Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Group together: B

England

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

Paraguay

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

Sweden

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

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