Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Shiny New Donkey to the Winner of Group B

So, Group B stacks up like this:

Trinidad and Tobago

Much like Group A, this is a grouping without a lot of drama, unless one goes looking for it.
Even with Rooney as a question mark, the question of which teams advance doesn't seem to be up for much debate. Of course, teams who worry about who they might end up facing in the knockout rounds worry about where they end up. But that's not our job here, not yet. We'll talk about the teams, make our predictions, and see where our predictions lead us. Hopefully, we'll do all that before the tournament ends. Or maybe, just maybe, before it starts! We'll see. We like tasty cheap beer and eating very rich chocolates almost as much as we like typing about soccer.

But, so England is currently in the midst of major reshuffling, maybe. I have a hard time seeing Rooney coming back in time to have any sort of impact in this Cup. There has already been plenty written about how little chance the Brits (including the players) give themselves without Rooney. He's a game changer. He's a tough little bastard who has echoes of Stoichov. He radiates intensity to an insane degree. Get a world-class defender drunk (not hard) and he'll probably tell you he'd rather play against Thierry Henry than Wayne Rooney, because Rooney is the kind of forward who plays defense in his offensive zone. I've already written enough about Rooney elsewhere. Let's assume he's not back in time for Group Play.

Does England advance without him? Absolutely. This Group is pretty weak. Do they come in first? I don't know about that.

Paraguay hasn't been cool since Chilavert retired. Not only will we not see a crazy goalie run up 60 yards just to blast a free kick over the opposing goal's crossbar, we probably won't see Paraguay score. They hit hard, though. Their impact could be felt in that way, as there are some very good, but aging players amongst the two top teams in this group. How many hard knocks does Beckham have in him? Henrik Larsson? Zlatan? We'll find out when they play these guys.

I'm not sure how Trini's dad and Tobaggan got into this show. Chalk it up to CONCACAF getting 4, I guess. Easily, the oldest, and least impressive of the 4 in their group, or in the group of CONCACAF qualifiers (and I say this as an unabashed Mexico hater). And I loved some T&T players, back in the day. Remember Dwight Yorke? Stern John? Shaka Hislop? Weren't they awesome like 10 years ago? Not a one has retired from International Football, which tells you everything you need to know about Trinidad and Tobago.

Sweden, may be the new sexy pick for group B. They have some fucking talent, though some of it is getting pretty long in the tooth. Henrik Larsson (which is Swedish for Lars' Son) retired from international play before the 2004 Euro Cup, but keeps coming back. He's like Madonna, but with talent. Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs to get his shot right, but on the ball, he's on off the most talented players on the ball in the world. Freddie Ljungberg is pretty and also dangerous on the ball. They are my pick to win the group.

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