Friday, May 21, 2010

The Bandwagon Fan's Guide to the World Cup


GROUP D
Arguably the most difficult Group to make it out of, it may not have the star power of Group G, but there is no doormat in Group D. Ghana will be playing on its home continent, Australia plays stingy defense, the Serbians have an underrated but talented roster, and Ze Germans always have one of the best teams in the world.

GERMANY 6th
SERBIA 16TH
AUSTRALIA 20TH
GHANA 32ND

Germany

          Long believed to be the Group D favorite, Ze Germans have run into some major problems recently, and whether or not they can recover enough to make it out of this Group, it will still be unlikely for them to go as deep as they should have. Goalkeeper Rene Adler will miss the Cup with a broken rib, and midfielder Simon Rolfes cannot make it because of a knee injury. But most devastating is the recent ankle injury to midfielder and team Captain Michael Ballack. Ballack, playing for Chelsea in the FA Cup Finals against Portsmouth was on the receiving end of a brutal tackle from Kevin-Prince Boateng. The two have a bit of a history, and Boateng was in contention for both the German and Ghanaian teams (dual citizenship). Conspiracy theorists hold that Boateng saw that he was not going to make the German roster, and sought to take out their Captain just in time for their Cup match for June 23. Either way, Ballack will not be able to play in his final World Cup because of this unfortunate injury, and with 2 midfielders and their goalkeeper out, Ze Germans are far from being a lock to advance.

      Lukas Podolski and Miroslov Klose should create plenty of scoring oppurtunities, while veteran defenders Phillipp Lahm and Arne Friedrich will anchor a solid defense. But how these recent injuries will shake up the German roster has yet to be seen, and coming so close to the Cup will make adjustments difficult. The Germans have fared well in the past, qualifying for 17 of 19 Cups, winning 3 of them, taking 2nd four times, and placing in the top 4 a total of 11 times, including a 3rd place finish when they hosted the 2006 Cup. As for the 2010 Cup, I believe they are too talented not to advance, even with roster shakeups. But they are by no means guaranteed to win the Group, and they may face tough competition in the Round of 16 as a result. Their first game of the Cup against the Aussie Socceroos (seriously, that’s what they call themselves) is an absolute must win, because the Serbians and Ghana’s Black Stars (again, not making this up) will prove difficult matchups, including an interesting new twist with the Black Stars as Ze Germans may be gunning for Kevin-Prince Boateng.
KEY PLAYERS: Lukas Podolski (F), Miroslov Klose (F), Phillip Lahm (D), Arne Friedrich

Ghana

         Ghana made their World Cup debut in 2006, but have proven themselves to be one of the better teams playing in Africa right now, becoming the first nation to qualify for the Cup after winning their first four games. The Ivory Coast is probably the strongest African team, and Ghana may run into some problems now that their star, Chelsea Midfielder Michael Essien is unlikely to be in playing condition by the time the Cup starts. Essien injured his knee in the African Nations Cup in January, and has not played a game since, however he feels he will be fit in time for competition. The Black Stars were the only African nation to advance in the 2006 Cup, beating both the Czechs and the Americans, but ultimately losing to the Brazilians in the Round of 16, a game Essien missed because of injury. The more I write about this Group, the more difficult it is for me to pick who wins, who advances, and who goes home. The Black Stars are playing on their home continent, have fared well recently and advanced last time around. But Germany and Serbia, despite injuries, are wildly talented, and Australia will not roll over. I don’t think Ghana makes it out alive, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see them advance.

KEY PLAYERS: Michael Essien (M), Stephen Appiah (M), Richard Kingston (G), John Mensah (D), Sully Muntari (F)

Serbia

          Another country formed from the break up of the Yugoslavian Republic, the Serbs have one of the most formidable rosters in Europe from top to bottom, with few true stars, but much needed depth. Serbia does not have much in the way of a rich soccer history, as they have been bounced around between confederations of other countries, and were long banned from participating in UEFA and FIFA events. There most recent attempt in 2006 did not serve them well, and at the time they also were joined with Montenegro. Today these are two separate countries, and people all over the world are very eager to learn more about Baltic history as a result. But know this about The White Eagles, they have 16 out of 23 players on their roster playing in one of the Big Four leagues in Europe (English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, and German Bundesliga). This gives them lots of talent and experience on the big stages which should translate well here in South Africa. They also beat the French in the qualifying rounds, and played consistent soccer throughout. Their best asset is defender Nemanja Vidic, believed to be one of the best defenders in the world, and one who can shut down just about any attack. With all this going for them, I believe they will advance from this round, and even have a shot at getting past the first knockout round.
KEY PLAYERS: Nemanja Vidic (D), Milan Jovanovic (M), Dejan Stankovic (M), Nikola Zigic (F)

