Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Coup du Jour

In the biggest summer signing so far, Champions League Runners-up Arsenal have signed Tomas Rosicky from Germany's Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed fee rumored to be around 7 million pounds. For a peek at the dimunitive Czech playmaker's talents, go here (and note the ball he plays to fellow Czech Jan Koller at the 5:21 mark). Comanche/soul likes this signing, as Rosicky is still just 25 and should be accustomed to fast, physical play from his time in Germany. However, it goes to show how the 1997 European champs Dortmund have fallen, selling off a 25 year old star for 8 million pounds less than what they paid for him.

Also, a full slate of friendlies (scroll by day to see the rest of the week) this week sees most World Cup teams in action. The USA takes on Morocco -- a team dear to my heart from my time spent over there -- in Nashville tonight at 7 pm. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

And finally, though we clearly don't have enough days left before the World Cup, I'll be profiling teams on here regularly, trying to get at least one a day. I'll assess their chances, their lineup, and make some predictions. Stay tuned.

Today's World Cup Contender:
GERMANY - The Germans have never really been a favorite team of mine. I enjoy the 1990 WC winners because they seemed to play with an attacking flair often absent for the team usually characterized as "methodical and organized". On that team, Matthaeus was the engine with Klinsmann and Voeller razor sharp with their finishing. They suffered through a rough patch in 94 and 98, losing to upstart Eastern European teams each time, but that rough period was sandwiched between a fairly impressive European Championship win in 1996. 2002's run to the final was a major surprise, but, as the German media is still quick to point out, they didn't really beat anyone en route (and haven't since they knocked off England 1-0 in Wembley in an early qualifier for 2002...you may recall they lost the follow up game at home, 5-1). To be sure, they can't be counted out. A relatively favorable draw-- Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador -- means they'll advance out of their group (no host has ever been eliminated in the first round), but will almost certainly have a tough knockout game waiting for them in England or Sweden. They've got a lot of youngters in the team, and new Chelsea signing Michael Ballack showed in '02 that he can carry the team on his shoulders. Bastian Schweinsteiger is the guy everyone's talking about now, and look for him to provide some spark in attacking midfield, possibly off the bench. Miroslav Klose is one of those strikers who always seems to score goals without looking like a particularly good finisher, but I think his goals and the drive of Ballack put them in the quarterfinals.
Best Case Scenario: Semifinals. Could happen with a little luck.
Worst Case Scenario: Second round. Falling to England or Sweden after dropping down to second in Group A.

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