Wednesday, June 07, 2006

FIFA 2006 World Cup Preview and Predictions #3

The 2006 World Cup starts this Friday in Munich, Germany. This week I will be giving my preview to the tournament and my predictions for the group phases and for the rest of the tournament. Here are Group E & Group F.

Group E
Czech Republic

This is the 2006 World Cup Group of Death. Any of these teams would be able to make an impact on this tournament, unfortunately, they are going to beat each other up and only two will get out alive.

The Czech Republic have the chance to really go far in the tournament, they have two playmakers, Pavel Nedved and Tomas Rosicky, who will guide their offensive movement towards the gigantic 6’7” Jan Koller. Their goal will be protected by Peter Cech, who commanded the goal for EPL Champion Chelsea. If their offense gets going, they will sweep the USA and Ghana aside and should only be challenged by Italy.

Italy will advance, depending on where the players are thinking. The Serie A is currently in turmoil over the match fixing scandal that seems to be ready to sink Juventus and possibly several other clubs and players. If the players can get their minds focused on the task at hand, they should be able to do well. If their focus is not on the tournament, they won’t get out of the 1st Round. They have the talent; Buffon, Nesta, Inzaghi, Del Piero, Totti and so on. They show up, they go through to the second round. Their minds wander and they go home.

The USA made the quarter finals in 2002. They have been pretty impressive in racking up victories over the last couple of years, winning the 2005 Gold Cup and winning the CONCACAF regional. They have no problems in goalkeeping, as Kasey Keller is still one of the best keepers in the world. Their defense has some question marks, but should still be tough to break. Their offense is what leads me to feel that they will not advance out of the group stage. If Donovan, Renya, Dempsey, Convey and O’Brien in any form cannot get the ball into their forwards for chances on goal, Bruce Almighty’s team will be home before the 26th of June. Brian McBride will score goals if he gets service. Eddie Johnson, if he has regained his confidence, might, but he will need great service. Brian Ching most likely won’t see much playing time. Josh Wolff…not certain Bruce will use him for anything other than a substitute. This team is like a light switch. When they are on, man are they on. If they are off, fuhgedaboutit.

Ghana, with the exception of Michael Essian, doesn’t have too many known players. They will be tough as they are a composed side and play well. I don’t see them getting the results against Italy or the Czech Republic.
Prediction: Czech Republic & Italy

Group F
1. Brazil
2. Japan
3. Australia
4. Croatia

Brazil…not much needs to be said. They play the beautiful game. They are soccer poets, moving gracefully and stylish up and down the pitch. Ok, now that I have the dribble out of the way, I feel that they are one of the most talented clubs in the tournament. They will win their group, but I think the fact that they have so much talent and they want to play all of it at once, might cause a problem here and there down the road. They win the group, hands down.

Japan are crawling, at best, into the tournament and will probably be carried out. They took a 2-0 lead against a lame Germany and let the Germans score 2 goals and get a draw. They will be punished for their lack of composure by Brazil and will be rudely welcomed to Australia, the newest member of the Asian Region. Croatia will put up a good fight against Brazil and lose. They will beat Japan, and most likely draw with Australia. Australia will match the same record, but I think that they go through to the second round based on goals. Australia essentially has a team of EPL players and other European based players. Their match against Croatia should be an entertaining affair.
Prediction: Brazil & Australia


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