Monday, June 12, 2006

DEF Jam

I'm a little behind on the previews, so I'll give it to you quick and dirty. I don't want to be dishonest and base my predictions on the matches already played, so I'll go with the picks I made in a pool with some friends.

Group D

1. Mexico
2. Portugal
3. Angola
4. Iran

Group E

1. Italy
2. Czech Republic
3. USA
4. Ghana

Group F

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

Japan beating Australia hurts, and I'm now inclined to believe that Iran will beat out Angola for 3rd, but that's how it is with prognostication.

An interesting, quasi-statistical note: Of 10 matches played so far, 23 goals have been scored, meaning the tournament is on pace for 147 goals, down about 15 from last time around.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Group B Preview

I don't have a snappy opening, so I'll get right into it.

England:
Rankings: 10th (FIFA), 4th (ELO), 5th (Ziaian), 4th (AQB)
Number of appearances (including 2006): 12
Best result: Champions (1966)

Paraguay:
Rankings: 33rd (FIFA), 29th (ELO), 21st (Ziaian), 22nd (AQB)
Number of appearances: 7
Best result: 2nd round (1986, 1998, 2002)

Sweden:
Rankings: 16th (FIFA), 12th (ELO), 11th (Ziaian), 27th (AQB)
Number of appearances: 11
Best result: Runners up (1958)

Trinidad and Tobago:
Rankings: 47th (FIFA), 67th (ELO), 56th (Ziaian), 67th (AQB)
Number of apperances: 1st
Best result: N/A

I don't think I am being unfair in expecting T&T's appearance at Germany 2006 to be a short one. I would not be surprised if they lose all three matches without scoring, like Canada did in 1986, although perhaps I am bitter because the Canucks failed to qualify. In any case, I'm looking for a three horse race. Paraguay is the lowest ranked of the three, while England might be suffering with the injury to Wayne Rooney, but I think it is Sweden that will falter.

Predicted order of finish:
1. England
2. Paraguay
3. Sweden
4. Trinidad & Tobago

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Group C Preview



Who said I had to go in order?

I like to keep my Dutch reading skills somewhat sharp so from time to time I head over to the Dutch Google News site to practice. This morning, there was a story about a ban on leeuwenhose ("lion pants"), a promotion by Bavaria, a Dutch beer company. These had been banned from earlier Dutch national matches so as not to offend title sponsor Heineken, but the ban was lifted for the upcoming friendlies, today (against Mexico, a 2-1 victory for the oranje), and on June 4th. The best line was found in the last paragraph:
Fans zoals de 18-jarige Martijn Willeboer stonden dan ook letterlijk in hun onderbroek te supporteren voor Robben en co. De KNVB wordt gesponsord door concurrent Heineken en daarom wil de Voetbalbond geen reclame voor Bavaria in het stadion.

For some who had not come prepared, they were forced to sit through the match in their underwear.

Now, without further ado, the preview.

Argentina:
Rankings: 9th (FIFA), 8th (ELO), 7th (Ziaian), 8th (AQB)
Key player: Juan Roman Riquelme

Netherlands:
Rankings: 3rd (FIFA), 2nd (ELO), 3rd (Ziaian), 6th (AQB)
Key player: Ruud van Nistelrooy

Serbia and Montenegro:
Rankings: 44th (FIFA), 26th (ELO), 18th (Ziaian), 25th (AQB)
Key player: Dejan Stankovic

Cote d'Ivoire:
Rankings: 33rd (FIFA), 30th (ELO), 32nd (Ziaian), 18th (AQB)
Key player: Didier Drogba

A lot of people have called this group the "group of death" or at the very least, one of the toughest groups in the tournament. And my team (Netherlands) will have to work hard to advance. But at the same time, this is a two-tiered group, with Netherlands and Argentina occupying the upper and Serbia and Cote d'Ivoire the lower. Either of these teams will likely need to beat one of the more powerful sides, and I don't expect that to happen. Argentina is always (well, usually) strong, and Holland will wait until the stakes are higher before choking.

My order of finish goes:
1. Holland
2. Argentina
3. Serbia and Montenegro
4. Cote d'Ivoire