Sunday, January 08, 2006


World Cup Fever Is Here! Part 1

I promised to do this ages ago, but I'm a man of my word, so here it is - the 'Dr Feelgood' 2006 World Cup predictor!

Stage 1

Group 1

Costa Rica

Germany, of course, have the double-edged sword of being hosts. Let's get it right - the pressure on the team to perform is massive, not least due to the fact that coach Klinsmann has upset most of the native press with his Californian commute. Still, home advantage counts no end in World Cup games - look how far it got the average at best South Korea and Japan sides in 2002. As long as Khan isn't a liability in goal, and with the input of rising stars like Bastian Schweinsteiger (boy, do I want that name!), the Germans will comfortably reach the semi's.

Poland are a curate's egg, and usually perform much better in qualifying than in tournaments. They failed to get to Euro 2004, and were a bit of a joke in 2002 when they crashed and burned. They have quality, but will it be enough? Probably. Costa Rica shouldn't be a problem - they play attractive football, and have comparatively good records in international tournaments when they qualify, but at some point, you have to accept that you're not going to go far when Paulo Wanchope is your best player.

Ecuador, meanwhile, are interesting. They have the same problem that dogs the Denver Broncos NFL franchise - namely, they perform brilliantly at home because they play at such high altitude, and their records are over-inflated because of it. However, German stadiums are a little less close in proximity to God's doormat, and they'll struggle.

Team to watch:

"Deutschland, deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt!"

Group 2

Trinidad & Tobago

Ah, the controversial one. Well, the pundits said on the day of the draw that England couldn't have done much better, and they're right. It's time to face facts - if we can't progress through this group, we have no reason to continually tout ourselves as amongst the world's elite. Still, if Rooney gets injured, we'll probably make it unnecessarily nail-biting as always. Hopefully, the wunderkind will remain fit and healthy, because he genuinely is amongst the world's top five at the moment. I reckon Ericksson will go whatever, but particularly unless we get to the semis. Oh, and for God's sake Sven, please don't put Crouch up front. Please.

Trinidad were delighted to draw England, and declared a national holiday to celebrate. Unfortunately, the Carribbean partymen won't put in a Jamaican Bobsled Team performance. They'll be colourful, fun, noisy, and very, very out.

Sweden and Paraguay are both potential upsets for England, who may well be relying on a 0-0 draw between these two perennially underperforming nations. Both have great strength up front, with Roque Santa Cruz for Paraguay and Henrik Larsson and Freddie Ljungberg linking up brilliantly for Sweden. Still, both lack the strength in depth to go a long way.

Team to watch:

Come on, I couldn't really pick anyone else, could I?

Group 3

Ivory Coast
Serbia & Montenegro

On the face of it, this group splits fairly easily into two. Argentina and Holland have huge footballing traditions, loud and constant support, and more World Cup history than they can shake a stick at. Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast is a relatively new footballing nation, while Serbia & Montenegro certainly has lots and lots of history, but not really football related.

However. Things won't end like this. One or other of the old guard will fall at this hurdle. The stubborn and determined Serbs will be no pushover, and the Ivory Coast are blessed with players like Drogba and Bakayoko who always play a hundred times better for their country than their club.

Team to watch:

The Albiceleste have too much quality not to make it through in my opinion, so the genial Dutchmen could be in for a very, very bumpy ride.

Group 4


Mexico are consistent under-performers in tournaments, and it has to be said that being in the very weak CONCACAF section makes them a little complacent. In a weak group, they look good to go through, but don't expect them to get far.

Portugal, similar to their Iberian neighbours, have a tendency to struggle in tournaments. They've never reached the final, their best being third in 1966, and now is a real opportunity to change that. A lot of the side consists of players who are, by international standards, the equivalent of journeymen pros, particularly in defence. Nonetheless, they have a good, flairy midfield, and with the guidance of Big Phil, who won the cup with Brazil in 2002, they could well go far.

Angola aren't a great side, but they knocked out the Super Eagles to get this far, and don't underestimate the motivation there'll be in playing old colonial masters Portugal. Iran, meanwhile, are likely to be an afterthought.

Team to watch:

Under the pressure of international competition, they're probably better than Mexico.

The second half of the draw will come later today.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Would concur with 99% of that Steve. Out of badness though, I'll say Trinidad and Tobago, led on by Marvin "Mad Dog" Andrews will romp your group. No, I haven't forgotten to take my medication today.

You'll have seen the cup shocks on both sides of the border this weekend. Never say never............
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