Saturday, June 10, 2006

Day One and I'm already wrong

Yup - Ecuador going nowhere. Well, what are you gonna do? They could still not advance but they certainly beat an uninspired Poland side. They should make Podolski come back from Germany. Agustin Delgado, who scored one and made one, never got the chance at Southampton so it was nice to see him perform. He was supposed to be a great player when he signed but simply could not stay healthy. Picked a good time to show his goods.

Germany looked OK but certainly won't be making Poland or Ecuador quiver with fear. They really missed Ballack. Borowski plays such a different role. I know they're the host country but they can go ahead and get knocked out as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully Lehman is hurt enough so they'll have to bring in Kahn. He'll liven up the proceedings a bit. Yeah, they scored four goals but their story remains tiresome. It was great to see the old Derby County man Wanchope bag a couple, though. Clinical finishing on his part.

Speaking of Derby, as my mate Alec (Derby native and Rammy fan) said, it was England's first game, they got the points, no complaints. What the hell was up with removing Owen, though? Did Sven do it just to show what a moron he is for not bringing Darren Bent and sending Defoe home? I realize Owen isn't totally match fit but when he comes off there is nobody to replace him! Crouch was all alone and Downing simply dribbled into the corner or crossed for Crouch who was marked by four dudes. A Bent or Defoe would be there to jump on Crouch's layoffs. Sven's a fool, but I guess we all know that already. England also still suffered from the Frank and Stevie G combo. I don't have a solution, but we're talking about two of the very best midfielders in the world here but they do not complement each other well at all. Frank got a few decent attempts at goal towards the end of the match and Stevie G had a couple beautiful passes but neither stamped their impression on the match, and that is a shame.

And we're off...


It's finally here. Four years of slogging through friendlies and qualifying and injuries and conjecture and we have finally arrived. Please see the links section on the right for a link to the complete TV schedule. Some thoughts:

1. The Czechs are overrated.
Baros had a good Euro 2004 and that is it. Nedved is in the middle of a downward
spiral that would rival Gary Busey. Or Nick Nolte. Are they the same guy?

Sorry - got off subject there. Anyway, back to Pavel. He's 33 and over the last
few months has played (when he's played!) like he's 38. Peter Cech will only
take them so far. I like Italy and Ghana (with the US close) to advance out of
Group E.

2. Teams that are going nowhere:
Togo - just happy to be here says it all
Ecuador - there is no Quito (9,300 feet above sea level)in Germany
Saudi Arabia - will be playing in a constant state of damage control
Angola - Yeah, right
T&T - The darling squad of this year's Cup cannot compete. Sad but true.

3. Italy won't win
Italians = flair for the dramatic = dramatic loss.

4. France will be the first "soccer power" to bite the dust
It's amazing to me that basically nothing has changed in their set-up since they
failed to score a goal in 2002. Instead of being injured, Zidane is back yet in
such a state of decline that his influence is muted. Henry and Trez don't
perform, and yes, Crazy Man Barthez is still their goalie! With the talent in
that country I cannot believe the squad that has been assembled. Guily has
every right to be pissed. Their only saving grace might be Franck Ribery. He's
got the speed and quality to really open things up for the forwards.

5. Watch out for Ukraine
Yup. They're my darkhorse. Unlike other nations (see France above), they've got a proven
goalscorer (Sheva) who maintains his club form for his country. They've got a
solid, young midfield and a disciplined defense. They've have no problem
advancing out of Group E. It's just a question of how far they can go after that.

Friday, June 09, 2006

World Cup 2006 set for kick-off

Preview: Poland vs. Ecuador

Preview: Germany vs. Costa Rica

Richard Williams on Brazil,,1793540,00.html

Sean Ingle's Predictions

Ballack declares: 'I am fit, I want to play'

Deco doubtful for Portugal opener

Calm so far as English fans flock to Frankfurt

Donovan matures from playmaker into US leader

Germany brings out Lippi's lighter side

Reading and Boro track Liege's USA defender

Bowyer leaves Newcastle for West Ham

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

Alex Chick on France

Departing Defoe praised for positive attitude

Things are starting to come together

So after the initial euphoria of getting actual World Cup tickets died down, I started to panic. Matches on the 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st and 22nd in Kaiserslautern, Munich, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen and Nurnberg? How the hell am I going to pull that off? Thanks to Germany's excellent rail site I've got a decent idea of my schedule. Suffice to say night trains will be key.

The other great news is that the one and only Pat Buckley will be accompanying me to Munich and perhaps Stuttgart. We're going to meet up for USA/Italy in the 'Slautern and then ride the night train down to Munich. Pat grabbed a room at the hotel where I've got a bed, so we're golden. It's smack dab in the city center and should offer excellent access to the hords of Brazilian and Aussie loonies. The people watching will be fabulous.

My biggest problem at the moment is finding a room in Gelsenkirchen. I was going to grab another night train to Nuremberg but The Wife suggested I get a room and she's right (per usual). I should get some solid shut-eye if I can. Anyway, there's nothing available in Gelsen. so I'm trying for something in Essen, which is a 10-minute train away. I'm waiting to hear back from some places at the moment.

