Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Greatest Spectacle of 2006

Its that time again, where football takes centrestage, grown men drink black coffee in the middle of the night and women 'take care' of themselves for a whole month, a month of football nirvana, culminating in the crowning of the world's best footballing nation come July 9th, 2006.

Foremost on everybody's mind (at least the men..) is which country will grace the podium and hold aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy after a month of competition. Here's the lowdown on the contenders for the mantle of world champions for the next 4 years....

Reigning world champions and perennial favourites Brazil are set to samba their way to the title. Boasting the fantastic four of Ronaldinho, Adriano, Kaka and Ronaldo, they have probably the most exciting team in recent years. Adding to that the forays of Cafu and Roberto Carlos down the flanks, they have 6 attack minded players, with plenty of firepower on the bench, like pedalada king Robinho and free-kick specialist Juninho. If they can curtail their individualism and play as a team, the trophy looks set to remain in Rio. Prediction: My bet for the cup.

Brazil's nemesis and another south american powerhouse. Argentina have won the cup twice and are looking to add to their collection in Germany. This time around, they have an excellent blend of experience and youth, with Ayala and Sorin holding down the back four and the new Maradona, Messi and Riquelme pulling the strings in midfield. Crespo has always been a reliable goal scorer for the argies and he will be banking on both Messi-ah and Riquelme to provide him the ammunition. Prediction: Final Four.

French flair, like wine it gets better with age. This will be Zidane's final hurrah and the perfect sending off would be another victory to add to their 1998 triumph. With Henry in majestic form over the last EPL season, Thuram still looking as solid as ever and newcomer Ribery being hailed as the new wizard in France, the french will be one to watch. Prediction: Quarterfinalists.

The Italians couldn't have wished for a worse preparation to the world cup. Allegations of match fixing scandals in Serie A have threatened to derail the aspirations of the Azzuri. Talk is that camp spirit is intact, but negative vibes abound are sure to have psychological impacts on the players. Totti and co have failed in recent times to impress on the world stage, with a quarterfinal loss to South Korea in the previous championships. A probable 2nd round matchup with Brazil looks to be the furthest they go. Prediction: 2nd round.

Teutonic hosts have won the cup 3 times, with the last one during the heydays of Lothar Matthaeus and Juergen Klinsmann. Their solid play and reliability have always made the Germans one of the favourites at the knockout phases, and as hosts this time around, they should go all the way. Though lacking a little in firepower upfront, Neuville and Klose don't exactly instill fear in opposition, they should still churn out enough 1-0 wins to progress to the final. Players to watch are Ballack and Schweinsteiger. Prediction: Rematch of 2002 Final.

The Oranje. In previous tournaments, the Dutch have always failed, not due to their inability to play football, but internal bickering. This time around, Van Basten has managed to blend the superstar egos and have the Oranje playing as a unit again, reminiscent of Cruyff's total football days. With Stam still patrolling the backline and ably assisted by Bouhlarouz, Van der Vaart and Robben providing the bullets for Nistelrooy, the Dutch look set to cement their place amongst the elite once again. Prediction: Semifinalists.

The golden generation has come and gone. Figo and Rui Costa are past their prime, and new blood has yet to come off the production line bar Cristiano Ronaldo. Pauleta is still labouring upfront for the Portuguese and Deco has just come off an excellent season with Barcelona, but the Portuguese still have some way to go before their names are synonymous with success. Prediction: 2nd Round.

Perennial underachievers. The Spanish armada has been boosted by young blood and experienced heads in their quest for the holy grail come June. Wonderkid Torres leads the line with David Villa making up one of the most exciting strikeforce to come out of Spain in recent history. Xavi and Raul are experienced heads, as are Helguera and Casillas, and if they can blend together as a unit, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Prediction: Last 8.

As always, there are bound to be upsets and dark horses upstaging the perennial favourites. What would the World Cup be without the drama and heart-wrenching upsets? Look out for Ivory Coast, they could make a stand this summer.

Who's your bet for the cup??


At 11:10 AM, Blogger chris said...

my sister assigned teams to everyone in my family. i've got spain :D

At 8:18 PM, Blogger CapArnabBrand said...

Christina Torres.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger cath said...

Viva Italia!!!!

At 9:57 PM, Blogger CapArnabBrand said...

Never really liked the Azzuri. Dunno why...

At 10:31 AM, Blogger cath said...

don't like beckham..don't like the azzuri...i'm not surprised

At 10:00 AM, Blogger CapArnabBrand said...

why is that?

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