Published: June 9th 2006June 9th 2006
Tough to deny the host nation.
A couple of weeks ago as I read through an ESPN article handicapping the World Cup, it occured to me that a tournament of this magnitude (a true GLOBAL tournament) can only be analyzed in one way: THE WOMEN.
That´s right, I SAID it. Having "gotten around" a bit this past year, I feel I am quite up to speed on recent "developments" in most World Cup countries, so allow me to make you some money (well, that is if you decide to join Sportsbook.com through my site
) and predict the WHOLE Cup, from beginning to end, based on each COUNTRY´S "cups". ALL puns are intended, see if you can catch them all. Group A:
GERMANY, COSTA RICA, ECUADOR, POLAND
Commentary: Tough to deny the host nation (as I learned shortly after arriving at Inky´s flat), so Germany and it´s blondes should blow all comers away early on.
I´m going to go out on a limb and call myself an expert on Ecuador play and give them a slight edge over the Polish princesses based on strong formations, passion and aggressiveness.
As for Costa Rica, I´ve heard wonderful things, but I also understand they can be
Always be prepared for dirty play.
bought, and with all the shadiness in soccer, that should be enough to keep them out of the 2nd round.
2nd round qualifiers: GERMANY, ECUADOR Group B:
ENGLAND, PARAGUAY, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, SWEDEN
Commentary: This is an excellent time to mention that my analysis is based on my personal experience with these countries´natives, not necessarily the full body of work, if you will. So if you have a different opinion than me, start your own freakin´blog.
Having said that, I´m a sucker for the English accent and the light-colored eyes, and the "birds" flat-out give their all to 10k. When you talk about England, you´re talking about quick strikes, dirty play ("change to Baker street" IS an English term), and going very deep into the Cup.
As for the other team, are you kidding me? Have you ever met a Swede before? Do I even need to elaborate?
2nd round qualifiers: ENGLAND, SWEDEN Group C:
ARGENTINA, IVORY COAST, SERBIA & MONTENEGRO, NETHERLANDS
Commentary: Despite the ones in Miami being spoiled little brats for the most part, there´s no denying Argentina as a country well-known for its all-you-can-eat, grade A quality
Notable omission, unfortunately for all of us in Germany.
meat. The team is world-renowned for its attitude and heading and most experts agree that they´re long overdue for a trip DEEP into this competition.
From there, it´s a tough call, but I have to give the edge to the Dutch squad, barely topping the Serbians based on the fact that their offense is more wide-open, whereas the Serbians conservative approach usually leaves their fans wondering what might have been.
2nd round qualifiers: ARGENTINA, NETHERLANDS Group D:
MEXICO, IRAN, ANGOLA, PORTUGAL
Commentary: Having just ended a 2-week path of destruction through Portugal, I´m conflicted with this group. On one hand, Team Portugal showed promise at times, though several scoring threats were eventually nullified by offsides infractions. On the other hand, this IS the country that spawned perennial favorite Brazil´s talent, and with the exception of Mexico, the rest of the group lacks experience and depth.
Mexico gets through on the strength of their midfield play, though poor execution on their free kicks might come back to haunt them in the 2nd round.
2nd round qualifiers: MEXICO, PORTUGAL Group E:
ITALY, GHANA, USA, CZECH REPUBLIC
Commentary: WOW. The Italians are known for
Excellent team chemistry.
their style and finesse, plus they´ve been known to fix the result from time to time. Strong belief in family ties makes for a strong sense of team.
Americans are a wild card, especially with me having vast experience in my home country. You never know what you´re going to get, though you can rest assured that they´ve done everything in their power to enhance their chances to strike.
Anyone who´s been to Prague knows about their strong legs and athleticism, and no one´s left the fairytale town without saying "Czech, please" and falling in love with a princess.
In the end, the Czechs are too strong to turn away, and no American would dare leave Germany without scoring, so expect Italy to falter due to bad timing and too much time spent on their own side of the field.
2nd round qualifiers: USA, CZECH REPUBLIC Group F:
BRAZIL, CROATIA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN
Commentary: Brazil is the perennial powerhouse in any tournament of this caliber. The fire, the constant scoring threats and the creativity on offense makes Brazil the clear favorite early on.
Croatia is another strong option in this group, but similar
Australian for Hot.
to Serbia, they tend to disappoint due to conservative play, too often content with a tie instead of a risky blowout.
Australia plays with reckless abandon, taking many chances and gets around the field of play with the best of them. Well-travelled and physical, the socceroos are always a strong option.
Japan has many niche fans tuning into Tokyo, and everyone likes a piece of raw fish for dinner, but in a group of this caliber the physicality and sheer athleticism of the rest of the group make for a bad draw, which means an early finish for the Asian sensations.
2nd round qualifiers: BRAZIL, AUSTRALIA Group G:
FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, KOREA REPUBLIC, TOGO
Commentary: If you have any doubt as to who the favorite is in this group, take one trip to the French Riviera and you´ll soon be convinced. The French have a sexy style of play, with a tight midfield game, and a balanced attack offering an array of scoring options. Joining them in the 2nd round will be 2002 semifinalist, Korea Republic, because every global romp needs a little Asian in it.
2nd round qualifiers: FRANCE, KOREA REPUBLIC Group H:
SPAIN, UKRAINE, TUNISIA, SAUDI ARABIA
Spain´s attitude and all-out attack will propel them to the 2nd round, though they have been known to disappoint based on expectations in the past. Still, the Spaniards are not afraid to get into an offensive showdown, going blow for blow when necessary. With Estonia failing to qualify again (they will be semifinalists when they finally do), I put Ukraine in the round of 16 as a worthy replacement. More and more fans are learning about the appeal of the Eastern European talent pool, going as far as recruiting superstars straight out of these countries for spots on their home squad.
2nd round qualifiers: SPAIN, UKRAINE
So there you have your 16 qualifiers for the 2nd round. Put your bets in
. Book your flights accordingly. Pull the keeper. Aim for the goal.
Round 2 predictions to follow shortly. Enjoy the action.