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Not even halfway complete with group play, the 2006 World Cup is in full effect. The tournament started last Friday but it seems like World Cup coverage has been going on for weeks. The total coverage from ESPN and ABC has been exceptional with every match on national television. And for those who are fortunate to enjoy the matches in HD, the atmosphere is that much more enjoyable. However, ESPN needs to please tell their soccer analysts not to show up to work anymore. The sports network can surely do better than ex-US national players that feel their obligation is to ride our nation’s coattail into the ground. Objectivity is something they do not understand. This is called the “World” Cup so why not put some of Europe’s best analysts in front of the camera? Give me Tommy Smyth all day, everyday. He knows his soccer.
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The World Cup is just getting into its grove. Some teams have impressed, while others have depressed. There have been a boatload of spectacular goals that will only continue to pile up, and we have to understand that a lot of the anticipated group play match-ups are still to come.
Top Matches Coming in Draw Stage
Netherlands vs. Argentina – Wednesday, June 21
Argentina looked impressive in its win against Ivory Coast, while Holland controlled all of Serbia Montenegro. Victories by both in their second match will set up a winner-take-all for group C when they meet.
Czech Republic vs. Italy – Thursday, June 22
The Czechs owned the US, and Italy looked in championship form against Ghana. Look for both to continue their winning form in Game Two. The loser of this game will have the formidable task of dealing with Brazil in the Round of 16.
Portugal vs. Mexico – Wednesday, June 21
Both earned three points in their opening round win, but each showed weaknesses. They have enough talent to get by lesser group opponents in their second games, so their meeting will decide the winner and runner-up for group D. Finishing as runner-up might not be so bad. But with the Czech Republic or Italy waiting, have fun.
Top Teams Thus Far
They may have been the nation most likely to fail (once again) coming into Germany, but their 4-0 demolition of Ukraine should be taken seriously. David Villa, Luis Garcia, and Fernando Torres will be the trio of the tournament. Write that down.
Critics questioned if they were actually worthy of their No. 2 FIFA World Ranking, but after the 3-0 victory they put on the United States, are they really that good or are we that big of a joke? Tomas Rosicky and Pavel Nedved looked awful good.
A force to be reckoned with in Germany. Dominant in defense and full of life in attack, the Italians will advance far into June. All that talk of Italian club league betting scandal was non-existent on the field. At 6-feet, 4-inches Luca Toni is deadly with his leg.
Raise your hands if you took this team serious as a threat and be honest. They were a good team in an awful qualifying region. It is actually quite simple: inferior talent.
Could 2006 be a repeat of four years ago? The first match made that statement a possibility. The Swiss have a good defense, but if you can’t put up numbers on them how will you going to beat the world’s best? Thierry Henry was a non-factor and was extremely disappointing.
Playing pitifully and still getting the win: priceless. England is lucky to have three points but when the knockout round comes, they will need more firepower if they want to erase 40 years of misery and pain for their country.
Top Individual Performances
David Villa – Spain: A double in his first World Cup match. Watch out for this kid to lead the Spaniards to the final eight.
Tim Cahill – Australia: Bench warmer to hero. His equalizer was nice, but the game winner was a beauty.
Miroslav Klose – Germany: Two strikes in the tournament opener. On his birthday, no less.
Tomas Rosicky – Czech Republic: His bomb from 30 yards put the match away real quick. His breakaway turned the US loss into an embarrassment.