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

Ecuador

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

Germany

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

Poland

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

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