Sunday, June 25, 2006

World Cup Diary: Round 2 Predictions-II

Do you know when football wins?

When fans of curling start watching. My sources tell me we have one such person finally watching the World Cup.

I collected my first pool point as Germany demolished Sweden 2-0. The final score is nowhere close to indicate the overwhelming domination the Germans enjoyed in the proceedings. Even a score of 5-0 would have had left the Swedes little to complain about.

By the way, I am not taking any credit for the pick — my mom picked Germany too — so I remain humble, as always.

I almost made an ass of myself in the Argentina-Mexico game. My upset factor for that game was 1/10 showing how much respect Meh-hee-co earned by their uninspiring performances during the group matches. In hindsight, it should have been 7/10 because Mexico almost pulled off an improbable victory.

Argentina should have won the game in regulation, their legit goal in the dying seconds was disallowed for offside. That's the worst piece of officiating in the cup not including the fouls called. I also noticed the same assistant referee screwed up at least on two other calls. Both were onsides that were ruled offsides. FIFA should immediately send him back to his home couch where he can rest in peace.

The highlight of today's game is the goal of the tournament, courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez. I know we still have a lot left in the Cup, but his dipping volley from the corner box into the far corner of the net has to be the runaway winner unless someone comes up with another borderline insane goal. You can quote me for that to an English fan who are still eating their bread dipped in the sauce made from Steven Gerrard.

Enough, now back to my crystal ball.

England over Ecuador

What do you call a match between hype and about-time? England vs Ecuador.

England never impressed anyone except their die-hard fans. More than 150 of them were reportedly arrested today at Stuttgart. In fact, a lot of reasonable English fans (they do exist) will swear what Eriksson is doing to England is what he was doing four years ago to Ulrika Jonsson, or more recently to Fariah Alam.

But he does have a bunch of superstars only if they start playing to their reputation minus the hype.

You can start with David Beckham, the English skipper and face of the team, who's just playing on his past glory and Eriksson doesn't have the balls to drop him from the starting eleven. Eriksson might not have the guts to drop his dead-man-walking captain but he certainly hasn't lost his wit:

'I am not married to him, even if you think I am. I'm not even engaged to him.'

And you can end with Peter Crouch.

But the coach is confident, or at least he makes an effort to sound like one:

"We have reached the stage of life or death for the team now, not just for me, and that is extremely exciting. I think we will thrive on it and firmly believe you will see a better performance from England. We will play good football and we will win."

We hear ya.

Upset factor: 4/10.

By the way, if England loses, here's a suggested headline for the British tabloids: "BOTCH IT LIKE BECKHAM"

Portugal over Holland

This is one hell of a tough call. But I would still favor Portugal, although this could go either way. I never like the Dutch anyway.

History favors Portugal. They always seem to get the better off their more storied rivals who appeared in the finals of the World Cup in 1974 and 1978, losing both. In the last 16 years, the two teams faced each other five times (excluding friendlies), Holland managed to win only once, losing three and one game was drawn. Last time they met, in the Euro 2004 semifinals, Portugal took the honors by a margin 2-1.

Upset factor: 6/10



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