June 19, 2006

Thirty-two Games In

Each team in the World Cup has now played two games and the groups and the strongest teams are beginning to shape up. This stretch of games started with Group E, with Ghana shocking the Czech Republic and, in the ugliest game thus far, Italy and the US conspiring to keep things knotted up in the group. The US are on the bottom, but still in the running. I’m not sure how I’ll pick the next game from this group to watch (as they’re on at the same time) next week. Brazil continued its casual defense of its title, quenching Australia’s fire for the time being. Group G’s pretty clotted up, too. France is in danger of elimination and Switzerland did what they needed to do today by beating Togo. And in Group H, Ukraine took out the beating they took at the hands of Spain on hapless Saudi Arabia, while Tunisia made Spain work for their win by holding a 1 – 0 lead for an hour of game time before succumbing to a late flurry of finishing.

Starting tomorrow, the schedule goes to four games a day (more than I can handle), with two being played at a time (so I don’t have to try to handle it). I choose Ecuador v Germany (6 pts. each) and England v Sweden (6 and 4, respectively) tomorrow. Wednesday’s preferred games are Portugal v Mexico (6 and 4 pts., respectively) and the big clash: Netherlands v Argentina (6 pts. each). Thursday: Italy v Czech Republic (they have the points in the group – 4 and 3 – and if I want to see the US, I bet I can find a tape, later, after they’ve been eliminated) and Brazil v Japan (if only to see if Brazil breaks out this time). Friday might be tough, as the rest of life is piling up and will overflow next weekend, but my preferred games are Spain v Saudi Arabia in Group H (because it’s Spain, though Ukraine is enticing) and, well, I don’t know what to do with that sad group G. I guess it will have to be Switzerland and Korea, if only for the points.

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