Many call the World Cup the best sporting event on the planet, and considering soccer's popularity in other parts of the globe, it's hard to argue with that claim. Football, as most people in the world refer to it, carries the kind of global appeal that Bud Selig, Paul Tagliabue and David Stern would kill for, and for one month every four years, the sport's biggest stars take the pitch with one goal in mind: win it all.
Below, you'll find breakdowns of the tournament from two of our writers. Mike Barkacs takes an in-depth look at each group and discusses who he thinks has the best shot at advancing while John Palazzo broke the tournament down into the frontrunners, strong sides, Cinderellas and the leftovers. Mike and John certainly don't agree on everything but they each offer insightful commentary on the 2006 World Cup.
By Mike Barkacs
Group A preview
Germany, Poland, Costa Rica, Ecuador
Group B preview
England, Sweden, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago
Group C preview
Argentina, Holland, Ivory Coast, Serbia Montenegro
Group D preview
Portugal, Mexico, Angola, Iran
Group E preview
Italy, Czech Republic, United States, Ghana
Group F preview
Brazil, Croatia, Australia, Japan
Group G preview
France, Switzerland, South Korea, Togo
Group H preview
Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia
By John Palazzo
John places Germany and Brazil in this group. Find out who else he thinks has an excellent chance to reach the semifinals.
Teams like Italy and Sweden may not be favorites, but they're certainly strong enough to advance deep in the tournament.
The United States is just one team that could catch fire and find themselves in the quarter or semifinals.
The also-rans and longshots that won't be making much noise this summer, plus several teams that could surprise.
For the Newbies
We realize that not everyone is a soccer fan, but now is the perfect time to pick up the game. John Palazzo offers a starter course for the uninitiated while also discussing how and when he first caught football fever.
Blog the World Cup
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