Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Groups A and B

Two rounds of matches have been completed and who will qualify, and what match ups are likely are beginning to become more apparent. Although there are still many unanswered questions!

June 20th sees 2 match ups for the round of 16 decided.

Group A: A draw or win will see Ecuador top the group, Germany need a win to do so. Costa Rica and Poland are already eliminated and play a dead rubber.

Group B: England have qualified. A win or draw will see them top the group. A Sweden win will have them top the group, a draw will see them finish runner up. Should Sweden lose Trinidad & Tobago could sneak through on goal difference with a win over Paraguay although they are currently a margin of 3 worse off in terms of goal difference. I see very little chance for T&T progression but who knows!

The questions: Will Germany and Ecuador be bothered about finishing top or will they choose to field weakened sides to rest knocks etc? Were Ecuador to finish first would England contemplate losing in order to avoid Germany? But would a loss be worse in terms of a knock in confidence? Surely if Ecuador were to finish first this would demonstrate they are a team to be feared, so why would a team deliberately try to set themselves up for a game with them?

I think all will be hoping for wins but will rest key players if they are suffering from a knock or have a suspension looming over their head. If I was Sven for example I would play neither Gerrard or Lampard as they both sit on a yellow card, a further one would see them sitting out in the round of 16. Should they avoid this however remember all yellow cards are wiped once the group stage is over and would start with a clean slate in the knockout stages. Resting both would be a bit of a gamble I guess, but you could play Cole on the left, Lennon on the right, and Carrick and Beckham in the centre of the park.

I expect both England and Germany to top their groups in the end but we shall see.

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