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Saturday, December 10, 2005

"It's not necessarily the best team which wins. If it were, then Brazil would have won the World Cup 14 times."

Well, if TDH's groups for the World Cup represented the biggest revenue draw, then FIFA hasn't done so well - five of the seeds ended up with none of the teams from TDH's proposed groups. And if you're looking for competitive football - gasp! - things are also a bit uneven.

The main question is not who'll win the groups but who'll go through to the next round. With the two top places to choose from, Germany looks to have a walkover against Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador. Spain's chances of progressing versus Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia must be close to 100 percent. England hardly face a test with Paraguay, Trinidad and Sweden. Mexico may expect Portugal to qualify with them, but they shouldn't have much trouble with Angola and Iran. Brazil won't even break a sweat against Croatia, Australia and Japan. Even lowly France have it pretty easy with Switzerland, South Korea and Togo - in any case, don't expect high quality matches here.

Only two groups, C and E, are wide-open. Ivory Coast will probably go last in Group C, but where Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia & Montenegro finish is anyone's guess. Ghana may fancy its chances of upsetting the US, which doesn't have a good answer to Essien in midfield, but Italy and the Czech Republic are by no means unbeatable, either.

In the bigger picture, Brazil seem to have a clear path to the semi-finals. Assuming they win Group F, they'll play the second-place team out of Italy, Ghana, the US and the Czech Republic. That won't be a cakewalk, but it's unlikely to result in a Brazilian loss. In the quarter-finals, perversely, things may even get easier. It'll either be the winner of Group G (Spain or maybe Ukraine) or the runner-up in Group F (likely to be Switzerland or South Korea). In other words, the chance that Brazil will face another seed before the last four is relatively low. The chance that they'll face another form team - e.g. England, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany - is zero.

That's not to say TDH will dare to miss a single minute of the action. Without uneven match-ups, you can't have upsets - and upsets do happen, as the last tournament showed.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

ok, this italy team aren't great. But right now we're building well. Don't forget that they totally outclassed a near full-strength dutch side in a recent game. With Lippi, unlike Trap, cognizant of the importance to this team of playing through Pirlo with Gattuso alongside him, Italy will be better than last time. The problem is that Gila is looking a bit of form at the moment - Inzaghi was preferred to him against Schalke. Luca Toni, on the other hand...

2:51 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Definitely agree on Italy. Not to knock Trap, but Lippi is a bit cooler and more calculating. And the team is less ego-heavy than last time, if only because their egos took a blow in Korea. I expect better things. Woe to the US....

4:17 PM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

btw - did anyone see this quote from the US of A coach?

"So we have our hands full but we eagerly look forward to the competition. Italy I always think about because I'm of Italian heritage and my grandparents were born in Italy so that's always nice in terms of your heritage."

what a cumbersome turn of phrase.

7:38 PM  

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