11 June 2006

WC: Group C Overview

Falling... behind... must... update... overview! Again this happens after the first games, but I don't suspect that it has a major effect on what I'd write anyway.

This is one of several candidates for the "Group of Death". It definitely has the biggest set of unknowns, as Holland and Argentina in particular have the potential to either exhilirate or disappoint. But all four teams were disappointing in 2002, so there are questions around them too. But there will probably be two strong teams to emerge from this group.

Argentina are a perennial favorite in the World Cup, despite a lackluster performance in 2002. This year's team has an excellent mix of talent and could be a true contender for the title.

Success: Winning the championship.
Disappointment: Failing to reach the semifinals.
Previous Best: WC Champions in 1978 and 1986
2002: Finished 3rd in Group F, winning over Nigeria, losing to England, and drawing with Sweden.

Ivory Coast (aka Cote d'Ivoire)
One of the newcomers to the Finals, Ivory Coast are a favorite of mine, due in large part to the Arsenal pair of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue. As newcomers, the hopes should probably be low, but a high number of established stars (starting with Chelsea frontman Didier Drogba) makes this team an easy dark horse to pick.

Success: Reaching the knockout stage.
Disappointment: Finishing last in the group.
Previous Best: First time in WC Finals.
2002: Failed to qualify, finishing second in African Group 4 qualification behind Tunisia.

Netherlands (aka Holland)
Despite failing to qualify in 2002, Holland are a team that have the potential to go deep into the tournament. If they can establish a consistent scoring threat behind Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, they can challenge anyone. Perhaps the most successful team that's never won a World Cup.

Success: Reaching the finals.
Disappointment: Failing to reach the quarterfinals.
Previous Best: Second place in 1974 and 1978.
2002: Finished third in UEFA Group 2 qualification, behind Portugal and Ireland.

Serbia and Montenegro
The last remnant of the Yugoslavian teams, and in fact Serbia and Montenegro are officially separate countries as of 5 June 2006. So these are two separate countries, competing as one.

Success: Reaching the knockout stage.
Disappointment: Finishing last in the group.
Previous Best: Semi-finals in 1930 (as Yugoslavia)
2002: Finished third (as Yugoslavia) in UEFA Group 1 qualification, behind Russia and Slovenia.

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