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Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup Draw

Ok, I really should be at the pub or something, but the World Cup draw was held today and here's the Groups :

Group A : Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador

Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden

Group C: Argentina, Ivory Coast, Serbia & Montenegro, Holland

Group D: Mexico, Iran, Angola, Portugal

Group E: Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic

Group F: Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan

Group G: France, Switzerland, Togo , S Korea

Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia

Overall, most of the big teams have it fairly easy in the first round groups. But if you're looking for great World Cup football, then Brazil's group has more quality than most.

Other groups with potential for exciting and competitive soccer include Group E with Italy, the USA and the Czechs and Group C where the Ivory Coast, Holland or - with a little luck - Serbia and Montenegro could qualify alongside Argentina.

I can, of course, see Spain getting knocked out in the first round with the Ukraine and Tunisia going through. It is, of course, the duty of the Spanish to underperform at World Cup Finals. 2006 should be no different. Vive Espagna !

posted by mark_s at 10:25 PM 2 comments

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Just A Reminder To The Revisionists

I've kept meaning to mention this in the past, but now's my chance. Ahead of the World Cup draw tomorrow, when all the 'real' journalists assess England's chances of winning the 2006 World Cup Finals, I'd just like to debunk the revisionist view of the 2002 Finals once and for all.

England didn't get knocked out because of Sven's inability to make tactical decisions against Brazil or because Seaman (who had a fabulous tournament to that point) made a mistake. We got knocked out because our squad was fairly thin, because we had to play two players - Owen and Beckham - who were both injured and because we were playing Brazil, for crying out loud.

When you all buy your World Cup Tickets and are sitting there watching your team actually play, try to keep in mind what's really happening as - a year or so down the line - journalists are sure to use the benefit of hindsight to tell you that something different actually occured.

posted by mark_s at 5:16 PM 2 comments

FA Furious Over Player Restrictions

Not enough is being made of this, but players who have been called up for their World Cup soccer squads are not allowed - by FIFA ruling - to play for their club sides after May 15. Unless - and this is really galling - they are playing in the UEFA Champions League Final, which is set for May 17th.

This means that World Cup squad players in the English Championship and lower divisions will be ineligible for the play-offs should their teams get that far. Consequently, some of the better Championship teams will be without experienced, talented players for what could mean the difference between financial security and bankruptcy. And that's just in England...God only knows what this ruling might mean to players in other countries.

I am, of course, all in favour of seeing some World Cup football played by players who aren't completely exhausted from a long club season. The last World Cup was spoilt by tired and semi-injured players not living up to their abilities. Nevertheless, this kind of ruling simply encourages the increasingly fractious club v country row.

FIFA really do need to think these things through before acting. Yeah, I know...but stranger things have happened..honest !

posted by mark_s at 4:36 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Win a Trip To The World Cup Final

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This is a reliable sportsbook with up to 35% in bonuses, plus chances to win a trip to Vegas, luxury goods and - of course - the opportunity to watch some live soccer at Germany World Cup 2006.

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posted by mark_s at 9:03 PM 0 comments

World Cup Seedings

FIFA released the seedings for the 2006 World Cup yesterday and really there's not too many surprises. All the big footballing nations get seeded and the rest don't. It is - of course - totally objective and based on previous World Cup performances combined with current world rankings. Nothing at all to do with maximising revenues from television companies and advertisers. Oh no.

Anyway, here's the 8 seeds :

Germany, England, Brazil, Argentina,
Italy, Spain, Mexico, France.

The other pots are as follows :

Pot Two : Australia, : Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Angola and Togo, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Pot Three : Croatia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Pot Four : Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea,Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States.

Serbia and Montenegro - the lowest ranked European football team - get a Pot all of their own. Which mean they will be cannon fodder for Brazil or Argentina. Lucky old Serbia.

posted by mark_s at 1:36 PM 0 comments