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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

World Cup 2006 - First Round Predictions

As everyone may know World Cup is coming up on June 9. Thank God because we all know that one of my friends Jay Bergen has been masturbating on Wayne Rooney’s Jersey for the last 5 days. So please hurry up and play already

Please see bellow my comments about the World Cup.
Stats are important too. But soccer is probably the sport where stats are less important compared to other sports. A very bad team can win over a good team, and in Basketball, Volleyball, American Football, you don´t see these things... Let´s remember last World Cup when Argentina and France were out in the Group Stage. France lost to Senegal in the debut.... amazing.

Group A – Germany, Poland, Ecuador and Costa Rica
Germany will qualify and will win the group. Only a big shock will kick the Germans out. They must be considered one of the favorites to win the World Cup for their tradition and as they host the World Cup. Germany has not a good team. They have good Midfielders and Forwards but their defense is ridiculous in my opinion. But they are at home, with supporters help and they can do it. They reached final in 66, 74, 82, 86, 90, and 2002. So, from 66 to now, we had 10 World Cups and Germany reached the finals in 6 Tournments. More then 50%.
Press say that Poland is the favorite for the 2nd place in this group, but I don´t agree with it. In my personal opinion Ecuador can surprise and Costa Rica too. I don´t see Poland so much better than Ecuador and Costa Rica. Costa Rica is probably the worst team here, but they are FAST team and they will play all in defense going to counter attack. Ecuador has probably their best team in history, which is not superb, but it is good. They won Brazil and Argentina at home in the Qualifiers. That´s fine that during the qualifiers they had the super “friend” of high altitude in their home matches, and we know that play in high altitude cities is very hard to oponents who are not used to that.

I would bet GERMANY to win and ECUADOR to 2nd place

Group B – England, Sweden, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago
England is the favorite here. But let´s remember that Rooney and Owen are still injured. Will they be ok for the World Cup? That´s a big doubt. England has probably one of their best squads for the World Cup. Good defense, and TREMENDOUS midfield with Lampard, Gerard, etc. If Owen and Rooney are recovered then England is one of my favorites to win the WC. Favorite to win the group too.

Trinidad and Tobago is terrible. They will lost all 3 matches. Only a big surprise will give them a point in the World Cup. That´s my opinion.

Sweden and Paraguay will fight for the 2nd place. Sweden is probably a little bit better but Paraguay has one of the best defensive systems of play. Paraguay is known as a team that can defend a lot. Their strikers are not too bad, so they can go faster to attack and score too. Paraguay has Roque Santa Cruz (From Bayern Munchen) as their best striker. Sweden has a strong way of play with fast forwarders too (Larson, Ibrahimovic). Sweden is better and may be the 2nd place, but it won´t be a surprise if they are kicked out by Paraguay.

England 1st Place, Sweden 2nd

Group C – Argentina, Holland, Serbia and Ivory Coast
The most difficult group of World Cup. All 4 teams are good. Even Ivory Coast is not bad. I consider them as the best African Team in this World Cup and let´s remember that some African team always make a surprise in the World Cup. Argentina and Holland can win the World Cup and for this reason they should be considered as favorite to qualify. Serbia can surprise as the team is also good and they won the Group of Spain in the WC Qualifiers. Serbian players are very good and they play a “latin way” of soccer, so different from European way.
Ivory Coast is a big doubt. They are the worst team if compared to all other 3 in this group, but as an example, they would be favorite to qualify if they were in Germany Group. They are better than Ecuador, Costa Rica and Poland. But if they play against Holland, Argentina and Serbia, they can surprise but they are not favorites.

Argentina come from a ridiculous 2002 World Cup and the team now MUST play better. Argies have a great team and can reach the Finals. Messi is still injured but Argentina guarantee he will play the World Cup. Holland always have a good team but Holland is known as a team that play very good but do everything to LOSE the match (hehehe). Normally they have problems between black and white players (two groups) and the relation between players can cause problems to them.

Argentina 1st , Serbia 2nd

Group D – Portugal, Mexico, Angola and Iran
Portugal and México must easily qualify.
I watched Angola in the African Nations Cup (January – February) and I didn´t like it. They played very bad and looked like very poor. Iran is a weak team too.
There is no doubt about the power of Portugal and Mexico in this group. Mexican soccer is growing a lot lately and one curiosity is that Brazil can´t win Mexico. In all the last matches or Mexico won, or they tied. Mexican soccer is rich now and the investments made their soccer better and better. Portugal has good players such as Figo, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Christiano Ronaldo but their best “player” is the coach LUIS FELIPE SCOLARI (Brazilian who won the World Cup 2002 for Brazil and who let Portugal to the final of Euro 2004). Scolari is known as a coach specialized in Cup matches and he can put this into the brain of the players. He does not have a team of 23 players, but a “family” of 23 persons that together can do anything. I won´t be surprised if Portugal reaches the FINALS of this World Cup.

