Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Preview - Group F

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

I normally do the Hazies on Monday; but with my man DJames in need of more World Cup info, tonight we do Group F - the easiest group to breakdown. Group F is sums up this year's World Cup - Brazil and everyone else.

Brazil (ranked 1st by FIFA) - if you have read anything on the World Cup, I don't have to tell you about Brazil. Ronaldinho, undoubtedly the world's best player, will lead a team of world all-stars into the tournament. The strikeforce of Ronaldo (no he's not fat, just stocky) and Adriano, is head and shoulders above anyone else. Ronaldinho and Kaka, two of the best playmaking midfielders in the world, are special talents - good enough to beat you one on one (or two, or three) and score, and accurate enough to breakdown defences with pinpoint passing - they will shred most of the defences they play in the tournament. The only problem from Brazil is their defence; in Cafu and Roberto Carlos they have two players who are past their prime and can be beaten on the rush with speed. Their goalkeeper Dida had an indifferent year for A.C. Milan and has been known to make bad choices challenging crosses and corner kicks.

Having said all of that, Brazil is still the favourite to win the tournament and should cruise through this group with ease.

Croatia (ranked 23rd by FIFA) - they come into the tournament as a bit of an unknown; in recent tournaments they have been defensive minded - the infamous saying "playing not to lose" - but they come into this tournament promising a team more reminiscent of the great Croat teams of the 90's that featured Suker and Boban. Their defence was solid in qualifying for the tournament, opting for a quick counter-attack game, sending waves of players into the offensive zone when given the opportunity. Though not a world class striker, Dado Prso has had some success on the international scene and is likely to be the main man in the attacking zone. Even with Australia's win today - I'm calling on Croatia to surprise the world again and make it to the round of 16 with a win over the Socceroos.

Australia (ranked 42nd by FIFA) - a team that features a number of players who make their living playing in the English Premiership. Mark Viduka is the most notable of the lot who an upper echelon striker when healthy. Other less notable, but still adequate players who ply their trade in England are Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell. They are led by international magic man, Guus Hiddink, who guided Korea to the semi-finals in 2002 (well, Guus and the referees led Korea). Australia has been transformed under Hiddink, but the truth of the matter is that this in another team that qualified without playing top ranked competition. They beat Japan today, with three goals in the last 12 minutes of the game - but Brazil and Croatia won't be so easy.

Japan (ranked 18th by FIFA) - as I mentioned this morning, Japan comes into the tournament in a state of total disarray. They are coached by Brazilian legend Zico - but they in no way, shape or form, resemble their coach or his playing style. Japan is workman like and has relied on speed and quickness in the past - this World Cup is all about those two traits, so Japan is out of luck. Their defence is weak and can be beaten one on one - and they can't score...two key ingredients for failure. Japan is three and out in this tournament.

Winner - Brazil, they are already prepping for the round of 16 game with Italy or the Czech Republic.

2nd Place - Croatia, they have some pedigree in big international tournaments - they will squeak out a hard fought win vs. Australia to book passage into the knockout stage.

Key game - Australia and Croatia, both teams can expect to lose to Brazil and beat Japan - so will come down to goal differential or a win in this game. I think the Croats are better organized and their defence is better than Australia. If they have the edge in goal differential in this game - the go for the tie; if they don't, they pull out all the stops to beat the Aussies.

There you have it gang - DJames, I hope this one helps you out a little...but even YOU had to know that Brazil would win this group. Have a great one to do some more writing.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - for the Brazilians whose first round should be a day at the beach

Vamos a la Praia - done by so many people its now considered "traditional".

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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