February 2006

World Cup: More Time = No Artillery

in News & Features

Eriksson argues that FIFA should delay the deadline for the final squad of the World Cup.

Soccernet reports:

‘If the date remains at May 15, we could have a situation where a player is really tired or completely out of form. We would not have the ability to change it.
‘It would be very good if we could pick our squads a week before the World Cup and I don’t see any reason why we cannot do that.

Everyone waits and wants to play for the World Cup so how could anyone be out of shape in less than 2 1/2 weeks? C’mon, just tell the world that your final roster is difficult to complete given the number of players you have that have an impact to your World Cup fate. Most probably he is vying for time and sees how the other teams fare and try to adjust his roster. After all, his lack of pieces to compete strong and finish strong is unlikely to happen unless he strategically chooses a team that could neutralize the possible opponent’s strengths.

Hmm. this is not really bad after all and by no means is it unfair. So I guess what Eriksson is asking is for the benefit of everyone else other than Brazil. Who needs to tailor and change rosters with someone like them?

Profile: Ronaldinho

in Players

Ronaldinho

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, nicknamed Ronaldinho Gaucho, was born on March 21, 1980 in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Known as today’s greatest footballer; this young man is another rags to riches story that rose to international supremacy starting from a poor family and was raised in the dirt road-laced settlements of favelas.

His talent was so evident at a young age that he helped Brazil win the World under-17 Championship in Egypt. During that event he was scouted by local club Gremio and signed his first professional contract.

Ronaldinho won his first senior cap for Brazil against Latvia in 1999 where he scored 15 goals in 14 games while playing for Gremio. He then played for Copa America squad of Brazil scoring an incredible goal against Venezuela en route to a trophy win. Later that year, he scored their first hat-trick in the Confederations Cup semi-finals against Saudi Arabia.

Two years later, he left Gremio for Paris St. Germain (PSG) playing only 3 months after and with the help of FIFA due to contract restrictions.

A year after his start at PSG he was voted France’s player of the month for January after hitting 6 goals in 7 games.

During the World Cup 2002 he was best remembered for scoring the famous freekick against David Seaman in Brazil’s World Cup Quarter Finals match against England. The arc and how the ball got to the net were technically difficult but were done through Ronaldinho‘s creativity and talent.

In 2003 summer transfer market, he joined Barcelona for £21m after rejecting Manchester United.

He is a genius on the playing field that could find the net in the most spectacular, outstanding and creative shots. His dedication to the game has continuously raised his level of play throughout the years which led to Barcelona’s renewed domination of the Spanish Primera Division.

Ronaldinho was chosen by Brazil legend Pele as one of the 11 greatest living footballers through FIFA.

To sum up, below is the list of teams and awards he has played and received throughout his career:

Teams Played

1999 – 2001: Gremio de Porto Alegre, Brazil
2001 – 2003: Paris St. Germain, France Ligue 1. Signed for fee of $4.5 million
2003 – F.C. Barcelona, Spain. Signed for fee of between $30 -$35 million

Awards Received

1997: U-17 FIFA World Cup Winner. Voted MVP of Tournament
1999: Copa America Winner
2000: FIFA Confederations Cup. Golden Boot Award – six goals
2002: FIFA World Cup Winner
2004: FIFA World Player of The Year
2004-2005: Primera Division Champion with F.C. Barcelona.
2005: FIFpro World Player of The Year.
2005: European Footballer of The Year – ‘Ballon d’Or’ Winner

The latest sensation from soccer powerhouse Brazil; scores beautiful goals on a whim and dances the samba while doing. He is going to be a force to reckon with for years to come.

Expect a dominating performance from him in the upcoming World Cup 2006!

Sooo Ridiculous: Picture Restrictions

in News & Features

Soccernet reports FIFA’s decision on controlling the number of pictures to be taken during the World Cup and published in the internet, newspapers and other medium of communication. In part, the article says:

FIFA has banned publication of World Cup photos through the Internet, including on thousands of newspaper web sites, during matches and has severely restricted the number that can be published, regardless of time limits.

Among FIFA’s Internet restrictions are a limit of five photos per half of each match and two photos during each half of extra time, including any subsequent penalty shootout.

This is unacceptable. The world has given much to Football making it the number Sports in the World, and making the World Cup the greatest sporting event in the World. This is how FIFA, the governing body of the world soccer, repays us of this treachery. They operate and get paid through the hard earned money of fans and this is how you — “FIFA” repay us?

This is disheartening to hear on how they shall deprive us of the fun and excitement the game gives us. Our loyal and unconditional love is reciprocated by a few selfish decision makers who sit on our fat earnings.

Wake up “FIFA”! This is not how we should be treated.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group H

in Group, Team & Standings

This is a very interesting group that could prove many predictions wrong. Spain is the highest seeded team on this group at number 6, followed by reigning African champions Tunisia at 28th, Saudi Arabia 32nd and Ukraine at 40th but the progress shown by the last three seeded teams put them toe to toe with Spain.

Our gut instincts— Spain

Spain finesse and cohesive team play is going to encounter rough turbulence against Ukraine who is expected to come closest in beating the Spanish team.

The dominating African team is out to give Africa a respectable showing that will benefit their entire nation for 2010 World Cup hosted in their homeland.

Tunisia beating Australia 2-0 in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup has a lot of surprises coming that could eventually beat Spain or Ukraine. Together with Saudi Arabia, all these teams could have “win” columns on them.

The heart of this group relies on Spaniard Raul. His health and leadership could prove too much for other teams.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group G

in Group, Team & Standings

This group is about redemption and validation of Football status. France 5th, South Korea 29th, Switzerland 36th and Togo 56th will be up against each other to reach the second round. With France trying to avenge their disappointing 2002 showing, and South Korea trying to prove their past performance was no fluke expect a fiery battle up to the last game in this batch.

