On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Biggest Sporting Event In The World

The biggest sporting event of the week took place this afternoon, attracting an estimated worldwide television audience of 350 million.

It didn't involve a hoop, or a touchdown. It certainly had nothing to do with a puck.

There wasn't even a game, and the players were dressed in street clothes, and long retired.

Done guessing?

It was the 2006 World Cup finals draw. The draw to determine the make-up of the eight four team groups for next June's event took place in Germany, the host nation. The World Cup final typically attracts a worldwide television audience of 1 billion, so a lot of fans were eagerly awaiting the results which would determine the first three opponents for each team in the group phase of the tournament.

The draw was shown live on ESPN2 (and Univision for the fervent Spanish following in the States), and the U.S. will be matched against Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana.

Making it out of the group phase for a second consecutive World Cup would go a long way to legitimizing U.S. soccer in the world's eyes. Although the team is ranked in the FIFA top ten (based on very questionable ranking methods IMO), few believe the team to be better than many of the teams ranked lower. Still, the Czech Republic is currently ranked 2nd and Italy 12th, so the competition will be tough.

For my money, the teams to beat will be Brazil, Germany, England and the Netherlands, with an advantage to the European teams. Historically it has been very hard for South American teams to win the World Cup when it has been played in Europe. In fact only Brazil have ever done so, in 1958 when the tournament was played in Sweden (and they had to beat the host team in the finals). The host nation has played in the final game in 8 of the past 17 World Cups, with Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), England (1966), Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and France (1998) winning at home.

So now the draw has been made, the long wait for the start of the tournament begins. Set your VCR or TiVo for the opening match on June 9 between Germany and Costa Rica!

1 Comment(s):

Comment by: Blogger Xanthippas

It's going to be a hard road out of the group and into the 2nd round for the United States, but I honestly think that they have their best chance against Italy (see Italy getting their asses handed to them by S.Korea) and an even chance against the Czech Republic. The 2nd round is do-able, but I think it's both good and bad that if the US takes down either Italy or the Czech Republic it won't be considered an upset the likes of which the victory over Portugal was in 2002.

12/11/2005 9:29 PM PT  

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