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World Cup Finals Approach

There's a little under four weeks to go to the kick off of the 2010 Finals. The 32 countries have announced their preliminary teams. Leagues around the world have wrapped up. The sense of anticipation is building. Who will win this time?

The Socceroos squad of 31 highlights our injury concerns and selection dilemmas. We've got the experienced players - back for their second finals - but many are injured. Schwarzer has had a great season with Fulham and is uninjured. Neill will anchor the back four, despite having played less than a full season. Wiltshire and Emerton can play at the back. Moore is old. A solid defence, but not an outstanding one. The mid-field is a worry. Grella and Bresciano have injury concerns. Cahill has had another good season, including injury, but is hopefully fit. More so than last time, he'll be the goto man. Kennedy and Kewell have injury concerns. Macdonald is fit, but is yet to make the step up at internationla level. It looks like we'll struggle up front. And you have to wonder whether it's worth bothering with Kewell.

It's not all bad news. Germany have injury concerns too. Their top three goalkeepers are unavailable. Ballack copped a wicked kick to the ankle in the FA Cup final (and weren't Chelsea a bit lucky). Essein is struggling for fitness for Ghana. Serbia also may not have their full strength side.

On the other side of the coin, many coaches have made controversial choices. England's, Argentina's and Brazil's sides all caused comment, more for the players left out than anything else. No Ronaldinho is a brave call by Dunga.

Who will win? No idea. Spain must be a contender after finalling breaking their hoodoo by winning Euro 2008. Italy will be up there. The home team, South Africa, seem to have little chance. Argentina and Brazil must contend with their coaches, both former players, with interesting coaching styles. England have a fortunate draw and a good side with few injury worries. You have to wonder if the Terry / Bridge clash will leave an impact. This is probably one of the more open Finals series for a while.

The outdoor viewing areas are being prepared in Sydney. Should be worth a look. We've got a new big screen TV and a PVR which will help. And the club pub should be packed again.

Heightening interest is the lodging of our "bid book" with FIFA last week. We will find out in December is Australia will host a World Cup in 2018 or 2022 in December.

Bring it on.


Germany have confirmed that their captain Michael Ballack will miss the World Cup Finals as a result of the injury he sustained in the FA Cup Final.