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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

6/20 World Cup of Coffee

The England soap opera resumes today, but first let's take a moment to be thankful yesterday is over. Spain and Tunisia provided the only intrigue of the day, as Tunisia had a shock 1-0 lead for 70 minutes. Relentless Spanish pressure finally paid off after bringing in Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas while young Fernando Torres continued his run at the Golden Boot. A 3-1 final was harsh to Tunisia, though Spain deserved the win. Tunisia must beat Ukraine to advance to the second round after Ukraine's 4-0 thrashing of hapless Saudi Arabia. This was the Ukraine I expected to challenge Spain. They simply need a draw against Tunisia to advance. Oh, Togo did show up and allegedly gave the Swiss a game before succumbing 2-0. Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, and France will sweat out their two spots in the final group matches.
Things get exciting today as we begin the third and final slate of group matches. Each match in all the groups will begin at the same time, ensuring fair play. Tomorrow we have...

This is the stinker of the day. Both are already eliminated from second round contention. Life's too short to analyze...Poland 1 Costa Rica 0.

This is a really intriguing match. Ecuador has surpassed all expectations, looking very solid in wins against Costa Rica and Poland. They can indeed win outside the high altitude of Quito. But my gut feeling is that both Costa Rica and Poland were more motivated against Germany. Costa Rica got to open the World Cup in their match with the Germans while the Poles got to take on their fierce rivals. Both seemed to experience letdowns against Ecuador. Germany will come forward in attack, and so far Ecuador has defended well. All they need is a draw to win first in the group, but I think they will fall to the hosts. Germany 2 Ecuador 1.

Amazingly, T&T still have a shot at the second round. They need to beat Paraguay and have England beat Sweden. One of these outcomes needs to be by more than one goal. Whatever happens, they can be proud of the effort they gave this World Cup. Paraguay must be bitterly disappointed after scoring an own-goal agianst England and giving up a late winner against Sweden. I think they have more quality, but T&T will give it a great run. Still--and I hope I'm wrong--Paraguay 1 T&T 0.

Sweden have a chance to win the group through victory against England. A loss could send them out of the tournament if T&T win and if the goal margins don't go their way. The Swedes have has not lost to England since 1968. England is stronger on paper but are making some line-up changes to protect starters like Steven Gerrard with cards. It will be interesting to see how Rooney handles more minutes and if England can be a great team, as opposed to a collection of great players. Going against my gut that says England may get the Swedish monkey off their back, I'm going with England 1 Sweden 1.

Budweiser is an official sponsor of the World Cup. It's the beer of force, er choice, at all World Cup stadiums. Germans and any beer lovers are understandably unhappy about it. Budweiser, for their part, shows no scruples in making fun of American soccer coverage in marketing their beer internationally. See here and here. Deservedly, Bud has less than 1% of the German market. Thanks Rowboat, for the latter links.

Which US team will show up against Ghana? The entire nation of Ghana will be tuning in to find out after declaring game day a national holiday. Bruce Arena says the U.S. performs well under pressure.

England has complained about the Hand of God goal for 20 years. Any chance they'll be equally flustered about the Hair of Sancho goal scored by Peter Crouch against Trinidad & Tobago?

The backlash against the WAGS begins in Germany. WAGS = Wifes and Girlfriends of the English team. Money quote: English women seem to treat their bodies as something to gradually dismantle. The Germans in contrast want to preserve theirs.
Did I mention that I really hope these old rivals meet in the next round?

Finally, it's time for the Dignan's 75 Year Plan World Cup All-Name Team:

Tranquillo Barnetta, Switzerland. Stylish and soothing.

Manuel Loco, Angola. Offers opponents that unsettling impression of imbalance.

Fred, Brazil. In the Brazilian world of one-name flamboyance, there's simplicity and comfort in just Fred.

Stipe Pletikosa, Croatia. Apparently "Pletikosa" can be translated as "Buck, Berry, Mills."

Torsten Frings, Germany. I don't know why other than it just sounds so freakin' cool.

Dan Quaye, Ghana. Are you kidding me? One letter away from our former vice-president? Is there a Lloyd Bensen anywhere?

Bohdan Shust, Ukraine. Again, just really groovy sounding.

Fabio Grosso, Italy. Fabio. Wasn't he the romance novel coverboy or something? Grosso.

Omar Bravo, Mexico. If for any other reason, memories of Greg Brady's Johnny Bravo linger.

Razak Pimpong, Ghana. Ping pong is my second favorite sport. Ghana has great names.

Hedwiges Maduru, Netherlands. There's an angry inch joke here somewhere.

Stern John, Trinidad & Tobago. Certainly more imposing than Gentle Jonathan.

Any other nominations?

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