Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My World Cup Preview (Part 2)

I'm simply overwhelmed by the response to my World Cup preview, and I'll comment when I can. I thought of one other thing I wanted to do, and since I've been challenged, I'll also make a couple predictions.

USA results:
I think we get a tie against one of Italy and CR and lose to the other. I think we narrowly beat Ghana to finish with 4 points and fail to advance on goal differential because CR and Italy score more than we do or Ghana pulls a big upset to throw the whole group into turmoil.

World Cup Champion:
I'd take Italy, but they could struggle advancing out of a tough group. The same is true of the Netherlands. That also reminds me that I overlooked France a little because of the age of some key players, but they should advance easily out of a patsy group. Brazil is the easy choice. Germany is attractive since they are the host, but they have a serious problem if Ballack's not healthy. So I'm taking Italy despite some health concerns there as well.

Matches to watch:
Obviously, as the Cup progresses, certain games will rise or fall in significance. Still, these matches would be on just about any football fan's list:
  • Germany:Costa Rica (6/9—Friday!): just because it's the opener with the host country
  • England:Sweden (6/20): classic matchup of two nations with rich history
  • Netherlands:Argentina (6/21): possibly the best matchup of the group stage; who could forget their 1998 quarterfinal matchup with red cards on both teams, won by Dennis Bergkamp on an 89th minute, absolutely ridiculous golazo?
  • Italy:Czech Republic:USA: The three matches played between these three teams pit a historic world power, some world-class talent, and an upstart team-oriented nation in a complete free-for-all, and no one knows what will come out of it. I think the world is beginning to realize that the USA is already pretty good and still has terrific potential for growth as a global soccer power. This should add to the intrigue of this group.
Narrowly missing the cut:
  • Brazil:Croatia (6/13)
  • Spain:Ukraine (6/14)

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