2006 World Cup: Group F preview
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TEAMS: Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan
Well, obviously, this group is all about 2nd place. Everyone has already given 1st to the best team in the world. Other than a quick look in to watch Brazil tune-up for their Championship run, there’s little of interest from this group. Even the weak sister that manages to stumble into the next round will surely make their exit there.
Nothing else really needs to be said about Brazil. They have one of the best players in the world at every position. Even their goal, the usual lone weakness, is ably defended by Dida now. The list of superstars is endless led by the best player in the world Ronaldinho. The original Ronaldo is still there, Kaka, Cafu, Roberto Carlos… You get the sense they’re “C” team would rank among the top in the world. They’re just dazzling. The only problem could be just that. They’re the best. They know it. They know everyone else knows it. Sometimes they don’t feel the need to prove it.
Croatia is the most likely to win the second spot. They’re very strong defensively, and can shut down just about anyone. If they can just get a handful of goals from Dado Prso, and Darijo Srna, they’ll live to play on for one more round.
Australia may be on their last soccer legs. This could be the tournament that gets that country focused back on the Aussie rules football, and rugby once and for all. With a gaggle of players that perform decently, but don’t seem to be anything special in the English Premier League–the likes of Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill–they’ll struggle for second even in this weak group.
Since this World Cup is not being played in their country, Japan hasn’t much of a chance this time, either. They’re still relatively new to the soccer scene and are definitely moving up, but there’s a long way to go. Their big draw is actually more of an amusement for the little girls, who seem to treat the flashy keeper Kawaguchi like a rock star.
So it’s Brazil here, and then everyone else in a ragged heap. Croatia actually has 3 players from Australia while Australia has 3 Croats. The Japanese coach is the Brazilian, Zico. So everything about this group has a mish-mash feel to it. Anyone of the other three could slip into second. Croatia has a slight edge, but if they can’t manage to get it into the net, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Australia has one of the best coaches in the world in Gus Hiddink, so he may squeeze just enough out of his bog standard charges to get them through. Japan would need the most good fortune, but it wouldn’t be the biggest shock ever. Matters little, Brazil is headed for the final, everyone else in this group is fodder.
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