Friday, June 09, 2006

Cup-Tied

Got to the office a little early today so I could make sure to give one last blog before the World Cup gets underway. If you're a big fan like we are here at c/s, you know that the anticipation of the event is worth every second of the four years. The long qualification process is so grueling, so tense, that just being there is quite an accomplishment for a lot of these teams -- Angola with its war torn history; Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay for negotiating the tricky task of playing away qualifiers in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru thousands of feet above sea level; Trinidad and Tobago for winning an away game thousands of miles away against Bahrain. There are others (like Australia, who played exactly two difficult games to get in) for whom the road was less rocky. But all that matters not as we get underway today, with the ailing hosts Germany taking on upstarts Costa Rica just before high noon.

In other, related news, any Junkies Radio fans out there may have heard yours truly on the radio this morning. The Junkies were making their World Cup picks and asked for caller advice, I helped them select their teams. Though Brazil and England went first, I helped EB (I think) select Argentina and Italy with picks four and five. However, I think I may have messed up a fact on the air, so here's the truth: the last time a South American team has won a World Cup in Europe was 1958, when Brazil won in Sweden (the only time it's ever happened). Beyond that, here's a good one: I read some theory the other day that Italy advances to the Final once every twelve years. You do the math.

Pitchfork "reviewed" England's official World Cup song, by the band Embrace. Also, England coach Sven Goran Eriksson has a new training method for penalty shootouts. It involves telling the goalkeeper which way you're shooting to force yourself to hit a better shot. To be honest, I see little to no value in practicing penalties, except to figure out who your good penalty takers are. Course, this comes from a guy who took penalties in high school and club but lost two straight state cup titles in shootouts.

FANTASY UPDATES
Michael Ballack has pronounced himself fit to play in Germany's opener, 24 hours after the coach ruled him out.

Deep-lying Portuguese playmaker Deco will most likely miss his team's tournament opener against Angola. This most likely won't affect Portugal's chances or game plan, but absence later in the tournament would be a big blow.

comanche/soul exclusive (not really): Argentina's starting lineup for Saturday's opener against the Ivory Coast:

Formation (4-4-2):
1-Roberto Abbondanzieri; 21-Nicolas Burdisso, 2-Roberto Ayala, 6-Gabriel Heinze, 3-Juan Pablo Sorin; 18-Maxi Rodriguez, 8-Javier Mascherano, 5-Esteban Cambiasso, 10-Juan Roman Riquelme; 7-Javier Saviola, 9-Hernan Crespo
Ukraine arrived in Germany last night, the last team to get there and set up camp. They're situated in Potsdam, the city which hosted a monumental post World War II conference between Truman, Clement Atlee of Great Britain (who replaced Churchill during the conference after defeating him in the election for PM), and Stalin. The conference divided Germany into four zones of occupation. Ukraine opens the World Cup against Spain on June 14 (Wednesday).
Friday and Saturday's comanche/soul opening match predictions:
Germany 2 - Costa Rica 0
Poland 1 - Ecuador 1
England 2 - Paraguay 1
Trinidad and Tobago 0 - Sweden 2
Argentina 1 - Ivory Coast 1
Enjoy the games and stay posted for updates over the weekend.

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