Australia

          The Aussies, who go by the name of The Socceroos, play tough defense, but have trouble creating goals. Because of their geographic isolation, it is tough for the Socceroos (I will never get tired of saying or typing that) to get a full squad together for international matches, and they rarely play top flight talent between the Asian Confederation or their former Oceania squads. If Keeper Mark Schwarzer can pull off a clean sheet or two, they may be able to advance, but realistically, the Aussies will likely be overwhelmed in this Group.

KEY PLAYERS: Mark Schwarzer (G), The guys from Men at Work (F)

And a final note, is anyone actually reading this? It is fun to do, but I have no way of checking how many visitors are coming to the website, and I could be writing to absolutely no one. I have put in about 7,500 words and almost 30 pages on this, and have gotten some feedback here and there, but really I have no idea if this is being seen by anyone. It is difficult to balance work (where I get paid) and doing this (where I don’t) but it would be worth continuing if I knew who the audience was. Please leave a comment below, a criticism, any signs of life if you are reading this.
-Thanks

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Bandwagon Fan's Guide to the World Cup: Group C Breakdown


                               Wayne Rooney
GROUP C
            Now that each team has narrowed their rosters down to 30, we can get a better idea of how the squads are shaping up.  The final cut to 23 comes on June 1st at which point rosters are finalized.  Group C drew two telegenic rivals with England and the United States playing the first game of the Group, along with two sleepers in Slovenia and Algeria.
ENGLAND 8th
UNITED STATES 14th
SLOVENIA 23rd
ALGERIA 31st

England
            Ranked 8th in the World by FIFA, the ESPN SPI rankings actually put the English at 3rd in the World, and the 2nd best European team behind the Spanish.  The Three Lions unquestionably have some of the top talent in the world on their team, likely the best defense in the Cup and great goal creating strikers.  The questions remaining for the English includes whom they end up starting at Goal Keeper between David James and Robert Green, and how they can deal with some off the field chemistry issues.  Chief among them Defender Ashley Cole’s fidelity problems affecting his play, along with the absence of veteran defender Wayne Bridge, after rumors came out of teammate and former captain John Terry sleeping with his wife.  After these rumors came out, Bridge decided to withdraw himself from being selected to the Cup squad, and Coach Fabio Capello decided to strip Terry of his captaincy.
          A guy named Ashley had the balls to cheat on this girl

But infidelity issues aside, the team also has durability and health issues to contend with.  28 year old Midfielder Joe Cole is recovering from a serious knee injury and says he is fit for the Cup.  The larger issue may involve one of the most talented players in the world.  American star Landon Donavan recently came out stating that he felt star striker Wayne Rooney would be too worn out from a grueling club and international schedule, which led him to exacerbate injuries to his groin and ankle.  Rooney was taken out as a precaution from his last match this season, but even with his health, there is no question the English will rely heavily on the “working class hero” and occasional hothead Rooney, who will need to avoid being sent off with a red card. 
                             The 1966 World Cup Winners
David Beckham will also sit out this Cup, although he will serve the team in a coaching capacity.  The Three Lions have traditionally gone into Cups with very high hopes, and incredibly talented teams.  This year is no different, and yet with all the talent, history and passion for the game, the English have only one Cup under their belt, and one other top 4 finish.  Their lone win came in 1966 as host nation, defeating the West Germans, but few Brits can forget their 1986 loss to eventual champ Argentina in the infamous Mano de Dios Game.  At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the English were wiped out in a Quarterfinals shootout against a strong Portugal squad.  With this history of underperforming in big games, it is difficult to believe they will break the trend.  But with one of the best defenses in the Cup, two midfielders who are excellent scorers, one of the best players in the world with Striker Wayne Rooney, it would be difficult to discount them altogether.  They should easily make it out of Group C, the question is whether they can win the Group over the U.S. and then how far they can go.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them place in the top 4, or even better, but I think they will likely be knocked out in the Round of 8 once again.
KEY PLAYERS:  Wayne Rooney (F),  Steven Garard (M) Frank Lampard (M), John Terry (D), Ashley Cole (D), Peter Crouch (F)

