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Sunday, June 11, 2006

6/11 World Cup of Coffee

Highlight of the day yesteday: Trinidad & Tobago drawing Sweden. What an incredible effort! For perspective: 1) Sweden has world class attacking options from the top clubs in Europe. 2) T & T's players mainly play in the lower divisions in England. 3) T & T were without key players due to injury. 4) T & T played an entire half a man down. 5) The Soca Warriors looked really bad in friendlies leading up to the tournament. Unbelievable.
England and Paraguay, on the other hand, produced the most unappealing football of the day. England didn't look like a team that could win the Cup right now. Paging Wayne Rooney! Ivory Coast and Argentina produced some thrilling football (that's right, football!). Argentina look like a title threat. But the Ivory Coast must be disappointed not to gain a draw--thanks to defensive lapses--considering the attacking flair and quality they displayed.
Anyhoo, on to the next games. Key questions: 1) Can Iran spring the upset over Mexico? 2) Can the Dutch take advantage of Ivory Coast's loss and pick up the full 3 points? 3) How much soccer will my wife let me watch? Now, on to the fearless (gulp) predictions...

HOLLAND vs. SERBIA & MONTENEGRO
OK, I'm trying to decide whether to stick with my original group prediction (which also included an IC draw against Argentina) and call a draw here, or give this to the Dutch. Holland has an intriguing blend of youth and experience that could lead to dramatically different outcomes. The Artist Formerly Known as Lots of Yugoslavia is one of those teams that aren't glamorous but are never an easy out. Their ability to defend and the injuries to the superior-in-talent Dutch have me rolling the dice. 1-1 draw.

MEXICO vs. IRAN
I've flagged this match as a potential shocker. Not that I'm picking it, mind you. Iran can score goals and have this game marked as their opportunity to advance (assuming they take care of Angola). But they also give up goals. Mexico knows that, unlike the US, their group is set up to make a run. Mexico better buckle up because this is going to be an exciting match. Still, 2-1 Mexico.

PORTUGAL vs. ANGOLA
Senegal brought a lot of joy to their people in 2002 when they shocked their former colonizers France in the opening match. Angola hope to produce that in an emotional match against Portugal, from whom they finally won their independence in 1975. But that's where the similarities end with Senegal, who had some great talent. Angola does not. While it would make a great story, and while Trinidad & Tobago provide hope for the remaining underdogs, I see Portugal taking the wind out of the sails. 2-0 Portugal (knocked a goal off after the T&T match...)

DAILY DIGEST
Sad story about Togo's team. They are falling apart due to dissension over player bonuses. It's adversely affected their preparation and now their exasperated manager has resigned. Come on guys, you're ruining this moment for yourselves and your country.

Speaking of preparation, Ronaldo (mired in a weight-gain controversy) and the boys have their own method to get ready for matches. Hit the disco!

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