I Had a Good Weekend

A very good weekend. Before I elaborate, I must thank Brendan Moylan at Eurosport for making my weekend so good. Thanks to that man, I now have in my possession tickets for:

June 18 - Brazil vs. Australia - Munich

This is a tantalizing match-up. The Aussies will come in with something to prove as representatives of Oceania. Representatives of what? Yeah, Oceania. Anyway, you need look no further than their “friendly” against the Dutch last weekend. Three of Holland’s men limped off and the vegemite eaters finished with 10 men. I can’t wait to see what sort of tackles will be flying around the Allianz Arena (and to see the Arena itself.

I just hope things don’t get too out of control; I don’t want the Geri Curled One to be knocked out of commission in the Group Stage.

Munich is a fitting setting for a match between perhaps the two biggest partying nations on the planet. Odds on getting knocked over by 350 pound pissed (read: wasted) Aussie? 3-5.

June 19 - Spain vs. Tunisia - Stuttgart

I expect this to be a tight affair. Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations just two years ago (OK, they were the host country, but still) and play a European style that should suit them well against Spain. Spain? Well, we all know about Spain. Perennial underachievers, the Spanish have quality in buckets but can never seem to get it together. They have not gotten past the quarters since 1950! Spain! There is some good young blood in this team, though, and I think the likes of Alonso, Reyes, Villa and Xavi will provide some success. Spain wins this encounter 2-1.

June 21 - Portugal vs. Mexico - Gelsenkirchen

I feel kinda bad about this one. My neighbor Pedro, who came to the States from Mexico some 25 years ago, applied for tickets for each of Mexico’s Group Stage matches. He got Mexico vs. Angola. That’s it. He’s taking his 13-year-old son Adrian over for a father/son trip of a lifetime and he gets tickets to one lousy match. Pedro lets me watch Champions League matches on ESPN Deportes on his big-screen TV. Pedro, the professional chef, cooks my wife and me dinner in his outdoor kitchen. Pedro lets me borrow his chainsaw and power washer. Pedro can only get Mexico/Angola after applying the first day tickets go on sale and I get Portugal vs. Mexico dropped in my lap a week before the tourney starts.

I thought about giving him the ticket. I really did. But I’ll tell you why I didn’t, and why I won’t. I just can’t give up the opportunity to root against Mexico. Oh, I like Portugal fine. Great country. Nice people. Good wine. I went on my honeymoon there, for crying out loud. But their national team just rubs me the wrong way. No, I’m most excited to root vehemently against Mexico. That and check out Shalke’s killer stadium (
Disclaimer: On an earlier post I said “root, root, root for the hemisphere.” That does not include Mexico.

June 22 - Ghana vs. USA - Nuremberg

The final group game for the US. My pals Pat and Ivar will be there = good times. But will the United States advance? And at this point in the proceedings, how important will the game be? I’m nervous already.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Germany's Ballack ruled out of curtain-raiser

Eriksson: Rooney is 'injury free'

Adriano Changes Mind About Inter

End of the world as Cisse breaks leg

Bookies and bars cash in as World Cup fever grips Asia

Everton keeper Martyn announces retirement

U.S. national team prepared for the hate

Boro agree fee for Chelsea's Huth, await his response

Fenerbahce appeals to Campbell, say reports

Mexico keeper returns home after father's death

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Get ready to dislike America,,1786908,00.html

Roberto Gotta in Italy

U.S. holds obligatory open practice in Germany

Ronaldinho pleads for protection

Based on Australia's performance against the Dutch, he's going to need all the protection he can get...-ed.

Eriksson pleads for calm as Rooney comeback hopes mount;_ylt=AjUQlg5XYRzr9Kfg41.ks6kmw7YF?slug=afp-fblwc2006engrooney&prov=afp&type=lgns

Boro ready for qualification row over Southgate

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

'I don't know my first 11', insists US coach Arena

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger in Germany

Santa Cruz World Cup’s Most Handsome

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge interview,,1791282,00.html

Klinsmann's squad are mere ghosts of winners past,,1791079,00.html

Oom-pah and apathy greet England party,,1791166,00.html

Stadiums renamed for Fifa sponsors

Arena Secrecy Irks Beasley

US worried by World Cup sex trafficking

Schaars and de Jong on standby for injury-hit Dutch

American striker Johnson hopes Europe comes calling;_ylt=Amgto2fDqPOb1FegvWa9ZkUmw7YF?slug=reu-worldusjohnson&prov=reuters&type=lgns

Southgate blocked from becoming Boro boss

Matthias Krug in Germany

We're a shambles, fumes Japan star Nakata

Injury scans for Italy's Nesta and Zambrotta

Monday, June 05, 2006

Fear darkens the German dream of a world party,,1790277,00.html

Messi comes of age

Hosts tackle security risks head-on

U.S. team raring to go

Squad from Hell,,1787923,00.html

Easy win for Brazil, Dutch hit by injuries

Onyewu Closing In On Middlesbrough Move

Top 10 World Cup farewells

Freddie raring to go in Germany

Adidas-Puma feud to play out at World Cup

Another Hamburg mop-top: Convey could get start

United States soccer national team profiles

Crouch has the last laugh over critics