United States of America
            The Yanks shocked the world last summer in the Confederations Cup by beating out powerhouse Spain and giving Brazil a run for their money, but friendly matches and the World Cup are two different games entirely.  The strength of the US has always been in their goalkeeping and defending, but this is beginning to shift as the Yanks move to a more aggressive attack style.  Whatever you may say about the success of the MLS so far, it has begun to develop players who do thrive abroad, which is what has to happen for the US to see any real success on the international stage.  The US is favored to advance out of this Group, but winning the Group would certainly go a long way in proving ourselves to the world.  We are by no means guaranteed to advance from this Group, but doing so, and then adding a win or 2 in the knockout rounds could go a long way in furthering the sports’ popularity at home.  Currently the US is in the process of bidding on both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and team success certainly plays a role in who gets chosen.
    
American star, currently on loan to Everton, Landon Donavon

The most notable cut for the US team has been veteran forward Charlie Davies, who was in a horrific car crash just 7 months ago.  His club, Sochaux, did not see him as being fit enough to play any significant minutes despite his protests.  Ultimately this is the call of the national team, not the club team, but the US did not feel comfortable putting him on their provisional 30 man roster given his current state of health.  With injuries to midfielder Clint Dempsey and defender Oguchi Onyewu, the US is a little worn down.  But with talent spread out across the worlds premier leagues, and stellar qualifying rounds (albeit in relatively weaker Groups) the US could make it into the Quarterfinals if they catch the right breaks.  The match that will set the tone for this Cup is our first, against England, which will take place on Saturday June 12, at 1 pm Central Time.  If we can pull a win here, or at least a draw, the US will be on good footing for the rest of the tournament.
KEY PLAYERS: Landon Donavon (M), Clint Dempsey (M), Jozy Altidore (F), Robbie Findley (F), DaMarcus Beasley (M), Tim Howard (G), Oguchi Onyewu (D)
           
           
Slovenia

The smallest country by population is trapped in a Group with two strong teams, and a country playing on its home continent.  In 2006, the Slovenians notably defeated eventual Cup Winner Italy in the qualifying rounds; however they have not had much success in their short history.  Breaking off from Yugoslavia and playing their first game in 1992, the Slovenians have yet to notch a World Cup win, although they did beat out a strong Czech Republic team to qualify out of their Group, defeating Russia and edging Poland and Northern Ireland in points.  Their first match will be against the Algerians, where they will need to take a win, and then hope to play either the US or England to a draw in order to advance.  This does not seem very likely, but the last thing the US or England would want to do is overlook a team that has talent playing in premiere leagues across the globe.  Of all the countries that formed in the rubble of the former Yugoslavian republic, this one produced the fewest amounts of people named Vlade Divac, which has to count against them for something.
                                         Vlade Agrees

KEY PLAYERS: Robert Koren (M), Milivove Novakovic (F), Samir Handanovic (G)

Algeria

            Les Fennecs have qualified for their first Cup since 1986, and did so in a thrilling match against their rivals, the Egyptians.  But in the African Nations Cup, Egypt wiped out Algeria 4-0, and in March Serbia shut out the Algerians 3-0.  Their best win recently came against the Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cup quarterfinals 3-2, but the odds of Les Fennecs making it out of this Group alive are non existent.  They may be playing on their home continent, but the largest country on the Mediterranean has relatively little in common with South Africa, and a distance of nearly 5,000 miles between their creatively named capitol city of Algiers and South Africa should wipe out any comforts of home.
KEY PLAYERS: Yazid Mansouri (F), Karim Ziani (M)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Bandwagon Fan's Guide to the World Cup Part 5

 Maradona with '86 Cup
Group B Breakdown


ARGENTINA 7TH
GREECE 12th
NIGERIA 20TH
KOREA 47TH
Argentina

By far the group favorite, Argentina has the best soccer player in the world with 22 year old Lionel Messi, and plenty of talent behind him.  Standing at just 5’7 and weighing less than 150 lbs, Messi is playing under the shadow of his coach, the legendary Diego Maradona who himself is just 5’5.  Soccer favors size for its defenders, but for forwards, however you can get the ball by the defense is all that matters.  Messi excels on long runs from midfield with ball, however Maradona has been placing him at striker, instead of his preferred natural position, on the right, and cutting in behind strikers.  Much has been made of Maradona’s lack of managerial skills, often rotating lineups too frequently which has led to some inconsistent play during their qualifying matches.  Maradona has anointed Lionel as the heir to his throne, which will certainly add to the pressure on the young Barcelona star. 
Artist Rendering of Maradona towards the end of his career

