Tuesday, June 06, 2006

DE-fense (stompstompstomp) DE-fense (stompstompstomp)

Admittedly, that's a rather banal chant, however, it is appropriate given what I'm about to discuss, namely: my picks.

My picks: 1st--Germany/2nd--Poland/3rd--Costa Rica/4th--Ecuador
Defense: Okay this is pretty simple to do. Germany's the host nation and that's usually good for two more wins than they actually deserve. Poland is in to prove that an average European side is still a little better than an average Central/South American side. Costa Rica misses out by one point because I North America's never sent three teams through the first round. Ecuador goes home crying because they've only won at home and, as I learned in Geography class. Ecuador is not Germany.

Group B
My picks: 1st--England/2nd--Paraguay/3rd--Sweden/4th--Trinidad & Tobago
Defense: England's pretty obvious, even without Rooney. As for Paraguay, they've added scoring punch (Roque Santa Cruz) to one of the best defenses in recent cups. A string of two straight second round qualifications should be stretched to three. And while Sweden didn't allow many goals in qualifying that's mostly due to Andreas Isaakson not the defense, and playing England/Paraguay is a little different from Malta/Iceland (more of that Geography paying off). And I dropped T&T to the bottom because bead based economies rarely perform well at the World Cup

Group C
My picks: 1st--Holland/2nd--Serbia & Montenegro/3rd--Ivory Coast/4th--Argentina
Defense: Holland's gelling well as a team and has eliminated a lot of older talent that bogged down past teams like France in '02 (also I like clogs). I'm trusting Serbia & Montenegro's defense (Dragutinovic, Vidic, Krastjic, and Gavrancic--dubbed "The Famous Four" by many and "Very Itchy" by me) which allowed 1 goal in all of European qualifying to continue the trend. Ivory Coast gets third based on a surprising draw with Argentina, while Messi and co. get whipped at home because after said surprising draw in the first match, they play tense against S&M and fall and before they know it they're limping home against the Dutch. (This is also influenced by my affection for Drogba's dancing and my distaste for dirty Argentines).

Group D
My Picks: 1st--Mexico/2nd--Iran/3rd--Portugal/4th--Angola
Defense: Welcome to the Group of Death Soap Opera: Angola, spurned by Roderick and 99% of the sporting world, plays Portugal first. In their last "friendly" 5 Angolans were sent off with Red Cards (largely due to scratching, clawing and evening gown ripping). I'm guessing there's at least one red and Portugal, battling demonic possession of their own, fight back to lose one of theirs or have a key player get hurt. Either way a team that's been bickering pretty regularly (see "Big Phil" Scolari V. Cristiano Ronaldo) will be playing on tilt against Iran, lose a shocker, then only manage a draw against Mexico, hence...Mexico and the whole cast of Destinos wins, Iran, to the embarrassment of world leaders, goes on, Portugal goes home and Angola runs off with Jett AND Blade in a season ending Shocker!

Group E
My picks: 1st--Czechs/2nd--USA/3rd--Italy/4th--Ghana
Defense: Ready for more Ben crazy talk? Italy, under scrutiny (betting scandal) stress (changing style of football) and the weather (defense not up to par) draws with Ghana, then do the same with the US and shuffles their way home losing to a Czech side that gallops through the 2nd group of death. The US is in the right place at the right time (sound familiar?) and Ghana takes three goals in three matches + one point from Italy as a moral victory and heads home happy.

Group F
My picks: 1st--Brazil/2nd--Australia/3rd--Japan/4th--Croatia
Defense: Brazil's in with ease and Croatia is dead to me...DEAD!! (If you don't like it, take it up with Davor Suker). Japan's lack of striking prowess means they come up short to an Aussie team led by wundercoach Guus Hiddink (his teams have made the semis in the last two world cups: Holland '98/South Korea '02). Bank on 90 more minutes of OZZIE OZZIE OZZIE! Oi oi oi! than anyone really wants.

Group G
My picks: 1st--France/2nd--Swiss/3rd--South Korea/4th--Togo
Defense: Aging, confused, bewildered France comes out of the gate with a draw and scrambles to pick up the pieces (succeeding where Argentina/Portugal/Italy failed). But the draw means the Swiss (who's midfield includes the always good on grass, Roger Federer) take an easy win over Togo and shut down in defense to stymie South Korea's attempt to sneak into the 2nd round. And poor Togo has the consolation prize of returning to a dictatorial regime...sooooo...that's fun.

Group H
My picks: 1st--Ukraine/2nd--Spain/3rd--Tunisia/4th--Saudi Arabia
Defense: Okay, I'm backing Schevchenko and his model-catching, strife-ending, goal-scoring, Chelsea-going hair cut to wrap up first place (continuing the tradition of great results for great hair (see: Jairzhino '70, Valderamma/Baggio '94 and Clint Mathis '02) including a big win over Spain in the first match). I'm resisting the temptation to add Spain to my list of improbable upsets so they sneak past Tunisia (happy to get their first win at the cup). Meanwhile Saudi Arabia...uh... yeah...they have a team...good for them!

Round of 16: Paraguay over Germany (stunner), Holland over Iran (easy), England over Poland (cruise), Serbia and Montenegro over Mexico (Great defense beats good attacking), Czechs over the Aussies (no more Ozzie!Ozzie!Ozzie! (oioioi!) mercifully), France over Spain (because I took French/not Spanish), Brazil over the Us (I'm patriotic, not stupid), Ukraine over Switzerland (Andriy's run continues)

Quarters: Holland over Paraguay (the madness stops), Czechs over France (because I took French, but I'm not stupid), England over Serbia and Montenegro (when Rooney comes back and enters folklore by beating the Famous 4), Brazil over the Ukraine ('dinhio over 'chenko)

Semis: Holland over Czechs (I'm picking blindly at this point), Brazil over England (safe route)

Consolation: England over Czechs

Finals: Brazil over Holland.

Okay, as far as the ending goes I'm not happy with it...I feel like with everyone picking Brazil they're sure not to win. But I don't know enough about Holland or the Czechs, and England's too...Englandy...none of the Quarter finalists strike my fancy either and I'm not going back to stick Argentina/Portugal/Italy in here just because I'm not sure. So I'll take Brazil and then sit back and enjoy whatever final we end up getting.

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