyway
richie, L1, 12:48 PM 13/06/2010
harry, blue side of merseyside, 8:48 AM 13/06/2010
glad that we don't have any everton players in the england squad. stops you thinking about the disappointment of our country reading this. i can see heitinga lift the trophy
matty h, Crosby, 8:30 AM 13/06/2010
Nigeria have South Korea (Rep. of Korea) in their group, not north Korea (Korea DPR). S.Korea are no great shakes but should provide more of a challenge than N. Korea would.
Jay, Wavertree, 2:56 AM 13/06/2010
Just seen Nigeria today and was really dissapointed. It looked like they played for a defeat against Argentina. MESSI FOR EVERTON. coyb
Caino, Toxteth, 12:27 AM 13/06/2010
do hate the World Cup but this has got me quite interested. Will be looking out for the Everton players now and gives me a reason to not support England
Peter, Walton, 12:20 PM 12/06/2010
Would be supporting England if bainsey was in. Think Holland have got a chance of going all te wasy if they sort themselves out
JT, Halewood, 9:14 AM 12/06/2010
World cup! Sounds like am getting add off by a swarm of bees, not for me lad rather suck a fart out me birds arse!
Bowlhead, E.Port, 10:28 PM 11/06/2010
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