If there is a downside to Messi, it could be that he often tries to create by himself, even when in trouble, instead of passing to his teammates.  But even these plays can result in a goal, and it’s a chance the Albiceletes are willing to take.  Many of Argentina’s players, Messi included, are descendants of Italian immigrants, something that is quite apparent when you look at their last names.  This heritage has made for one of the better teams on the international stage historically, with Argentina bringing home 2 World Cups and 2 Second Place finishes, and though they will easily escape this round, and likely win the Group, it will be a difficult task to make it to this year’s finals.
KEY PLAYERS: Lionel Messi (F), Carlos Tevez (F), Gonzalo Higuain (F), Sergio Aguero (F), Javier Mascherano (M)

            Nigeria

            The Nigerians (The Super Eagles) are hoping to cash in on a sort of home field advantage for this World Cup, playing less than 3,000 miles from home on their home continent, and it will be a dead heat between them and the Koreans to make it out of Group B alive.  In my eyes, the positives for the Koreans and the Nigerians are similar.  Both have players with European Club experience, including a few in the English Premiere League, both play well against African teams and in friendlies.  The strongest African team looks like the Ivory Coast, but my gut is telling me the Nigerians will advance out of Group B.  They have a veteran squad who will first have to get through Argentina, but should have no problem beating Greece.  The third match is against the Koreans, and will likely decide who advances out of the Group after Argentina wins it.
KEY PLAYERS: Joseph Yobo (D), Ayegbeni Yakubu (F), Nwanko Kanu (F), Obafemi Martins (F)
            South Korea

            I picked the Nigerians to advance based mostly on the assumption that African teams will play above their normal level in their home World Cup, but the Koreans could just as easily advance out of this Group.  They have some star power in the form of Park Ji-Sung, Midfielder for Manchester United, and 2002 hero Awn Jung-hwan, they are by far the best Asian team, both historically and recently, and have played well in International friendlies.  Unfortunately for the Red Devils, they have drawn a difficult Group with Argentina, Nigeria, and it’s not inconceivable that the 2004 UEFA winners Greece to take a few points somewhere.  So at the risk of alienating my two Korean readers (and therefore about 50% of my total readers) I am sticking with the Nigerians to advance out of Group B
KEY PLAYERS: Park Ji-Sung (M), Awn Jung-hwan (F), Park Chu-young (F), Lee Woon-jae (D)
            Greece

            The Greeks seem destined to get knocked out from the start of the Cup, playing in a difficult Group, without much team chemistry or momentum.  The surprise winners of the 2004 UEFA Cup didn’t even manage to get a point in the 2008 Cup, the first former champion to do so.  They drew a relatively easy Qualifying group to get to the Cup, playing Isreal, Moldova, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Latvia.  To their credit, they played well in this poor division, but they lack big time scoring ability.  Their defense is capable of stopping teams when they are playing well, but all 3 teams in their Group should be able to break through.  Look for them to steal a win or at least a draw, but they don’t seem likely to get into the Round of 16.  They also may not be a country by the time the Cup ends, but that is a different story altogether. 
KEY PLAYERS: Angelos Charisteas , Theofanis Gekas , Soitirios Kyrgiakos (D), Giogos Karagounis

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Bandwagon Fan's Guide to the World Cup Part 4





EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part 4 in a continuing series on the World Cup.  For Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3, just click on the number.

Today you are going to learn a little bit about each team from Group A.  A few notes on the numbers, the ranking next to each team is according to FIFA's numbers, but as I have said before, these are not without their own problems, and may not accurately represent a team, but should give you an idea on how they've performed over the last 4 years, and how they may perform in the Cup.  Also, next to KEY PLAYERS, I put either G, D, M or F standing for Goalkeeper, Defender, Midfielder or Forward.  Although their true position is likely more specific than that (ie Center-Mid, Striker, Fullback, etc.) This should help give you an idea on where to spot them on the field.  Be sure to check back on Thursday for the Group B breakdown.
GROUP A
FRANCE 8th
MEXICO 17TH
URUGUAY 18TH
SOUTH AFRICA 88TH
France 

The French have always had a strong showing at the World Cup, winning their first and only on their home turf in 1998, and placing in the top 4 four times, including a 2nd place finish in 2006 against the Italians in a shootout.  Their soccer team has also come to be seen as a model for modern French society in that many of their players were born to immigrant parents, or even in French territories abroad.  Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira and Karim Benzema have given Algerian, Tunisian, Caribbean and other immigrant minorities a reason to cheer for Les Bleus during a time when many of France’s policies and attitudes towards minorities have been less than egalitarian.  Unfortunately, Zidane retired at the end of the 2006 World Cup, his career marred by his red card headbutt on Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final.  As for Karim Benzema, he and teammate Frank Ribery have been implicated in an underage prostitution scandal that may jeopardize their participation in this year’s tournament.
            
