Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Preview - Group D

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

If you have read this page before - you know where my attention lies tomorrow. Group D kicks off tomorrow - and with it, the hopes and dreams of Lusitanos around the world. DJames, this is the one you have to pay attention to, if you want to make nice with the in-laws.

Portugal (ranked 7th by FIFA) - we don't want to talk about Euro 2004 anymore. Portugal goes into this tournament believing they have a chance to win - they are as good as anyone in the field. My man Luis Figo leads the team in the quest for the World Cup in what will undoubtedly be his last international appearance. Cristiano Ronaldo looks to make his mark on tournament and solidify himself as one of the truly great young players in the game.

While Ricardo is the weakest link in goal - Portugal has everything it takes to go to the final - they will miss Jorge Andrade, who is out with an injury, but the defence is solid - led in the middle by Ricardo Carvalho. Fernando Meira, who had a very good year in the German league, is expected to fill in Andrade; a combination of Paulo Ferreira, Miguel, and Nuno Valente will make up the other two spots. They have all had international experience and match up with anyone.

Portugal will play with 5 midfielders - with Deco (who may be doubtful for tomorrow's game vs. Angola) leading the charge up the middle. Figo and Ronaldo will provide the attack from the flanks - with Costinha, Maniche and/or Petit watching the back. Up front, Azorean-born (that's island boy who grew up close to my family) Pauleta will be the lone striker. In what is certainly Figo's last shot - Portugal comes up big in the tournament...and my man leaves a mark on this tournament. They will benefit from being in a pretty weak group and should win three games and the group.

Mexico (ranked 4th by FIFA) - if you have been following the World Cup preview here - you know how I feel about teams from CONCACAF. While Mexico was seeded, it was based on a FIFA ranking - one that was achieved by playing the likes of Jamaica, Canada and other weak sisters in the Caribbean. Mexico have some players of note who play in Spain - but for the most part, they aren't in the class of the top European and South American teams; witnessed by a number of disappointing results in international tournaments.

Mexico has enough to get to the round of 16 - and while their supporters are expecting a final four finish, I can't see them beating the likes of Argentina or Holland in the round of 16. Mexico's number 4 ranking will be put to the test - there won't be a Jamaica or Canada for them to beat up on here.

Iran (ranked 23rd by FIFA) - the sexy pick in the group. Iran has been on the rise for a while - they have a number of players who play in the German they are being looked at as a side with the potential to shock. I can't see it though - they haven't played anyone of real consequence, so I have some questions about their ranking. Iran will do their best to be competitive, and may score a few goals in the tournament...but all they can realistically expect is a win against Angola.

Angola (ranked 57th by FIFA) - they probably shouldn't be in the tournament, but they pulled off a couple of upsets in the African qualifier. A number of Angola's players play in the Portuguese 2nd Division (and a couple of them are Portuguese-born). The experts are predicting a quick exit for Angola, three losses and a quick trip home. While I won't argue that, I expect them to play Portugal tough tomorrow; their friendlies have been spirited and pretty physical matches.

Winner - Portugal, clearly the best side in the group - no reason why they shouldn't. Though we'll be looking for Hazel Karma in the round of 16 and beyond.

2nd Place - Mexico, while I don't think they are an upper echelon team - they are definitely better than Iran and Angola.

Key game - if there is one in this group - it will be Iran and Mexico on Sunday afternoon. If Iran has any hope of advancing to the knockout stages - they will need a win, or at least a tie against Mexico; too much to ask for from Iran though.

Sunday's schedule - and my picks

Serbia & Montenegro 0 - 2 Netherlands- while the Serbs have the best group of defenders in the tournament, they don't have enough up front. Expect the orange wave to apply pressure all afternoon and win this one.

Mexico 2 - 1 Iran - many are cautioning Portugal and Mexico to beware of Iran. The Mexicans know they have to get off to a fast start if they have any hope of winning this group.

Angola 0 - 3 Portugal - do I really have to explain?

That's about it for tonight gang - back to the game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Have a great one peeps!

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world - hope the signing session went well too!

Song of the Night on Hazelpeeps - for the boys as they embark on their journey to greatness, the incomporable Amalia Rodrigues. Dudes, if you don't older classic music mixed with poetry, you probably won't get Amalia...but it is heart and soul music - like nothing you have ever heard, or will ever hear again.

Havemos D'Ir A Viana - Amaila

Si ou meu sangue nao m'engana
Como engana a fantasia
Havemos d'ir a Viana
O meu amor d'algum dia
O meu amor d'algum dia
Havemos d'ir a Viana
Si ou meu sangue nao m'engana
Havemos d'ir a Viana

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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