Wednesday, June 07, 2006

For the Unitiated...

At the request of my good friend and chief antagonist, Vic Sears, I have decided to backtrack a little bit and give a little overview of the world cup for those who new to this whole kicking a ball with your foot thing. So here goes.....

The world cup occurs once every four years. Over the course of roughly two years teams from all over the world in different regions compete against each other for qualification. The U.S. plays mostly small Caribbean islands and their big rivals Mexico (that explains why they both will always qualify). The region that gets the short end of the stick is Africa. To make it as an African nation you must win your qualifying group. Unlike the U.S. and European region where the top two from the qualifying groups making the Cup.

After qualifying is over, 32 teams are placed in eight groups of four and the World Cup begins. In the group stages each team plays three games. The top two teams from each group advances to the knockout stages and then it's single elimination for the rest of the way.

The World Cup begins Friday with Group A. Germany plays Costa Rica at noon eastern time on ESPN2.

What to Watch for: German playmaker Michael Ballack has missed training this week due to injury. It should be interesting to see if he has recovered fully to inspire the team the victory. Also should be nice to see if Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski can live up to their immense potential. It all starts here.


The Germany v. Costa Rica match will be followed by Poland and Ecuador at 3 p.m. ET.

What to Watch for: Can Poland score 5? Seriously, this should be a cakewalk for the Poles. No contest. Also look to see if Poland's Nigerian born striker, Emmanuel Olisadebe, will get some playing time. He'll be easy to spot: the black guy playing with all the white guys.

Saturday's games will be posted after the completion of Friday's games. Though for those who can't wait you can find the full world cup schedule here: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/worldcup/fixtures?&lpos=wcnav&lid=gn_sn_WC+fixtures&cc=5901

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