Our gut instincts— France

France is itching to get back on track after stumbling in the World Cup 2002 now that Zidane is leading the charge once again. Winners of World Cup 1998 with Zidane healthy give this squad more reason to feel confident and optimistic. Backed by Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele; this have the artillery to get past this group.

South Korea who had an impressive run by reaching the semi-finals in 2002 is out to prove that their World Cup result was more than the power of the home crowd. They have a different environment playing in Europe for this year’s World Cup which could gain them more respect once they dispatch of their rivals. This won’t be an easy battle with France on the way but their fiery approach could prove enough to win.

A win over Switzerland by either France or South Korea is going to be the clinchers in this round but don’t expect this team to think of beating both of them. This is the World Cup after all.

Togo on the other hand will provide the win column for all the other teams. Good luck on Togo.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group F

in Group, Team & Standings

This could bring in the biggest upset in the tournament in beating Brazil. Yes, this is the group that features the team ranked number 1 in the world. Croatia 20th, Australia 49th and Japan 15th are far behind than Brazil.

Our gut instincts— Brazil

Who could beat Brazil at this level of play? Unless a miraculous performance by any of their three rivals this should be a walk in the park for Brazil. With Ronaldo the greatest striker in the world competing with the South American squad is a giant mountain block toward the coveted prize. Add up today’s greatest player in Ronaldinho plus the rising superstar status of Kaka; a different team on a different level is disguised in the form of Brazil.

Croatia and Australia provide the closest game in this group having Japan as a sleeper that could win against both of them. The Asian team who made it in the last 16 during the 2002 World Cup could have a slim chance if anything remote happens to the Brazil team like having three of their players suspended? Well, that doesn’t seem likely to happen anyway.

Expect a strong finish by Brazil on the first round.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group E

in Group, Team & Standings

Similar to Group C, this group is a draw of death for Italy, Czech and the United States. For some reason each of these team have drawn the short end of the stick and is pitted against each other. They have the right to be in the second round but only one of them is possible to get there.

Our gut instincts— Czech Republic

Czech Republic has a slight advantage over Italy and is favorites to come of this group through their superb lineup and recent performances. Italy on the other hand may gain confidence along the way as they could pile up a quick win against the lowest seeded Ghana among the four of them.

We should not underestimate Ghana though, Radomir Dujkovic remains to be their fuel and is not about to get pushed that easily. Their qualifying is impressive conceding only four goals in their 12 qualifying matches. Italy has to remain focused, dispatch Ghana and build along the way in the hopes of getting a crack off Czech.

Czech on the other hand needs to do what it does best — Win. They could encounter a resilient team in Unites States who are on a higher level compared to their previous team in World Cup 2002. They now have a mixed talent of experienced and young players working in beautiful music altogether.

This is a predictable grouped with unpredictable surprises sneaking up fast.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group D

in Group, Team & Standings

This seem to be a strange mix of teams vying to kick out into the next round. We have Mexico as the most experience team with 12 previous appearances, the jinx team in Portugal who have not made it past the first round in the last 40 years, the last ranking team on the tournament — Angola, and an unpredictable but highly dangerous Iran.

Our gut instincts—Mexico

Mexico will remain steady throughout the entire group match given their exposure and experience. They are like the perennial playoff contenders that make it year after year. They may not be able to sweep this round and at the same time may lose a game against Portugal on the virtue of a collapse or lucky upset but would be enough to accomplish their second round expectations.

Portugal is the closest nightmare Mexico has; but in the end, they will be the bridesmaid that has graced the newspapers for so many years now. Luiz Felipe Scolari their Brazilian coach is the only hope Portugal has in making it to the next round.

Angola holding the lowest ranking record in the tournament will not have enough luck to reach the next round. Likewise, Iran, one of the underdogs will rely on Mehdi Mahdavikia being one of key players who played for German club football.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group C

in Group, Team & Standings

One of the toughest groups in the tournament boasting of teams Argentina ranked 4th and Netherlands 3rd in FIFA world rankings together with defensive specialist Serbia and Montenegro and Ivory Coast who relies on talent and enthusiasm will provide one of the most exciting group competitions in the World Cup.

Our gut instincts—Serbia and Montenegro

Argentina and Netherlands belong to higher rankings compared to Serbia and Montenegro and Ivory Coast; but it’s the suffocating defense of the Serbs that will matter the most in this tightly contested group.

Serbia and Montenegro have demonstrated to the world their impenetrable defense having conceding to one goal in 10 matches. Their defense coupled by the solid play of their Goalie reminds us of Germany and their Oliver Khan led finals appearance. As long as they keep their rivals check they should come away with a goal or two in every match to advance to the next round.

Argentina and Netherlands are expected though to have a solid run to emerge from this group and with Ivory Coast waiting in the wings for a possible upset.

World Cup 2006 Predictions: Group B

in Group, Team & Standings

The teams on this group are very much on the same level and each have the same chances of reaching the last 16 teams standing. England however may have a slight advantage coupled by the popularity of David Beckham. Sweden may be the silent assassin that could take any of these teams down until they realized they have moved to the next level.

Our gut instincts—Sweden

England may be everyone’s favorite but we on the other hand believe Sweden could take this through sound play, better preparation and deeper amount of focus and concentration being away from the media compared that to England. England’s recent woes on their coach could be a minor distraction that proves bigger at the level of the upcoming competition.

Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago will be very good competitors considering their incremental development from the tough teams they had to face going into the World Cup.

Unless England comes together as insisted by Beckham; this won’t be a far enough campaign for this squad.

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