Currently, I am observing Netherlands vs. Serbia and Montenegro (by the way, don't look for Serbia AND Montenegro in the next world cup as the two countries have split, which begs the question: Who gets Dejan Stankovic?) and I can say the Netherlands are the real deal. Dutch attacker Arjen Robben has scored a goal in the 18th minute with a convincing strike assisted by Robin van Persie (whose talents are being wasted at Arsenal). This Holland team should go far. Look for it.
England needs to play more inspired football than it did against Paraguay on Saturday. The only goal the English managed to score was a Paraguay own-goal. I was told Beckham was going to light it up in Germany this year?
Sweden was stunned on Saturday with a 0-0 draw vs. little Trinidad and Tobago and their goalkeeper, Chaka Hislop. Hislop was in the zone as he saved numerous shots from the Swedish players. I'm not looking for much out of the Swedes , unless they can improve their performances in their next group match. Trinidad is looking good, especially if Hislop continues his form. They could even squeak out 6 points if they can beat Paraguay, who are not up to the task of World Cup football.
The surprise of the year has to be Ecuador's convincing beating of Poland. Poland did make it interesting late in the second half with two shots that went off the goal post. Still, Ecuador got the win, and a whole lot of respect from the world footballing community.
Argentina looks good as they beat a strong Ivory Coast squad 2-1. Didier Drogba did his part for Costa de Marfil and scored late in the game to make it interesting. However, you just can't stop Argentina and their man Juan Riquelme right now. Look for Argentina to make a serious run at the Cup.
Next game is Mexico vs. Iran. I'm calling a 3-1 Mexican victory right now. Iran has some stellar players, but I don't think it will be enough for the skills and the athletic ability of the top Mexican squad.
The U.S. plays Czech Republis tomorrow. Talk about trial by fire, this will probably be the best match of the group stage. The athletic ability of the U.S. players vs. the skills of the Czechs. The U.S. looking for Man City-man Claudio Reyna to boss the midfield and for Landon Donovan to provide the goal scoring punch. The Czechs will be looking for an all around good performance from Juventus-man Pavel Nedved. So far, the World Cup has been exciting, and is hopefully encouraging a budding soccer fan base in the U.S.A.
-Christopher J. Brigham
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