10 June 2006

WC: Group B Overview

Group B will get more attention than any other -- due to the presence of England, which comes with a media frenzy due to the batshit insane British press.

England
England of course are never good enough for their country, but this year they may have a chance. They've looked very good in the warmup friendlies. No team is under more pressure, and that may limit their chances to advance deep into the knockout stages.

Success: Realistically? Making the semi-finals. But the England fans will complain if they don't win it all.
Disappointment: Failing to reach the quarterfinals.
Previous best: Champions in 1966.
2002: Lost in the quarterfinals, 2-1 to eventual champs Brazil.

Paraguay
Paraguay are slowly working to establish themselves among the quality of South America, and have now qualified for three WC finals running. They're being challenged by Ecuador as the #3 team in the region but Paraguay have the better history. Their performance may go a long way to determining how competitive Group B is.

Success: Reaching the quarterfinals to better their last two runs.
Disappointment: Missing the knockout stage.
Previous best: Reached knockout stage in 1998 and 2002.
2002: Lost 1-0 to Germany in the round of 16.

Sweden
Sweden are a team with a lot of quality, and they have the capability to make a rn deep into the tournament. But many of their top stars are aging, and this may be the last hurrah before a changing of the guard. It's definitely the last World Cup for Henrik Larsson, while Freddie Ljungberg and Olof Mellberg are probably on the tail of their careers.

Success: Reaching the quarterfinals.
Disappointment: Missing the knockout stage.
Previous best: Second place in 1958.
2002: Lost in the round of 16, 2-1 to Senegal in extra time.

Trinidad and Tobago
This is T&T's first trip to the World Cup, and they got there by a thin margin. They were the fourth-place team in CONCACAF, and had to beat Bahrain in a playoff. (Now that's a culture clash!) They are a brittle team and have given up plenty of goals, but they can score too.

Success: Winning a game.
Disappointment: Failing to take any points.
Previous best: First time in the WC finals.
2002: Finished 6th in CONCACAF, bottom in the regional finals.

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