Stock Up: Spain
It's not like I'm covering any new or exciting ground here by touting the favorites , but hold cow are they good. They went to France, a place where they haven't won in my lifetime, and calmly strolled out with a 2-0 win while not facing a shot on goal. Graham Hunter on the World Football Daily Podcast on Wednesday got across the ludicrous amount of talent on this roster. Like Canada in hockey, Spain could put a contender together with the players they are going to leave in Iberia this summer. They have at least of three of everything. For instance, Victor Valdes, who has done a bang-up job in goal for Barca this season, will probably not be one of the three keepers going to South Africa, but he would start for Germany, England, or Argentina. Speaking of our Teutonic friends...
Stock Down: Germany
The standard caveat with Germany is that they never look good in friendlies, they are never the sexy pick to do well, and then they usually exceed expectations. That said, they have problems. First of all, they have the problem for which their fans have always mocked England: a disaster between the sticks. What, pray tell, is Rene Adler doing here?
And that was only one of his blunders on Wednesday. Second, the coach, Jogi Loew, is feuding with the DFB over his contract. Technically speaking, his contract will expire on June 30, which is during the tournament. No one could have thought that little detail through? (Insert standard "are they taking management lessons from the French?" joke here.) Third, and most importantly, Germany seems stuck between generations, not unlike France. On the one hand, you have the Ballack-Klose-Friedrich-Frings generation that took Germany to finals in 2002 and 2008. On the other hand, you have a pile of promising young players who will form the next generation of top German players - Muller, Ozil, Khedira, Kroos, and Taschi - who have been winning junior tournaments. In the middle is a mostly disappointing generation that has produced Mertesacker, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, and a bunch of disappointments. In short, this team doesn't look like it is in its prime.
Stock Up: Uruguay
You won't find many better combos up front than Forlan and Suarez. Winning 3-1 in Switzerland is no joke, especially with the defense that the Swiss typically deploy. My dark horse for the tournament is Chile, not necessarily to win the thing, but to make a run to the quarters. With Chile's team taking a break for obvious reasons, I need to tout someone else. Why not the country that won the first World Cup?
Stock Down: South Africa
Let's just say that it's not just the stadia that need some work.