Saturday, June 24, 2006

The last sixteen

Big hair 2, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Not too many surprises in the last sixteen, but particularly well done to newcomers Ghana and Ukraine and also Australia.

We now know the course of the teams until the final

Germany/Sweden v Argentina/Mexico
Italy/Australia v Switzerland/Ukraine

England/Ecuador v Portugal/Holland
Brazil/Ghana v Spain/France

None of these paths looks easy and Germany's looks particularly difficult, having to possibly cope with Sweden, Argentina and Italy. Normally, they manage to clear an easy path through to the final for the host nation (like France 1998), but although Germany will avoid Brazil until the final, if both get that far.

My favoured semi-finals would be Argentina v Italy and England v Brazil, but that is most unlikely to happen.

Least favourite would be something like Mexico v Ukraine and Portugal v France - or is that being nasty?

But, at the end of the day, it just has to be hoped that the best football gets rewarded and that games are not marred by silly refereeing decisions. And, please... not too many penalty shoot outs!

As for England, the English are saying that they have the best chance for a long time to progress in the World Cup. I think this is based on the fact that certain players have been hyped up tremendously, because that is what happens in the world today, more than the fact that they have shown themselves to be playing very well as a team. Sometimes it looks as if the hype is feeding through to egos and this is working against the team. I would like to know, where in this team do we find an Alan Shearer, Pauld Gascoigne, Bobby Robson or Gary Lineker, to name but a few? If England can put on performabes like they did against Brazil in 2002 and Argentina in 1998, and improve on those, they will have a great chance. But, they still have to reveal themselves.

To be honest, I am fearing the worst against Holland, who for once seem to have stopped bickering amongst each other and are playing as a team.

Worried for Italy because they are having trouble scoring goals. Their match against Australia could be ver tough on them. It would be cruel fate for Italy to go out, like in 2002 to a resurgent team led by Guus Hiddink.

Germany seem to be riding on a wave of home team enthusiasm, and you can never right them off.

Interesting to see that Brazil, Spain and france will all have eliminated themselves out to just one semi-finalist, that is if Ghana don't come up and surprise us all again - they also need better finishing, but are capable.


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