      The French will announce their final roster next month, and though they do have many brilliant individual talents, many have pointed to the prostitution scandal as one of the many reasons to discount this French team making it out of the Round of 16.  Their qualifying matches leading up to the Cup included a stolen victory from Ireland on account of a handball, a loss to Austria, a draw with Romania and a nail biter against the Faroe Islands (I challenge anyone to know where the Faroe Islands are without looking it up).  Star William Gallas is now questionable for the Cup with a calf injury, and former French standout and current UEFA President Michel Platini has cast doubt on France’s potential.  Look for France to make it out of Group A alive on the backs of a few stars, but I would be shocked to see them in the finals.
KEY PLAYERS: Thierry Henry (F), Nicolas Anelka (F), Patrick Evra (D), Yoann Gourcuff (M), William Gallas (D) (questionable with injury), Frank Ribery (M) and Karim Benzema (F) (both questionable on account of banging a 16 year old)

             Uruguay

            Uruguay seems poised to be the Group A spoiler, but looking back on their storied history, they don’t appear to be an underdog at all.  The small South American nation of just 3.5 million have brought home the Cup twice, in 1930 and 1950, and have also walked away with 2 4th place finishes.  Their first game of the Cup will be against France in Cape Town, and many soccer analysts are saying the French would be happy to see a draw, at best.  South America is a tough road to take when qualifying, but captain Diego Lugano claims this has helped prepare the young team make it deeper in South Africa.  Said Lugano, "Today the Uruguayan team is a young one but with experience. Most of the players play with first teams in Europe, which gives us confidence and helps us believe we have the potential to be major competitors.  The team has matured. It grew a lot during the qualifying rounds and we'll arrive in South Africa highly prepared."  
            The World Cup favors teams that can score fast and early, and with two standout strikers, La Celeste should fit that bill.  Look for Uruguay to win Group A and maybe upset a few teams in later rounds, but I wouldn’t count on them making it into the top 4.  In any case, click here to see why they should fare much better than their Rugby team did in 1972 against a strong Andes Mountains squad.  
KEY PLAYERS: Diegio Forlan (F), Diego Lugano, (D), Luis Alberto Suarez (F)

            Mexico

El Tri as the Mexican team is known has been playing rather inconsistently as of late, drawing in a match against Iceland, one of the weaker European teams.  The Mexican national team plays more matches than just about everyone in the world, which could go one of two ways.  Either they have gelled as a cohesive unit, learning each other’s games in a setting that is not just playing in national leagues; OR they could be burned out by the time the tournament starts.  After playing in both the Gold Cup and the Copa America, along with World Cup Qualifiers, the Mexicans had the unfortunate luck of drawing the opening game against host nation South Africa in Johannesburg.  Despite South Africa’s lack of big name talent, the energy provided by a home crowd to open the World Cup will likely make the difference in helping them upset favored, but fatigued Mexico.  Losing your first game can be devastating in the Cup, so El Tri will be happy to walk away with a draw here.
The case could be made for Mexico making it out of the first round, but I am leaning towards a strong Uruguay and a very talented French team to make it out of Group A alive.  The guys who play in Mexico’s domestic leagues have been released for a full month, allowing them time to play as a team in friendlies all over the world, but Group A has two big contenders, and the theoretical doormat, South Africa, will be playing them on the world stage with a stadium of about 92,000 home fans, giving them all they can.  El Chicarito (Javier Herndandez) was just signed to Man U, and many have high hopes for the young star, and Borgetti is an aging veteran who leads Mexico all time in goals scored.  But they will not be enough to get Mexico out of Round 1.
KEY PLAYERS: Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) (F), Jared Francisco Echavarria Borgetti (F)
            
