11 June 2006

WC: Group D Overview

Gropu D is an interesting mix. Anyone could come out of the group, but there's a good chance we will see a dominating performance from one team or another. Mexico and Portugal have to be considered the favorites, but either Iran or Angola could do some damage.

Angola are another team new to the World Cup finals. They are perhaps the least heralded African team, and may be happy just to be in Germany.

Success: Reaching the knockout stage.
Disappointment: Losing all three games.
Previous Best: First time in finals.
2002: Failed to qualify, finishing second in African Group 1 qualification behind Cameroon.

Iran is a team that's had rare appearances in the World Cup. Their lone victory over the US in 1998 was more of a moral victory than anything. Much like Angola, they face an uphill battle to make an impact in the tournament, particularly since the two minnows don't face each other until the last group match, when they may already be eliminated.

Success: Reaching the knockout stage.
Disappointment: Finishing last in the group.
Previous Best: 1998, finished 3rd in Group F with a 1-0-2 record.
2002: Failed to qualify, losing a playoff with Ireland 2-1 agg. in the UEFA-AFC playoff.

Mexico are one of the better teams to never win the World Cup. Their long domination of CONCACAF has recently been challenged by the US, but they retain a dangerous form and should be expected to reach the knockout stage in a fairly weak group.

Success: Reaching the semifinals.
Disappointment: Failing to reach the quarterfinals.
Previous Best: Quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986.
2002: Reached the knockout stage, losing 2-0 to the US.

Portugal are a team knocking at the door of Europe's elite, following their trip to the finals of Euro 2004. The team boasts some quality talent, a mix of veterans and fresh faces, and a reasonable group. They should expect success and a trip deep into the tournament.

Success: Reaching the semi-finals.
Disappointment: Missing the quarterfinals.
Previous Best: 3rd place in 1966.
2002: 3rd in Group D, winning 4-0 over Poland, and losing 2-3 to the US and 0-1 to South Korea.

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