Thursday, June 01, 2006

Group together: C

Argentina

How they got here: First South American side to qualify, eventually finishing second
Best player left at home: Former captain and boy wonder Javier Zanetti
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez are perhaps out of their budgetary restraints. Javier Mascherano? Probably been linked already
Likelihood of camp divisions: Probably less than in recent finals
Where it could all go wrong: There's a lot of half-fit players in the squad and Jose Pekerman has yet to find his best XI
UK media prefix: Swarthy
Googlism says: "juan roman riquelme is also a great person"
We reckon: Short odds, but they've hardly set tournaments ablaze since 1986 and for all their style will need a lot of players to play consistently well throughout the tournament to mount a serious challenge

Holland

How they got here: Were given quite a tricky group, and pissed it. Beat the Czechs twice too
Best player left at home: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, scorer of more than 50 goals in all competitions this season, and Hamburg's Nigel De Jong
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Mark van Bommel. It's inevitable
Likelihood of camp divisions: Come on, it's Holland!
Where it could all go wrong: See above. Also question marks about experience
UK media prefix: Dashing
Googlism says: "ruud van nistelrooy is on the cover of tom waits' 'used songs'?"
We reckon: Almost have more reputation weighing them down then England have, and in this group an early exit might just be on the cards

Ivory Coast

How they got here: Sneaked in as group winners while continental giants Cameroon and Egypt were tying each other in knots
Best player left at home: St Etienne regular Siaka Tiene
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Most of them, probably. We'd take a flyer on Marc Zoro, Messina's attempted walk-off defender, and possibly Lens' reliable striker Aruna Dindane
Likelihood of camp divisions: Low
Where it could all go wrong: Inexperience, the old favourite, and also questions over their ability at the sharp end of affairs
UK media prefix: Indomitable (possibly)
Googlism says: "kolo toure is red"
We reckon: The best African qualifiers have run into rotten luck in the draw. If they can avoid a first round choke they could do just as well as Senegal did last time

Serbia & Montenegro

How they got here: One of the most impressive qualifiers, unbeaten top of a group including Spain, Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina
Best player left at home: Mirko Vucinic, Lecce striker who was rivalling Kezman for a place until picking up an injury
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Dejan Stankovic seems the type, or alternately taller than Crouch striker Nikola Zigic
Likelihood of camp divisions: Surely higher since coach Ilija Petkovic picked his own son Dusan as Vucinic's replacement. See, that's why Cloughie never became England manager after all
Where it could all go wrong: Questions over midfield strength and consistency
UK media prefix: Rugged
Googlism says: "mateja kezman is de irritatie"
We reckon: No fireworks but consistent. Whether that'll be enough in this company is another matter altogether

6 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

What a group that is...

Can't believe Zanetti's been left out - great player.

I think Mascherano HAS already been linked with Spurs - he's a midfielder, after all...

As for the Dutch, where do they keep finding great strikers? Huntelaar's omission is surprising, but the strikers they have included - van Nistelrooy, van Persie, Robben, Kuyt, Vennegoor of Hesselink (had to be included just for his name...) - are all quality. The likes of Kluivert, Makaay, Hasselbaink and van Hoojidonk have all been forgotten quickly. All just goes to flag up our own shortage in that department.

3:58 pm, June 02, 2006

 
Anonymous Tim said...

Zakora comes through on the rails!

10:08 am, June 05, 2006

 
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