Thursday, June 08, 2006

FIFA 2006 World Cup Preview and Predictions #4

The 2006 World Cup starts tomorrow 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 G & Group H.

Group G
1. France
2. Togo
3. Switzerland
4. South Korea

The French have probably the biggest chip on their shoulder of all 32 teams coming into the tournament. Having won their first World Cup in 1998, only to go out in the first round in 2002, the French are determined to prove that they are indeed a global power. Several of their players will indeed have the spotlight on them, namely Zidane and Henry. Zidane came out of international retirement to rescue the French from Qualify hell and now lead them as Capitan. He will retire from playing football all together after the tournament is over. Henry will be out to prove that his Superhero like form for Arsenal is capable on the global stage. France took a hit just last night as Djibril Cisse broke his leg and has been ruled out of the tournament. This isn't anything close to Wayne Rooney being put on the shelf, as France still has Henry and Saha, but this will change late game tactics for their manager, Raymond Domenech. France will make the 2nd round, no question this time.

Togo is making their first ever trip to the World Cup, and it will be a very quick 3 matches and out for them. Qualifying for their first time is reward enough for them.

Switzerland have been to the World Cup finals before, 1994 in the USA being their last trip and they should give a good showing this time around. Alexander Frei should be able to provide some goals for the Swiss, and Phillipe Senderos should be able to provide a good showing for the Swiss defense. I don't see this young team getting out of the group though.

South Korea, 2002's co-host and Semi-Finalist, return to the World Cup with another Dutch coach, Dick Advocaat. They will be able to ride Park Ji-Sung, Lee Young-Pyo to at least 2 victories and on to the 2nd round. The South Koreans will be out to prove that their 4th place finish in 2002 was no fluke and that they are at the Asian power that FIFA has been praying for.
Predictions: France & South Korea

Group H
1. Spain
2. Tunisia
3. Ukraine
4. Saudi Arabia

Spain were given a very easy group to move out of. Tunisia has an experienced side, but having to match up against European heavyweights Spain and Ukraine doesn't bode well for Tunisia getting its first trip out of the First Round. Saudi Arabia are in a similar situation, as they too will have little chance of getting through to the second round against the two European clubs.

That leaves us with Spain and the Ukraine. The Ukraine, led by Chelsea super striker Andriy Schevchenko are in the World Cup for the first time. They won their European qualifying group, and was the first European team to qualify for the World Cup, aside from Germany which qualified as hosts. They have a strong offense and should be able to take second place in this group and move into the second round with ease.

Spain have been to many a World Cup and as the seeded team in this group, they should win the group and move onto the second round. Led by Raul, Iker Casillas, Francesc "Cesc" Fabregas and Jose Antonio Reyes, they should be able to score impressive wins in their group, but the second round is about all they will see of this tournament, Quarter Finals if they are lucky.
Predictions: Spain & Ukraine


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