Thursday, June 08, 2006

World Cup Day 1. Analysis and Predictions

So Day 1 gives us two games only. The hosts open up the cup, followed by a country often "visited by" the hosts. Let's get a rollin, Goddamnit! World Cup! World Cup! World Cup!

Game 1: Germany vs. Costa Rica. To the somewhat casual fan, this game may look like a fucking easy call. A boring game. Host, European Giants, Germany rolling over shitty little Costa Rica. And the casual fan may be right. But to me, this has potential for upset written all over it. But of course, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I routinely lose NCAA Basketball brackets to women who pick based on the more ferocious mascot. So, with that caveat out of the way, let's analyze these sides a bit.

Germany is a powerhouse, traditionally. Great players have come out of this country, fairly routinely. Beckenbauer, the best offensive minded defender to ever play the game. Vogts, Mattheus, and god, literally dozens of others. When you talk about teams that have been great for past 40-60 years or more, Germany is in the top 6, easy. They are coached by one of their more recent "great" players, Klinsmann, who I hated. He finished well, but he was a flop artiste, and as a defender, it made me sick to see the calls he got.

And here's the thing--all of those classic guys who are still alive? Beckenbauer, Vogts, etc have been commenting on how this is the shittiest German side we've seen in a generation. Worse than last cup's (who needed some serious love from the Ref to get by the US). This team, if it weren't at home would be a great pick to send home early.

Now, Costa Rica, doesn't have any tradition to speak of. They play in the CONCACAF, which has been ruled by the USA and Mexico for the past 20 years or so. And never, ever forget that the US got to the finals in 1998, and they were the WORST TEAM there. I look forward to pissing on Steve Sampson's grave, and the grave of the 3-6-1.

Anywho, the Ticos are not known for winning Cups. They haven't won any. They aren't know from their sly technicians on the ball. Costa Rica is known for playing hard, borderline dirty. They were the 3rd place finisher in the CONCACAF, which means they've beaten teams like Panama.

But they are a tough draw for Germany, despite appearances. They are very physical. Germans, especially ones coached by Klinsmann like to flop. We'll see yellow cards in this match, I guarantee it. Whether it is for so-called fouls, real fouls, or simulation (neophytes--"simulation" is when a player fakes getting fouled in the hopes of getting a free kick. In basketball, flops are ignored, part of the game. In soccer, you flop too often, you get kicked out, and your team plays a man down for the rest of the match). How the officials call this game may well determine the outcome.

Key facts for this match:

1. Germany is without their best player, Michael Ballack.
2. The best goal scorer on the pitch will be Costa Rican striker, Paulo Wanchope.
3. The Germans are opening the World Cup, being played in Germany. The officials will be under immense pressure to call a game favorable to the Germans.

Prediction: In a shocker, Germany 1, Costa Rica 1

Game 2: Poland vs. Ecuador. To the casual fan, this game may appear to be roughly equal. Mid-level European team vs. mid-level South American team? It isn't. The drop-off in South American talent is staggering, and the Poles are a solid European squad.

Poland should be clear favorites to win this match. They are tough but clean in defense. They punish mistakes on offense, and I really can't think of a way to make Ecuador a factor in this game. In light of these facts, my key points will be just three Polish joke punchlines.

1. It has screendoors.
2. They'll go at night.
3. Because they are so damn stupid. (Sam McMurray is a fucking God)

Prediction: Poland 2, Ecuador 0

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