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Monday, June 12, 2006

6/12 World Cup of Coffee

I didn't get to see all the matches today, only about half of each. From what I saw: the Dutch picked up 3 vital points and should advance while Serbia & Montenegro just didn't have the verve to breakthrough. Mexico-Iran was entertaining and tense. It looked like it could head to a draw before an Iranian defensive blunder led to a goal. The third Mexican goal was a beauty. Very emotional for Mexico considering the death of goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez's father earlier this week. Angola acquitted themselves well after giving up a deflating goal very early. Not the most exciting match, but glad to see Angola not get embarrassed. On to tomorrow, including the opening match for the United States:

AUSTRALIA vs. JAPAN
This the match we've all been waiting for. OK, maybe not, but I picked Australia to sneak out second place in this group and am eager to see how they do in a must-win match (for me). Japan is no pushover, having tied Germany in a recent friendly. Australia brings a physical approach and the coaching genius of Guus Hiddink to face Japan's midfield weapons. I think both teams see this match as vital to their chances, so even though my instincts tell me a 1-1 draw, I'm going with a save-face, bracket-induced pick of...Australia 1 Japan 0.

UNITED STATES vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
I just don't have a good feeling about the US this time around. Seems to be a lot of tension in the air--expectations, heightened security, everybody wondering who's starting. I'm guessing that Convey and Beasley start on the wings and that Donovan moves up front. They will need to defend with serious concentration and discipline against the explosive Czechs. The U.S. has been struggling to score goals and I just feel like the Czechs are going to get two goals in this match. Hope I'm wrong, but 2-0 Czech Republic.

ITALY vs. GHANA
The Italians have been mired in scandal and dealing with injuries, but hey, this is Italy. They have the potential to lose out in the Rd. of 16 or to win it all. I just can't see them flopping in the group stages. Ghana will make it difficult for them, with talented midfielder Michael Essien and three teammates who play in Italy's league. But I think the Italians will punish their vulnerability at the back. 2-1 Italy.

DAILY DIGEST
Headline of the Day: Wives, girlfriends console dejected Swedes

On American prospects: SI's Grant Wahl and Fox Sports' Jamie Trecker

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