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June 12, 2006 - Image 15

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-06-12

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SPORT

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 12, 2006 - 15

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WORLD Cup 2006: GROUP-BY-GROUP PREVIEWS AND PREDICTIONS
Group A: Group C: Group E: Group G:

Group A should be fun. Host country Germany is Aside from Rocky's victory over Ivan Drago
the lone powerhouse and ought to walk through the in Rocky IV, few athletic events can claim
opening round without too much trouble. But the bat- responsibility for ending wars, but the Ivory
tle for second place will be intriguing as Costa Rica, Coast's qualification for the World Cup has had
Poland and Ecuador fight for respect. Ecuador was ter- a similar effect on the country's civil war. And
rific in qualifying, Costa Rica has a solid goal-scorer in the team is serious about contending. After fail-
Paulo Wanchope and Poland has much to prove after ing to make it out of the group stage in 2002, the
failing to reach the UEFA Euro finals in 2004. Expect ever-talented Argentineans should have a chip
Germany, behind its passionate home crowd, to come on their shoulders. The Netherlands (and their
out on top and score a lot of goals. And look for Ecua- orange jerseys) is often dubbed the best team
dor to play consistently enough to edge out Poland for never to win the World Cup. Even Serbia-Mon-
the second position. tenegro, who finished ahead of Spain in World
- David VandeVusse Cup qualifying, believes they can advance.
The picks: Ecuador and Germany - Ian Robinson
The picks: Argentina and the Netherlands

Group B:
Group B has already demonstrated the importance
of strong defense. Only one goal has been scored in
the entire group - an own-goal prompted by a David
Beckham free kick against Paraguay in the first two
minutes of the match. Trinidad and Tobago played a
similar game against Sweden, the tiny nation holding
the Scandinavian powerhouse to a0-0 draw in its first
appearance at the World Cup. England is the favorite
to win the group, but to beat Sweden, it will have to
move the ball better than it did against Paraguay. lf
England beats Trinidad and Tobago, it'll be comfort-
ably at the front of the group, but the Caribbean nation
has proven that it's not just in Germany for a vacation.
- Jeremy Davidson
The picks: England and Sweden

It's not considered the "Group of Death" for
nothing. The Czech Republic, United States and
Italy are ranked Nos. 2, 5 and 13, respectively, in
the world. The Czechs and Italians have the two
best teams on paper but this will be the first time
the Czech Republic plays on the world's largest
stage. Look out for an American upset this after-
noon because the United States is battle tested and
has something to prove due to the lack of respect
given to them. Despite its internal problems, Italy
will be the other team to move on. Ghana will just
receive the "thanks-for-coming" ribbon.
- H Jose Bosch
The picks: Italy and the United States
Group F:
Defending World Cup champion, Brazil, is in
Group F. Does that leave Australia, Japan and
Croatia to battle for the second and last spot
left? Not necessarily, but most likely. Evenly
matched Australia and Japan will attempt
to rattle the flashy Brazilians. Expect virus-
stricken Croatia to fight to keep up. If recov-
ered, the well-balanced Croatia field could pose
as Brazil's toughest competition. Following a
32-year absence, the hungry Socceroos will
look to make a splash in the field. It's a safe bet
that Brazil will win the group and the Aussies
will advance, too.
- Katie Field

With the sting of their embarrassing first-
round exit in Korea/Japan 2002 still fresh in
their minds, France looks to be ateam on a mis-
sion, which should make the 1998 FIFA World
Cup champion a dark horse to win it all again.
With the French all but certain to advance, the
remaining spot into the elimination round will
go so Switzerland, Korean Republic or Togo.
Switzerland seems to have the best shot. Korean
Republic struggled recently to qualify, and Togo
lacks World Cup experience.
- Imran Syed
The picks: France and Switzerland
Group H:
If Group E is the "Group of Death," then Group H
is the "Group of Apathy." Nobody is too excited about
this group outside of the four countries involved. Spain
is the lone team here that's experienced in World Cup
play, and should be a lock to advance. The battle for
the second spot should be tight, but will probably go
to the team that messes up less, rather than a teamthat
truly plays well. Saudi Arabia embarrassed itself last
World Cup with an 8-0 loss at the hands of Germany,
Tunisia's offense is usually non-existent and Ukraine ,
has never played in a World Cup before. In the end,
the offensive star power Ukraine has in strikerAindriy
Shevchenko shouldbe enough to push it into the round
of 16 to go with powerhouse Spain.
- ScottBeh

Group D:
Even though it's almost a given that Portugal and
Mexico will be the pair to advance out of Group D,
the soccer should still be interesting. Despite a possible
bloodbath in their opener against Angola - the last
match between the two was suspended 20 minutes
early after four Angolans were sent off - the Por-
tuguese should advance with relative ease. Mexico
appeared to be in trouble when goalkeeper Oswaldo
Sanchez left the team when his father died, but now
he's back. Iran has an outside chance of some upsets,
but injuries should keep them from threatening any-
one. Angola should be the bottom feeders of Group D.
- James V Dowd

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