Monday, June 12, 2006

Day 4: Demoralized Italians, Competent Gringos, Limping Czechs, Giddy Socceroos and the New Cameroun

Quico says: It's Day 4, and Italy hit the pitch today. Oddly, nobody in Italy seems to care - the recent Serie A corruption scandal has angered and disillussioned Italian fans to such an amazing degree, there is really no world cup atmosphere there. Amazing. The Italians are in no way bad, though they're missing their most exciting players due to injury - especially my favorite Zambrotta. Totti apparently will play today, but Cannavaro is iffy. The demoralised Italians are up against the reputed New Cameroun - Ghana, which is another African first-time-squad that doesn't seem like a first-time-squad, peppered as they are with famous players from top European clubs including the current all-the-rage player in England, Chelsea's Michael Essien. The Ghaneans can hold their own against anyone, and if the Italians manage to shake the habit of buying off the ref, Ghana could even win.

I say Italy 0 - Ghana 0.

Trivia: All 23 Italian players play for Italian clubs.

The USA, reputedly, is no longer a bad team at all. Fifa has them ranked FIFTH in the world, which I find mildly hallucinatory. Landon Donovan, however, is no Michael Ballack and I just can't believe they can really beat the top teams. We should've found out tonight, since they're up against the Euro 2004 revelation Czech Republic - which Fifa ranks SECOND worldwide. (What the hell is up with those Fifa rankings?!? They have Mexico ahead of Argentina!) The Czechs are another of these can-it-really-be-true-that-they've-never-played-a-world-cup? kinda teams. Sadly, their two best players got themselves injured and so may or may not play tonight. Milan Baros - who I guess didn't do very well in the English Premiership but always scores tons of goals for the Czech Team - appears to be out, and worse still Pavel Nedved, the Juventus superstar midfielder and tormentor of defenders, may not play either. I dunno how good the Czechs can be without Nedved, but suspect "not very" is the answer.

I say Czech Republic 2, USA 1 if Nedved plays, 1-1 if he doesn't.

Trivia: Czechoslovakia reached the final twice, in 1934 and 1962.

As for Australia vs. Japan? Erm...well, you do get the sense this is going to be amateur hour in Germany. Both teams have a couple of decentish players (Nakamura, Nakata, Viduka, Kewell) in top teams and a bunch of no-hopers from back home. Though Gus Hidding is a miracle-worker of a coach, the socceroos appear merely happy to have made it to Germany.

So I give it to Japan, by dint of their greater experience, 1-0.

Trivia: Japanese fans famously stay in the stadium after the match is over to clean up after themselves.


Blogger Miguel-O-Matic said...

Another bit of trivia: The US has never beaten a European team in a World Cup held in Europe. But, times they are achanging...

Prediction: USA 2, Czech Republic 1.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Miguel-O-Matic said...

Oh well... What do Cubans know about fĂștbol anyways... ;->

1:53 PM  

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