Tuesday, June 13, 2006

World Cup Preview - Group G

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

I know Group G started off today, and that this preview for my man DJames may be a few hours late - but today's results have not influenced my initial thoughts on this group. While this is one of the weaker groups in the tournament, it may hold some of the biggest surprises - witnessed by the France/Switzerland tied today.

As an aside, this group features two of the teams I hate most in the tournament - France and South Korea (yes, even though I picked Korea to win today)...both teams have knocked Figo and the Portuguese out in big tournaments. Both victories had controversial decisions that helped the bad guys win - but we won't get into that tonight. This group will come down to the level of competition you are used to playing against - France and Switzerland play some of the top European teams, Korea doesn't - I think it will be as simple as that.

France (ranked 8th by FIFA) - the last go around for Zidane and Makalele, and the beginning of the spiral down the rankings for the French. The team features some big names - Henry Trezeguet, Barthez and the aforementioned old timers; but they haven't been able to achieve anything since their victory at Euro 2000 (did I mention there was some controversy?). France should be able to generate some offence in the tournament, given that they are playing Togo and a South Korean team that is not known for their defense; Henry and Trezequet should be able to take advantage with Zidane and Vieira servicing them. They are reasonably solid in goal with Barthez, who is by no means a top flight goalkeeper anymore, but still probably the best of this lot - and their defence is experienced and solid (Makalele plays more like a defender than a midfielder). Zidane's tired legs will show in the tournament.

France has enough to get by in this relatively weak group - but they should not be considered as a legitimate threat to get beyond the quarter-finals.

Switzerland (ranked 35th by FIFA) - don't be fooled by the ranking, these guys are on the upswing; tying France twice in the World Cup qualifying group and beating a very good Turkish side to book their place at the tournament. There are not a lot of big names on this team, but they played very tight and are well organized. The Swiss defence is solid, anchored by Arsenal defender Senderos, and is the backbone of the team - they are good enough to holdoff any of the teams in this group. They don't have a wealth of talent or creativity up front - but their striker Alexander Frei is a finisher and can be considered a game breaker. The Swiss have enough to beat South Korea, which should be the deciding factor in this group.

South Korea (ranked 29th by FIFA) - they had a great tournament four years ago in their backyard - but this time around, there won't be multiple goals against them called back - and they won't be playing against teams who have had two players sent off. The Koreans are quick, which may give France and the Swiss some problems - but again, they are workman like and don't have the creativity needed to break down the French and Swiss defences. South Korea's defence will be tested by the likes of Henry and Frei - two finishers who won't make too many mistakes when given the opportunity. The South Koreans haven't had to face the level of competition of the group's two favourites and it will show here.

They are led by Dutchman Dick Advocaat, who doesn't exactly have the most impressive resume leading international teams - South Korea will miss Guss Hiddink this time around.

Togo (ranked 61st by FIFA) - there isn't much to say about Togo. They are just happy to be there - their coach wasn't, but that is a different story (look for it on a Weird & Whacked Wednesday post). The tournament will be considered a success if some of their players manage to land contracts in Europe. Three strikes and they are out.

Winner - France, they aren't as good as people think - but I don't think they are weak enough to blow this one.

2nd Place - Switzerland, their defensive, counter-attacking, style will be enough to get them through the group stage...but Spain will beat them in the round of 16.

There you have it DJames - your Group G breakdown.

I will do Group H tomorrow - but given that all four teams play tomorrow morning, here is how I see it finshing up. Spain wins the group, with the Ukraine finishing second. Tunisia puts up a decent fight and finishes third, with Saudi Arabia finishing with three losses and a quick trip home.

I'll wrap this up and try to get started on the World Cup Hazies - oh? is there baseball being played these days? Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world!

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - because I can't stand the French

Lisboa Nao Sejas Francesa - Amalia Rodrigues

Lisboa nao sejas francesa
com toda a certeza
nao vas ser feliz

Lisboa que ideia daninha
vaidosa alfancinha
casar com paris

Lisboa tens ca namorados
que dizem coitados
com as almas na voz

Lisboa nao sejas francesa
tu es portuges
tu es so p'ra nos

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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