Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Day 5--Analysis and Predictions

Game 12: South Korea vs. Togo

There is absolutely nothing you need to know about this game. Here's what I know about these teams:
Togo: Nothing.
South Korea. They are very fit, and will run hard all game.

Prediction: South Korea 1, Togo 0

Game 13: France vs. Switzerland
These are the presumed top two teams of this group, though I think it not completely outside the realm of possibility that South Korea, if they get win against Togo, has a shot at beating one of these teams out. So therefore, this game is important. Both will be playing for the 3 points.

1. France is old. They crashed out last cup with essentially the same line-up. Sure, Henry is 4 years older, and basically in his prime, but Zidane and Thuram and Makelele and friggin' Barthez are all getting up there.
2. Is Switzerland undervalued? Little star power, not a pretty style of soccer, but they quietly (how else would the Swiss do it?) had a very good run in qualifying. We'll see how they do and who steps up, if anyone, in the Finals.
3. Will Barthez be crazy-good, or just crazy? Those are the two options. If he wigs out, this game could get ugly in a hurry.

Prediction: Switzerland 2, France 1

Game 15: Brazil vs. Croatia

Finally, we get to see this Brazil team play for real stakes. It is the best spectacle in football, and you should really try to catch it. This is basically Plato's Ideal Form of Soccer in human form.

1. Croatia is probably the best team in the group after Brazil. They know that Australia is sitting at the top of the table with 3 points, and they may try to play for a tie. Not right off the bat, of course, but they may go very defensive at some point. I can't see that working.
2. Brazil. Just watch and enjoy. You don't need to know anything about soccer to be impressed with Ronaldhino. Watch and realize that you are watching one of the finest collections of talents in the last 35 years or so.
3. Brazil still not the most complete defensive squad, though. Croatia could find the back of the net once or twice. I just don't think they'll be able to outscore Brazil. If Brazil scores early, and takes the scoreless tie out of the equation, expect an open-ended free flowing game with lots of attacks.

Prediction: Brazil 4, Croatia 2

at some point, I'll do a complete post mortem on the US game. I'm just not up for it right now.

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