Portugal 1st, Mexico 2nd

Group E – Italy, Czech Rep, USA, Ghana
It´s not an easy group but not hard too. Not easy to explain the situation here, but although I think that Italy and Czech Rep can easily qualify, I think that USA and Ghana can surprise.
Italy is the FAVORITE to win the World Cup in my personal opinion. They are strong in Europe, have a superb defensive way of play and have Midfielders and strikers that can decide a match. Czech Rep is very good too and can win this group. Czech has a fast team, with players with many skills and Pavel Nedved will be their man in the World Cup.

USA is playing their 5th World Cup in a row and they were ok in the last World Cup, winning over Portugal and going to the quarter finals (after beating Mexico in 1/8 round). They have also a good defensive way of play (as the defense is very important in all other American Sports, they do the same for the soccer). And Ghana, well... Ghana is a team that can be a surprise like Senegal was in the last World Cup. Ghana was ok in the African Nations Cup and showed that if their players are in a “good day” they can surprise. Strong players and fast too.

Italy 1st, Czech 2nd (let´s remember that 2nd place of this group will play BRAZIL in the 1/8 round if Brazil wins its Group)

Group F – Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia

Brazil is the big favorite in this group. I don´t consider Brazil favorite for the Championship as in all history JUST ONE TIME one team from other continent won the World Cup in Europe (Brazil won in 1958 in Sweden). But all other World Cups played in Europe was won by an European Country. It is not easy to win it inside Europe. Brazil is too favorite, too favorite, that I believe that they won´t win. And as it was wrotten above, Brazil will have probably a tremendous difficult 1/8 round match against Italy or Czech Rep.]

Ronaldo, Adriano, Kaka, Ronaldinho Gaucho are superb players. Robinho in the bench can decide too... But the defense of Brazil is not that good. Lucio, Juan, Luizão and Chris are not the dream defensive players of Brazilian supporters. The back wingers are very old (Cafu and Roberto Carlos), but I doubt that Parreira (Coach) will line up Cicinho and put Cafu in the bench.
Croatia is the favorite for the 2nd place and like Serbia, they have also a “latin way” of play soccer with many skill players. I like a lot the way Croatia played in the Qualifiers and Prso is a very tall and good player in their forward. But this is also an open group. Japan has a Brazilian coach (Zico), but although press consider them with chances, I think that they are the worst team of the Group. Australia may surprise. Mark Viduka, Kewell and other players who play in English soccer can surprise here. They have a very hard and fast way of play and I won´t be surprised if they qualify.

Brazil 1st, Croatia 2nd

Group G – France, Switzerland, South Korea and Togo
Like Group F, France is the big favorite here to qualify in the 1st place.
France has a good team, but I don´t consider them favorite. Zidane is not the same player of some years ago. Not so fast anymore, and with not so good phisical. Zidane is the guy that can make the difference if he is fit for the World Cup. Henry and Trezeguet are tremendous strikers and Henry is playing superb. But I have some doubt about France´s defense too. They can reach semifinals, quarterfinals, but I don´t bet them in a FINAL. I think that Brazil, Italy and Spain are better than France.

Switzerland qualified after beating Turkey in the playoffs of European qualifiers. Big surprise as Turkey is better. I will be different from all other here, but I don´t see Switzerland qualified in this group. South Korea and Togo will surprise over Switzerland. If I had to bet, I would bet South Korea to qualify as 2nd place. They are a fast team with good system of play, not skill players but they can do it. Some players already play in some good European clubs and now they are more experienced players. Let´s remember that South Korea reached semifinals in 2002 World Cup but they played at home.

Togo can surprise as they are an African team and they will run a lot. But I´ve watched them in African Nations Cup and I didn´t like what I see.

France 1st , South Korea 2nd

Group H – Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia
Spain and Ukraine will qualify here.
Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are very poor teams in my personal opinion. Saudi Arabia is the worst forsure, and Tunisia may surprise although I think it is very difficult.
I like the Spanish team. They have a young team with very good players. I don´t bet them to win the World Cup, but they will be a hard team to be beaten. Spain, like Holland, is a team that always fail in the moment of a win. Ukraine is a team that surprised in the qualifiers but I don´t see them reaching semifinals. Their best player, Schevchenko (from AC Milan) is injured but Ukraine believe that he will be fit for the World Cup.

Spain 1st , Ukraine 2nd