South Africa

Bafana Bafana (the boys, the boys) are hoping to cash in on the trend of host nations playing above their par, but with a tough Group like this, it will be difficult for them to make it out.  Scoring early is key to winning Cup matches, and the South Africans just don’t have the ability to create goals consistently.  However they could benefit from the visiting team’s nervous energy for either a dumb penalty or a defensive mistake that could help Bafana Bafana.  After recently posting a 2-0 win over Jamaica, the South Africans are optimistic about their chances, but they have also recently had a draw with North Korea 0-0.  Unless they can get a win in their first match with Mexico, it will be a tough road out of Group A, but I wouldn’t expect a Butler like underdog at home story out of them
KEY PLAYERS: Matt Damon (D), Morgan Freeman (M)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Bandwagon Fan's Guide to the World Cup Part 3



For Parts 1 and 2 click here and here
In any year, there will be a few notable countries that did not qualify for the World Cup, and this year is no exception. Here is a look at some of the teams that almost made it, and some that didn’t come close to making it, but you may have been to on a trip abroad. Here is a serious look at some of those teams, and some complete nonsense about some other ones.
IRELAND- Although the Irish did seem poised to make the Cup with a win or tie against France, a team that had already qualified. In the final minutes of the qualifying match, French star Thierry Henry used his hands twice to assist himself on a penalty kick pass from a teammate before kicking in the winning goal. Ireland immediately protested, but unfortunately the ref had not seen the foul, and the goal counted. Although this would have been a tough way to lose any game, the fact that it robbed Ireland of a World Cup appearance has to make the sting that much worse. For his part, Henry has said the foul was unintentional, and wishes it hadn’t happened, would gladly play another match against Ireland were it allowable, but ultimately blames the ref for not catching the foul. You can see the goal here
RUSSIA Aside from #10 ranked Croatia, the #12 Russians are certainly one of the best teams not to make the field this year. They came from the UEFA region and had to play Germany, Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia in order to qualify, games that they came up short in, despite their talented squad.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

by Bulldog56

"You know you have a real long day ahead of you when you wake up from your alarm, look over at your night stand and see that the ice from your final drink of the evening hasn't even melted yet......" -Lawrence Larkin

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Name Of The Movie Is Kick-Ass And It Actually Does, by: Quardy


Once in a while, movie-goers get a pleasant surprise from a movie they didn't know much about and had no intention of seeing.  This year, that movie for me will be Kick-Ass.  As I read that last sentence to myself i realize how it sounds, but I am sticking with it.  I'm also sticking by this statement:  It's Nicolas Cage's best role since Bangkok Dangerous.  Ok, bad joke, i meant to say its his best role since The Wicker Man.  Ok fine i'll stop, but seriously, it's been a good while.  He truly does great work inKick-Ass and the film actually allows Cage to make good comedic use of his acting talent (or lack there-of), as you will find out for yourself upon viewing.  His performance was a good surprise in a movie full of surprises.  His hair is still the same bad hair you're used to seeing in every other movie.

The Bandwagon Fan’s Guide to the 2010 World Cup


PART 2- Editor's Note:  This is the second in a series of articles by DJ Tanner on the World Cup taking place this summer in South Africa.  For Part 1, see here.

 Now that you have the format of the World Cup down, its time to see where these 32 teams came from.  It's important to note that only a limited amount of teams from each Geographic Region can qualify for the Cup, and here is a breakdown of each region and the teams that made it:
UEFA (13 teams)  Europe- The toughest road to the Cup also has the most slots in the tournament.  The English Premiere League is considered the gold standard of professional soccer leagues, with Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga trailing close behind.  The best talent in the world can be found in these leagues, and although they pull in players from all continents, European countries tend to produce their own talent, talent that has landed them 9 out of 18 World Cups.  Gli Azzuri (the plural of blue in Italian, and the nickname for their national team) came home with Italy’s 4th Cup in Germany at the last World Cup in 2006.  Although the Italians will field a competitive team again this year, look for Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and even Germany to make strong showings this year out of UEFA. 
Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain Switzerland.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Get To Know This Man by: Dr. Punch


The majority of guys these days play fantasy football. Of the people that play, you can break them down into a few categories. 
1. Buy the magazine on the way to the one draft you are in with your high school friends. 2. Get a magazine or two a month before the draft, read a bit and pay attention to football news on tv until the draft of the one league you are in. 3. Get in 3-4 leagues and let them dictate your mood for five months or so. 4. Get in as many leagues as possible and completely obsess over it year round, including in the offseason. I find myself in the last category, which is why I would like to talk about some fantasy draft stocks that are on the rise and on the decline. If you just said "fantasy football already, Its only April!" in a totally whiney voice, stop your reading and go play sudoku. You are no friend to Dickie Punch!