Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup Preview - Group H

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

The last installment of the World Cup Preview - for my man DJames, who sent along a thank you email. Group H is another one of the easier groups to breakdown, much like Group G, this group has one world class team - Spain, a team used to playing top ranked competition - Ukraine, and two weaker teams - Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. The two teams advancing from this group should have pretty favourable matchups in the round of 16.

Spain (ranked 5th by FIFA) - the Spanish, along with the English, are the tournament's most notable underachievers. They have a wealth of talent that matches up favourably with just about anyone in the world - but they never seem to get it done when it counts. Spain's strength lies in the midfield - Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia are both very talented midfielders who can distribute the ball around the field, and score when given the chance. Jose Reyes and Cesc Fabregas, two highly rated young midfielders, give Spain the option of playing a speed game if needed. Up front, one big change from previous Spanish teams - Raul (one of their greatest strikers) will likely be watching from the sidelines, giving way to two younger players Fernando Torres and David Villa. Spain's defence is experienced and solid - though unspectacular - Carlos Puyol has lost a step and a half (not that he was ever a speed demon to begin with). Real Madrid's Iker Casillas is a world class goalie who should keep things clean in the group stage.

Spain cruises through the group - three relatively easy wins, and a date with the Swiss (or maybe the Koreans).

Ukraine (ranked 45th by FIFA) - the Ukraine is a bit of an unknown in this tournament, but with Andriy Shevchenko (the best striker in the world) they have a game breaker that can win games on his own. The try to play a tight game, relying on defenders who are well organized and can defend in the air. They will play a counter attack game, hoping that Shevchenko can create an opportunity or two and bury them. A round of 16 game would be considered a success for them - they may not go far, but they have enough to get past the Saudis and the Tunisians.

Tunisia (ranked 21st by FIFA) - a ranking largely built on where and who they play - African teams are on the rise...but certainly don't match up against the better teams in Europe or South America. They are another teams that doesn't feature many name players, but they work hard and are quick - so they can take advantage if you give them an opportunity on the counter attack. Their strength lies with their defenders, and they will try to mark Shevchenko with one, two and three men at times. I wouldn't completely write them off, but they will need a great deal of luck to get through to the round of 16.

Saudi Arabia (ranked 34th by FIFA) see explanation for Tunisia on rankings. The Saudis should be looked at as one of the teams that is just happy to be there. They come into the tournament being looked at by the other three teams as a relatively easy win (though the Tunisians found out today that they aren't so accomodating). The Saudis go home early - and "Sharif don't like it." (sorry, had to put in a reference to The Clash).

Winner - Spain, no further explanation needed - head and shoulders above the rest.

2nd Place - Ukraine, to sum it up with one word...Shevchenko.

Key Game - Tunisia vs Ukraine. 2nd place will certainly come down to this game with both expected to lose to Spain. A bit unfair, since I know the results from today's games - but the Ukraine will likely go into the game against Tunisia knowing that a tie should see them through to the knockout stage. I still think Shevchenko leads his team to two wins.

There you have it probably didn't need a breakdown for this group, but don't say I don't do anything for you.

There you have it peeps - I'm going back to the 3rd period of the Edmonton/Carolina game...may be back later. Have a great one!

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - for the country they dubbed "our big brother" at Euro 2004 (where we beat them) - Spain

Fado Caracois - Amalia Rodrigues

Sao caracois, sao carocolites
Sao Espagnols, sao Espaganolites
Sao Espaganolites, sao Espagnols
Sao carocolites, sao caracois

Ai um dia foi a Espagna
Ai um dia foi a Espagna
Comi la com Espagnols
Comi la com Espagnols
Toussinho assada nou espeto
Toussinho assada noe espeto
Nou moulho dos caracois
Nou moulho dos caracois

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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