World Cup Draws
World Cup finals draw in full
Trinidad & Tobago
Serbia & Montenegro
Draw Done, World Cup Stage Is Set for the Elite
The 32 teams were parceled into eight groups of four. The two top teams in each group will advance to the round of 16. The final will be played in Berlin on July 9.
"There is no really weak and no really strong group," said Franz Beckenbauer, the head of Germany's World Cup organizing committee and a former star player who led the country to a World Cup title in 1974. "It's rather well balanced."
Inevitably, though, some countries felt more relief than others. Germany's coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, said his team could have fared worse than being placed in a group with Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador.
The United States, which reached the quarterfinals in 2002, faces daunting competition in the first round. In their opener, the Americans face the Czech Republic, which nearly won the European championship in 2004. They will then play Italy, a perennial power, and Ghana, a first-time qualifier and one of five African teams in the tournament.
If the United States finishes second in its group and Brazil is first in its group, they will meet in the round of 16.
"I'm not disappointed," said Bruce Arena, the United States' coach. "I expected us to be drawn into a difficult group."
Arena said he was grateful that the United States, which is ranked eighth in the world, was not placed in a group with Brazil, Argentina or Germany. And he said he relished the prospect of playing an African team. "We know it will be difficult," he said.
Among other potentially treacherous groups is one that comprises Argentina, the Netherlands, Ivory Coast, and Serbia and Montenegro. Also in the first round, three nations will play against their former colonial powers: Trinidad and Tobago against England, Angola against Portugal and Togo against France.
The US sent a college team to Italy 1990. Sixteen years later, the US is eighth ranked in the world and faces a real challenge to improve upon their 2002 performance, beating Portugal and losing to Germany in the Quarterfinals. The improvement in US football has been amazing, and it hasn't been all immigrants and suburban kids either. Sports Illustrated did an all black US international side earlier in the year, and stars like Tim Howard, Cobi Jones, DaMarcus Beasley and Freddy Adu will draw a lot of notice because of their play.
They aren't likely to be a top ranked team, but they are certainly likely to avoid another 1998, where the US team lost badly and went home in disgrace.
England face another Sweden test
England have been drawn against Paraguay, Sweden and Trinidad & Tobago in the 2006 World Cup finals group stage next summer.
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson faces another meeting with fellow countrymen Sweden, who England have not beaten in 37 years, after the draw in Leipzig.
England's opening game will be against Paraguay in Frankfurt on 10 June.
There is a mouth-watering confrontation between two of the favourites, Holland and Argentina, in Group C.
England follow the game with Paraguay with a game against Trinidad and Tobago in Nuremberg on 15 June and then the final group game against Sweden five days later in Cologne.
Eriksson's side were the first to be drawn out after hosts Germany and holders Brazil in the draw.
Eriksson's antics have been tolerated for a long time, Nancy, Ulrike and the woman from the FA, but this time, he and his boy Becks, better come up to snuff or he'll be gone and Beckham won't be captain.
The Brits want a 40 year repeat of 1966, so expect a lot of bad WWII analogies in the British papers next year. Anything short of that, and heads will roll. Into the Thames.
The question dogging them is can Beckham keep his head in a crucial match and can the Brits live up to their talent. Besides Brazil, England has the most talented team on the pitch, man for man, but not the best team as a team. Euro 2004 was the latest point to emphasize this.
We like the French and Brazilians ourselves, besides the US. Can't stand the English fans and their boorish behavior.
But a win in Germany would likely bring back the Cup to the UK, if the English fans don't refight WWII in the process.
posted by Steve @ 12:58:00 AM