Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Group together: B


How they got here: By taking Poland on the line to win their group
Best player left at home: Which is worse, Shaun Wright-Phillips' omission from the squad or Ian Wright's resultant carping about it being a personal decision by Sven?
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Er...
Likelihood of camp divisions: None. Really, when are there ever?
Where it could all go wrong: Wayne Rooney ruled out and reshaped midfield behind Michael Owen fails to work
UK media prefix: Our boys
Googlism says: "sven goran eriksson is tipped to enter the charts at number one"
We reckon: They've got enough to get to the quarter-finals given the draw, certainly. What then is cast to the fates, as usual


How they got here: Slipping into the final CSF qualification place
Best player left at home: None obvious
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Nelson Haedo Valdez, young Werder Bremen striker whose arrival in the national first eleven transformed their ailing campaign
Likelihood of camp divisions: Not with a playsafe squad such as this
Where it could all go wrong: A defence almost willing opponents on to be exposed
UK media prefix: Doughty
Googlism says: "roque santa cruz is lying in front of his bench because of an undefined injury"
We reckon: Said to be better than the last two teams they sent over, still suspect but could surprise


How they got here: As a best runner-up after a tooth and nail group battle with Croatia
Best player left at home: Previously first choice keeper Eddie Gustafsson, after being dropped by his club
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, if Juve don't want him any more
Likelihood of camp divisions: Decent, given there was an actual set of fisticuffs during training in 2002
Where it could all go wrong: Not a great deal of back-up, England record or no England record
UK media prefix: Dark horses
Googlism says: "freddie ljungberg is sponsering jayne ludlow"
We reckon: So England have an easy group, do they? With Sweden's forward going potential and stereotypical organisational skill?

Trinidad & Tobago

How they got here: Via a two-legged playoff against Bahrain, having come fourth in CONCACAF. World game and that, but surely there's limits to how far down we must go to find finals qualifiers
Best player left at home: Who knows? One Silvio Spann has pulled out of the squad through injury
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Yorke won't come back to that big a Premiership club, surely
Likelihood of camp divisions: Unlikely
Where it could all go wrong: Oh, in all sorts of ways, not least journalists rewriting their Jamaica pieces from eight years ago replacing 'reggae' with 'soca'
UK media prefix: Colourful
Googlism says: "dwight yorke is always displaying the ivory? probably not"
We reckon: Leo Beenhakker talks a good game, certainly better than his team will play

The South American Pat Jennings

As referred to yesterday, and bearing in mind while you watch this that keeper Tomasz Kuszczak of West Brom was preferred in the squad to Jerzy Dudek, here's Colombia's keeper scoring from further out than Higuita ever did:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Group together: A

Costa Rica

How they got here: Third in CONCACAF, just ahead of Trinidad & Tobago
Best player left at home: Er...
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Walter Centeno, experienced playmaker key to Saprissa's rise on the continent
Likelihood of camp divisions: As decent as ever
Where it could all go wrong: It probably already looks like doing so given they lost to a Catalan XI last week
UK media prefix: Exciting
Googlism says: "paolo wanchope is enjoying his 'i'm impossible to tackle' phase"
We reckon: Will be tricky opponents who will get goals. Whether they'll do anything more remains to be seen


How they got here: Looked tight at the end, but finished third behind the inevitable two in South America mostly on their home form
Best player left at home: Franklin Salas, young striker known as The Wizard ruled out with a knee injury
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Edison Mendez, who's evolved in the last four years from holding midfielder to vicious playmaker
Likelihood of camp divisions: There might not be much camp left to divide given two officials have already been denied visas on people smuggling charges
Where it could all go wrong: When they play a game at sea level
UK media prefix: Naive
Googlism says: "agustin delgado is taking pain"
We reckon: Flattering to deceive a speciality


How they got here: By hosting it, the cheeky mares
Best player left at home: But they're all at h...oh, right. Dietmar Hamann retired from international football in a huff after being left out
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: All of them, with a source claiming Jurgen recommended White Hart Lane
Likelihood of camp divisions: Very low, you'd think, but parts of the DFB have publicly fallen out with Klinsmann
Where it could all go wrong: Creaky defence, unsure attack, no great strength in depth
UK media prefix: Efficient, and plenty more besides but let's not get into that
Googlism says: "jurgen klinsmann is remarkably jovial about this bet"
We reckon: Never write off the Germans, obviously, so they should make it to the last eight. Beyond that, we'll see


How they got here: Lost points in only two of their twelve qualifying games. To England on both occasions, yes
Best players left at home: Top scorer in qualifying Tomasz Frankowski, former captain Tomasz Klos, regular full back Tomasz Rzasa, Emmanuel Olisadebe and Jerzy Dudek. And you thought Sven was dicing it a little
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Grzegorz Rasiak! Or Maciej Zurawski from Celtic
Likelihood of camp divisions: Dark horses for it
Where it could all go wrong: The squad is exposed as lacking in depth, especially after a couple of pullouts. That said, all their bad luck could have come at once tonight when Colombia's Luis Enrique Martinez scored direct from a kickout
UK media prefix: Dour
Googlism says: Doesn't seem to recognise any of the squad's names
We reckon: Could do anything, to be truthful, especially in an unpredictable group

Monday, May 29, 2006


And hello to you from Finals Fantasy, the World Cup blog technically a spinoff from It's Up For Grabs Now but really a collaborative work with a number of other people, some or all of whom will hopefully be contributing over the next few days. We'll be previewing the tournament and making wry commentary on the stories, events, tie-ins and such tat as we go, and when the thing actually gets underway we'll be making an undertaking to cover every last game as we see it - those who caught our Euro 2004 blog Lisbonic Plague or subscribe to our TV review mailout Armchair Football will pretty much be ahead of the game. Tomorrow, we commence previewing the 32 teams involved. Stay with us, why don't you.