Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Group together: H

Saudi Arabia

How they got here: Unbeaten in qualifying
Best player left at home: Who knows, really
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Saudi players don't tend to travel much, although surely a well placed shirt sponsorship would sort that out
Likelihood of camp divisions: Low
Where it could all go wrong: The same way it always does - they play games in the finals
UK media prefix: Inevitable
Googlism says: Nothing
We reckon: Home before the postcards, as they say

Spain

How they got here: Unbeaten but still behind Serbia & Montenegro in their group, then a 5-1 first leg play-off win against Slovakia sealed the deal
Best player left at home: Fernando Morientes and Ruben Baraja were left out, Asier Del Horno has pulled out (Jose again, probably)
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Most of them seem safe where they are, but give Del Horno a year
Likelihood of camp divisions: Medium
Where it could all go wrong: It's Spain. We all know what they do in World Cups
UK media prefix: Perennially underachieving
Googlism says: "fernando torres is the secretary and dr myriam dumas hahn is the treasurer of the society"
We reckon: Again, we know what Spain do - get out of an easy group then fall almost immediately. This might well however be their best chance of actually winning a couple of knockout games for a few years

Tunisia

How they got here: Needed a late equaliser against Morocco to go through
Best player left at home: No-one, really
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Far too big a club for the types of places their players are tempted to
Likelihood of camp divisions: Low to middling
Where it could all go wrong: Have only won their first ever World Cup finals game, got knocked out of the African Cup Of Nations in the quarters and never do well against established countries
UK media prefix: Naive
Googlism says: No chance
We reckon: Roger Lemerre is a canny boss saddled with an unpredictable team. They could get through, they could get no points. Probably the latter more than the former

Ukraine

How they got here: The first Europeans to book their places, despite being in a group with Turkey, Denmark and Greece
Best player left at home: Sergei Fedorov is injured
Player most likely to be linked with Spurs: Don't want Rebrov back, do they?
Likelihood of camp divisions: Doubtful
Where it could all go wrong: Not much strength in depth
UK media prefix: Stubborn
Googlism says: "andriy shevchenko is known better to someone than all of those people"
We reckon: Obviously there's plenty of potential strike power, which allied with an element of reliability could see them in the last eight at least

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