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World Cup 2006 - Predictions

The final games of the World Cup Qualifers were played today, deciding the final five teams that will be in Germany next summer.

The full list, plus my thoughts on possible winners/surprises is under the cut as I know there are a number of you fine folk that don't appreciate the fine sport like some of the rest of us do :p




THE TEAMS
European
Germany (hosts)
Croatia
England
France
Holland
Italy
Poland
Portugal
Serbia & Montenegro
Sweden
Ukraine
Switzerland
Spain
Czech Republic

South America
Argentina
Brazil
Ecuador
Paraguay

Asia
Japan
Iran
Saudi Arabia
South Korea

CONCACAF (North & Central America & The Caribbean)
Costa Rica
Mexico
USA
Trinidad & Tobago

Africa
Angola
Ghana
Ivory Coast
Togo
Tunisia

Oceania
Australia

It's a really good mix of teams that have qualified this year. I very pleased Australia made it as I personally think one team from the Oceania group should automatically qualify for the tournament every year (currently the winner of the Oceania group has to play a knock-out game against the fifth placed team from South America)..

The African teams are a surprise as we don't have Nigeria, Cameroon or South Africa which you'd kind of expect to see included. Sadly though I don't think any of the African qualifiers will make it past the group stage in Germany. Out of those attending I'd be tempted to say Ivory Coast 'might' do, but I doubt it.

Australia may have a good chance of getting through to the second round depending on who they draw in the group phase. I'd like to see Australia do well as I feel this would strengthen the claim for an automatic Oceanian team. Still second round is all I feel Australia could manage on this outting.

From the Asian teams you could see good performances from Japan and South Korea again. Both teams played extremely well in the 2002 Cup which they jointly hosted and I would not be surprised to see them both qualify for the second round. Beyond that, completely depends on whom they draw but they have the possibility of going into the Quarter Finals. I'd be very surprised in South Korea could pull off another Semi-Final spot though.

From CONCACAF USA and Mexico should be almost guranateed entry into the second round and probably both for the Quarter Finals too. USA made the Quarters in 2002 only to be beaten by Germany (who were extremely lucky). As much as I hate to say it but the USA could feasibly make it into the Semi's but I don't think 2006 will be the year they make this next step. Mexico on the otehr hand are one of the teams to watch closely. They have been playing extremely well and have a lot of talent. I don't know what there odds are but I'd certainly be tempted to put a tenner on them reaching the Final itself in 2006. Otherwise expect to see them falter at the Quarter or Semi-Final stage. In any case Mexico will be one of the big threats of the tournament and I hope England don't face them until at least the Final!

From the South American qualifers Paraguay and Ecuador will fall at the first hurdle and Argentina and Brazil will progress into the Second Round and probably further. I don't think Argentina currently have what they need to get further than a Quarter Final slot and Brazil are always going to be one of the competitions favourites, not least because they are current holders. Will they make it a double? I don't think so, but I do think they'll feature in the Semi's and possibly the Final itself.

Which brings us lastly to the European teams. There are certainly more stronger European teams in the pot than any from any other continent but whether or not they can reclaim the Cup from South America is another matter. I'll leave my Cup contenders round-up for a moment though and concentrate on the teams themselves. Pretty much all of the European teams have very good chances of making it out of the Group Stage into the Second round. To be perfectly honest I think the teams that *may* struggle in the Group phase are Croatia, Spain, Italy, France and possibly hosts Germany depending on the final Group Drawings - but I think we'll see them through to Round 2. The teams that I'd most likely suspect to still see by the Quarter Finals stage would be from Holland, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and hopefully England. I really (honestly and neutrally) don't think Germany are a very good team at present. Having seen several of their matches recently, and all through the last World and European Cups they seemed to stumble through. Now whilst this is great if you still managed to get the winner I don't think their luck will last - not even as the host nation. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Germany fall as an early 'surprise' victim. I hope for their sake they make it to at least the Quarter Finals but certainly wouldn't put money on it. Spain, Italy and France may also be a few surprise early exits as none of them have really impressed me of late. Out of the three Italy and France could make the Quarters, possibly even the Semis but I'd say they would be a wild card ticket for me. Holland and the Czech Republic have real potential to be in the last four. Both are very good teams (even if Czech Republic had to get to Germany via the Play-offs) and both deserve to win a major competition. Portugal will fall in Round 2 or the Quarter Finals as will Switzerland, although saying that Switzerland are another 'wild-card' team to watch. They had a very, very good Under 21's team a few years ago several of which are now in the core team so they could surprise us. Which brings me to England. They can be an excellent team at times and a complete disaster at other points. I really wouldn't want to make any prediction concerning them, but I'll try. I think we'll certainly see England in the Quarter Finals, further than that it'll depend on who we draw. Do I think the team has the potential to win the World Cup? Yes. Do I think they will? No.

So, who might win the 2006 World Cup? My personal shorlist would be the following:
Brazil
Mexico
Holland
Czech Republic

I certainly think one of the above will be going home clutching the Trophy. Who'll be in the Final against them, and in the Semi-Finals? We'll see, but I certainly think it'll be an interesting tournament.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
anyeone
Nov. 17th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC)
Mike and I were planning on trying to go to the World Cup this year but now he's saying he won't have the time off work :(

*pouts*

He went in France back in 1998 right when we first started dating (without me, I might add...)
meganintheuk
Nov. 17th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
So many of my friends got far too excited about Australia qualifying. Hey it make the local radio news here in Reading!

danny_e11
Nov. 17th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC)
I too am chuffed that the Aussies qualified and think Oceania deserves an automatic spot. Unfortunately though, I hear that from the next world cup they have decided to migrate to the Asian federation cos they think they'd have better chances there (with the 4 guaranteed spots) and therefore I think the rest of Oceania will be doomed to unwinnable playoffs with teams from other federations.

I'm also happy to see new countries appearing on the world stage (thinking of the 4 debutante African countries and Trinidad & Tobago), as the big child in me still likes to see new flags, new uniforms, new national anthems played ;-)

As for the rest - I can't see Mexico doing that well (might well be wrong of course) and I think Germany will *have* to get to at least the semis, one way or another, by virtue of being the host country (host countries all have been helped consistently over the last 40 years at least, some more blatantly than others - S Korea in the last world cup and Spain in 82 come to mind - but they all got favours of some sort), other than that I substantially agree with you.

England? Surprising as it may seem they are and have been for many years the team I support in these tournaments, and again I have to agree on your considerations: potential to win it - yes, actual victory - doubtful. But we can always hope ;-)
mrmmarc
Nov. 18th, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC)
Fully agreed with your assessment.
I have a 'classic' final in mind- Holland v Brazil.
Winner?
Brazil. Of course it all comes down to the day, but on current form- Brazil, more Brazil and even more Brazil.
Germany will have to go ALl out to survive to second stage (they get a tough group they are toast!), Spain will bottle it as ALWAYS, Croatia have the potential to surprise us...
And England?
If they play as well as they potentially can- Semi's easy.
If they 'Do an England'? Second round exit looms.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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