Sunday, June 11, 2006

Your Guide to... Group C (Part II) and Group D

Continuing our look at Group C, here are the remaining two teams, the Netherlands and Serbia & Montenegro, plus all four teams in Group D.

Group C (contd...)

Serbia & Montenegro

  • Serbia & Montenegro used to play a sweeper system but now favour a flat back four. It conceded only one goal in 10 qualifying games
  • The former Yugoslavians have very few star names, but can boast Savo Milosevic and Mateja Kezman among their ranks
  • The team's strong points are tactical discipline, solid defending and a great team spirit
  • While not a team that makes the defence the heart of their play, they do now how to get a lead and hold onto it


  • Coach Marco Van Basten has been trying out lots of lesser known players in the team recently, trying to rely less on the star names that play at club level around Europe
  • Out of those star names that do get a game, they'll be hoping that Van Nistelrooy, Robben and Cocu remain fit
  • The Netherlands did a fine job of defending during the qualifiers - in 12 matches, they kept 10 clean sheets against teams like the Czech Republic and Romania
  • The Dutch play an attacking game with plenty of men storming forward, usually in a 4-3-3 formation.

Group D


  • Mexico's team is almost entirely full of home-based players - only four play their club football abroad
  • Their schedule of friendly matches has been somewhat hectic. In 2005, they played 26 times...
  • This has enabled coach Ricardo Lavolpe to bed in many young players quickly, reducing the average age dramatically
  • Mexico are very adept at making tactical changes, often switching things around in the middle of a game
  • They play a solid passing game but struggle against physical opposition


  • They have two main stars on whom many people's attention will be diverted: Ali Karimi, a midfield who likes to run with the ball, and Ali Daei, veteran forward and captain of the side
  • Iran's midfield contains many players who see domestic action in Germany's Bundesliga
  • Iran like to play thrusting, attractive, fluid football, often centered around playing the ball down the wings


  • In qualifying, Angola didn't concede that many goals but then again didn't score that many either...
  • After decades of civil war, the team is now reliant on players of Angolan origin from all over Europe whose families fled when independence came
  • Angola's main strength lies with their attackers, however their form in recent matches has been disappointing
  • Their defence and midfield are both problem areas and goalkeeper Joao Ricardo wasn't even affiliated to a club last season


  • Portugal haven't got past the group stage of the World Cup since 1966 and this is only their fourth Finals campaign ever
  • Some of their players have played very little during the domestic season, including Costinha, Maniche, Paulo Ferreira and Nuno Valente
  • The team will rely on the bulk of the Euro 2004 squad that finished runners-up on home soil
  • Portugal have a wealth of talent to call upon: Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo on the wings, Pauleta up front and Deco creating goalscoring opportunities from midfield

Next up: Group E and Group F (Part I)...

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