Friday, June 02, 2006

World Cup Preview - Group B

As we count down toward the World Cup Opening match on June 9th, The Middle Foam Finger will be offering capsule previews of each of the World Cup groups, one group per day.

Group B
Trinidad & Tobago

England came into the World Cup as one of the favorites to win the whole thing, mainly on the fact that they have a pretty good team plus one of the most exciting players in the world, Wayne Rooney. Famous for his incredible goals and relentless play (and infamous for his problems with gambling and humping grannies), Roons managed to go and break his foot late in the English season, meaning that he's questionable for the World Cup.

Of course, this has created a media circus that threatens to be so over-the-top that "circus" may not even appropriate anymore. Regardless of his injury, Rooney will be going to Germany with the English team and hopefully taking some of the media attention away from Beckham, AKA Mr. Posh.

Beckham has been fighting against a backlash in his native land, as he apparently isn't "English" enough. Hmm, let's see, he's rich, he's popular around the world, he's actually fairly good-looking and so is his wife. I guess they're right.

All mocking the English aside, Becks is a bit of an albatross since he can really only play one position, that being out on the right wing and while his excellent crosses compensate for his lack of pace on the offensive end, he remains a defensive liability. That, and his famous red cards and missed penalties sum up the English tendency to crap the bed (or, if you prefer, "pull a Davenport") in big games.

A tendency that leads me to believe that they will get pipped for the top group spot by Sweden, will have to face the Germans in the second round and will probably lose to The Hun on penalties.

Sweden has a solid and workmanlike team until you get to the forward position, where they have two of the best strikers in the competition.

Okay, Larsson is old and Ibrahimovic had a poor year with Juventus, still, they're both class and have played together enough to be very dangerous. Not dangerous enough to make up for the mediocrity of the rest of the squad (note to Freddie Ljungberg: No, you're not that good anymore); they should be able to make it to the second round and probably the quarterfinals though.

Paraguay is a dull team. Expect all their matches to be either 0-0 or 1-0 as Paraguay kicks lumps out of anybody with the temerity to go across the halfway line, whether they have the ball or not. Without the completely insane Chilavert in net, there isn't much to say about them, so let's not.

It's tough to write anything about Trinidad and Tobago without falling down the well of "cheeky little team, what upstarts, if they win a game, it's ganja for everybody for months". They've even got a token white player who, like most of the rest of the team, plays in the English lower divisions, oooh, the underdogginess of it all is enough to make me barely keep my breakfast down. I'm still rooting for them though, even if the whole thing seems like a Disney setup.

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