Tuesday, June 06, 2006

FIFA World Cup - My Four Favorites !

The Fifa World Cup 2006, billed as the greatest sporting event on earth, is just round the corner. However, personally for me, the excitement is missing this time with more time being spent in settling down in Bangalore and in the new company. The last world cup was a different ball game with lot of predictor games being played within our groups, gang, etc. This time, the excitement is just catching up.

For me, the last world cup was a disappointment with 3 out of 4 favorites crashing out in the first stage itself and the fourth one (Italy) crashing out in a rather disappointing manner in the second round. This time I have my list of the 4 favorites (personal favorites and not necessarily favorites to win the cup) and I plan to track their progress religiously !

Favorite No. 4 : Espania
Currently No. 5 in the world, this team makes it into my list of top 4 purely because of my attachment towards the country. However they are in very good form and have been unbeaten in the last 21 encounters.

Players to watch
Casillas [GK]
Puyol Carlos [D]
Xavi [M]
Torres Fernando [F]
Luis Garcias [F]
Raul [F] (look out for his come-back)

My Prediction
Expect them to have an easy path till Quarter final where they would meet Brazil or Czech Republic !

Favorite No. 3 : Italy
A poor FIFA ranking of 13, Italy usually has the best defence in the world. However this is being seriously challenged by other countries like England and Italy has a point to prove. Their defence is mostly not matched by the attack which is usually lop-sided and lacking creativity!

Players to watch
Buffon [GK]
Nesta [D]
Cannavaro [D]
Totti [M] - Watch out for him - He has always missed the major tournaments. If he stays on for the entire tournament, he could make a difference
Del Piero [F]

My Prediction
On current form they may not proceed beyond round two where they would meet Brazil ! However if they win top their pool in the first round, you can see them sail past all rounds till the semi-finals

Favorite No. 2 : Netherlands
The orange team, with a ranking of 3, has a real chance of making it to the finals and also winning the world cup. It has remained silent for most part leading to the world cup. However it has a tough path leading to the finals and it would be a real test of character for the orange team.
Players to watch
Van der sar [GK]
Cocu [M]
Van Nistelrook [F]
Robben [F]

My Prediction
They have a good chance of making it to the final and on the way may bring down the curtains on Germany or England !

Favorite No. 1 : Argentina
Always my number 1 favorite, right from the time I started watching the world cups. The first world cup that I saw (live) was the one in Mexico where Maradonna driblled and dazzled to lead Argentina to victory. Since then Argentina has always been my number 1 ! Though ranked no. 9 in the world, expect them to give some great performances !

Players to watch
Ayala [D]
Riquelme [M]
Pablo Aimar [M]
Crespo [F]
Messi Lionel [F] - Hope he justifies all the hype !

My Prediction
The World Cup !! If they end up being runners up in their group, then expect an Argentina - England clash in the quarter finals ! No matter what the opposition, it would be worth to watch all their matches.

Finally, I would love if the final was played between Argentina and Netherlands ! But I just hope that all these teams dont crash out by round 2.

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