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Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Group of Death and The Group of Swedes


Well, the World Cup Final Draw is now history and all over Argentina, they're cursing like sailors who've just smashed their fingers with a ball-pean hammer, because they got Holland in their group. They also got a tough African squad in Cote d'Ivoire, and Serbia and Montenegro, who are a fairly difficult side, as are most sides made up of footballers whose countries have been in brutal civil wars in the last two decades. Once you've been in genocidal combat, a good crunching tackle from behind is a walk in the park.

Still, their probably much happier than the Italians, who, although being a top seed and offering the best meatballs the world has ever seen, after Sweden's, got two teams ranked higher than them in the group, the Czech Republic and the U.S.A. (USA! USA! How did they get in this bleeding group and Mexico is playing Iran and Angola?) along with Ghana, probably the toughest of the African teams. This is the Group of Death for this World Cup, and the nice thing is that, generally, Groups of Death produce surprises, which will bode well for the US. In addition, the Czeck Republic promises to be a nightmare for announcers, as their goalkeeper is named Cech. ("Cech saves for the Czechs! He's earned his cheque, has that Czech, Cech!!")

England? England are in the Group of Swedes. I say this because Sweden is in the group, England is coached by a Swede, Sven Goran Eriksson (Whose unknown additional name is Elvis), Trinidad and Tobago, who have a waterboy who is one fifth Swedish, and Paraguay, which used to be the country of South Sweden. All right, I made the third one up (and maybe the last one), but that's still two Swedish connections more than any other group, and one more than any other group would have had, if they had drawn Sweden. So, I think I'm onto something here, which may or may not attract anyone's attention, including yours. Anyway, expect plenty of meatballs in the England vs. Sweden game, and plenty of ale after the England vs. Trinidad-Tobago game. As they say in the U.S., always watch out for those hyphen schools.

I think England have a good group which they should get out of, provided they score goals. Any, I mean. For the US, their road is obviously tougher, but they have enough speed and attacking prowess to give the defensively minded Italians a shock, and payback for the loss to them in the under-20's this year, and also, their coach, the talented and intense Bruce Arena, is Italian-American and can teach his players all the choice words before the match.

Angola are quite happy too. They get to play their old colonizers, Portugal, again. The last time they played Angola had four men sent off, and not for dainty fouls like studs up and elbows to the back of the head. They also get to play Iran, which will be burdened by the knowledge that their new President is a sociopathic loony who might do anything if they lose. Then, Angola gets Mexico, a good side with a superiority complex (actually, I'm just referring to their coach.) Then, if they're really lucky and move on, maybe they'll see Brasil in a later round, so they can shake Ronaldinho's hand before getting trounced 5 to nil. Come to think of it, that is the game plan of most of the members of group F (Brasil, Australia, Croatia, Japan). It's certainly a realistic one. Brasil could split into two teams and meet itself in the Final.

The Germans also have a fairly good draw, in that Holland and The Czechs are not in the group. The bad news is that they have to play Poland, who are still pissed about 1939. That should be a beautifully fought, as opposed to played, game.

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