A minor point, but it should be noted. You won’t need to know who Cristiano Ronaldo is for the 2010 World Cup. Portugal probably will not qualify.
Spain – The same team returns that won Euro 2008. Their forwards score goals, and their Barcelona-based midfield provides topflight service. Iker Casillas is no slouch in goal. Different coach, but they should not miss much from Aragones, besides his darling opinions about black people.
Argentina – They have the best player in the world, Leo Messi, the best defensive midfielder in the world, Javier Mascherano and a number of talented youngsters, such as Sergio Aguero. Their manager knows what it takes to win. Argentina did lose 6-1 to Boliva, but they don’t play the World Cup at extreme altitude after flying halfway across the world.
Italy – Known for their catenaccio style, Italy is often cynical. Sometimes they do not wake until the knockout stages, but they are always a danger no matter how decrepit they look, as they showed in 2006. Younger players, such as Rossi, Chiellini and De Rossi are assuming leadership roles. Mario Balotelli could be a monster by then.
Netherlands – They have the talent to be ruthlessly effective going forward. They are 5-0 so far in qualifying, outscoring opponents 12-1. They were arguably the most impressive team in Euro 2008, before their extra-time collapse against Russia. If Robben and Van Persie can stay healthy, they can beat anyone.
Germany – What they miss in talent, they make up for in cohesion. They play effective German soccer. They have made at least the semifinals in three of the past four major tournaments. Players like Ballack, Podolski and Schweinsteiger go incredible hulk when they throw in a German shirt.