Sunday, June 18, 2006

A difficult group E

A few days ago it seemed like group E was going to belong to Italy and the Czech. This is now dramatically all over. First Ghana trashed the Czechs (see previous post). But the next game, Italy vs. US saw a tie in spite of Italy having a one man advantage for half of the game (an ugly game it seems). This by itself speaks volume about the real vulnerability of Italy. At this points all bets are off as passing to the next round is not a given for any of these teams.

Italy has it easiest. With 4 points it needs a tie against the Czechs next game to secure a position. Expect to see the feared cattenacio in all of its horror. But if Italy loses, the only thing that can save it is a tie between Ghana and the US at 0-0 (I think but I am not sure, as well as for any other calculation, too late at night to really check it out).

The Czechs of course must win against Italy. A tie will place their fate on the Ghana-US result. Nedved has played the Italians enough (tricks and players) to make the Italy resistance difficult. Thus wisely Italy should try to win anyway by attacking but I do not expect them to do so and instead slide back in the outrageous defensive game that is their irksome trademark.

Ghana is in a similar position as the Czech, it must win. The way the US is playing it seems quite possible, except that the US is probably as tough as Ghana and Ghana might have outspent itself today. A tie will imply that it needs Italy to win its game, or tie 0-0 while Ghana ties 1-1. Thus Ghana is a tad less favored than the Czech and had better play it safe by going all out to win.

The US is in more trouble, though still doable. A win is enough as long as Italy does not tie the Czech. Then it depends of the scores in the tied games, the US needing a 3 point victory to be on the safe side. That comes of course from the 3:0 drumming against the Czech last week.

Thus all is excitingly possible and this pundit refuses to make a prediction. Thanks to the new counting system three teams will have to go the Braveheart way, and even Italy might be dragged into some real action.

2 Comments:

Blogger Francisco said...

USA! USA! USA!!!

Last night was sooooo much fun! The Americans will go down in history as the only team ever to have learned to play futbol in 4 days!!! What HAPPENED between their first game and their second?

I loved their energy, I loved that Cherontuolo guy on the right flank, and I loved how they made the cocky Italians look bad.

Once again the refereeing was attrocious, but this time it wasn't unfair - the ref was an equal opportunity bad-call maker.

I agree the Italians are in trouble if they can't beat the US with one extra player. I think Lippi is eventually going to have to realize that Totti and Pirlo can't play side-by-side, and that Pirlo is better in the center of midfield. Leaving Totti on the bench pisses off the fan base, but it'd be the smart choice. Anyway, having to waste a substitution to bring in Gattuso after half an hour is a waste.

The Gringos will have problems with disqualified players against Ghana...but then Ghana also has some serious disqualifications...Essien will be out.

Group E is the New Group of Death! THIS is what the World Cup is about...

7:43 AM  
Blogger Juancho said...

Quico, what you should be asking is what happened to the gringos in the first game, not against Italy. They have been showing that they can compete at this level for a couple of years now. They apparently fell asleep in the game against the Czechs.

As for they disqualifications, they are better off without Pope. Mastroeni's loss will hurt though. I just hope they keep Beasly on the bench this time. What a gutless performance. His only action was the goal that was taken away due to the McBride off sides.

1:02 PM  

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