Saturday, June 10, 2006

Your Guide to... Group B and Group C (Part I)

Today's games feature all four teams in Group B and two from Group C, so here's what to expect from them...

Group A

  • With their first-choice XI on the field, England have strength in depth in all areas
  • Terry and Ferdinand make an experienced central defensive partnership
  • Gerrard and Lampard are star players in midfield, although there's some doubt about how to play both in the same team to maximum effect
  • Gerrard's likely to be tired having played 60+ matches this season, but others will have benefited from early exits from European competition and other recent rest periods
  • In attack, Owen and Crouch have started to click, although fans won't be fully confident until a recovering Rooney returns
  • Their defence and goalkeeper lack some height, and this could be exploited by the other teams in the group
  • Paraguay now boast a blend of veterans who have played in many recent major competitions along with a few new rising stars
  • Paraguay are a resilient team who can't be written off until the final whistle
  • They are a threat from set-pieces, with striker Santa Cruz of Bayern Munich being their most dangerous star player
  • As ever, their defence is the strongest part of the team, although they've struggled to find consistency with their choice of back four
  • Sweden are excellent at suffocating an opposing team's attack, conceding only 11 goals in their last 36 qualifying games
  • In attack, they boast Ibrahimovic of Juventus and an ageing Henrik Larsson, fed by the wing play of Freddie Ljungberg
Trinidad & Tobago
  • The Caribbean islanders tend to suffer from bouts of poor concentration, slowness in transforming defence into attack and losing their shape under pressure
  • Trinidad's few well-known players are of a generally high standard, e.g. Dwight Yorke and Coventry's Stern John
  • A number of players have been tried out on the left wing, although Dundee United's Colin Samuel may play as a natural left-footer
  • Many of T&T's players can be found playing their club football in Scotland, Wales and the lower leagues of England, including Jason Scotland of St. Johnstone, strangely...
Group B

  • Suffered a first round exit in 2002, so the expectations are lower this time around, but that could work in their favour as the pressure will be off...
  • Argentina have suffered from a number of injuries to well-known players including Ayala, Heinze, Aimar and the returning star striker Lionel Messi
  • Argentina have reverted to their old style of play where the ball is allowed to run more and possession is the key to building attacks
  • Keeper Abbondanzieri is good at facing penalties and setting up counter-attacks but can lack confidence at set-pieces
  • Their defence isn't much more inspiring, largely due to the number of injuries they've had to deal with of late
  • Look out for their two star players - midfield engine Riquelme and the aforementioned Messi of Barcelona.
Ivory Coast
  • They find themselves in the 'Group of Death' which isn't a good start for an African nation making it's debut at the World Cup...
  • Ivory Coast will be heavily relying on the attacking skills of Chelsea's Didier Drogba around whom the team is based
  • Elsewhere, they can boast Arsenal's Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue in defence and a midfield made up of several players from France and Holland
  • Coach Henri Michel hasn't yet cracked a way to make his side play sparkling football, so in the meantime they've resorted to lumping the ball directly to the forwards as quickly as they can
  • Though the Ivory Coast's defensive record is good, their goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie often has his nervous moments.
Part II of Group B, along with a look at Group C, comes tomorrow...

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