Viva Germany 2006!

So Friday morning (America time) brought us the start of the FIFA World Cup 2006, live from Germany. The opening match to kick the cup off featured host country Germany versus Costa Rica and for those who might not be football purists, it was a rather entertaining affair on the pitch as the onion bag found the back of the net six times with Germany winning 4-2. I would also venture a guess that we saw two of the best goals of the cup from Germany’s Philipp Lahm to open the scoring 6′ into the match. Lahm cut back on the left side of the pitch with a beautiful bender into the top right corner of the the goal, clipping the post. The final tally of the match for Germany came on a rocket of a shot from about 25m out from Torsten Frings. Miraslav Klose of Germany and Paulo Wanchope of Costa Rica both tallied two netters.

The second match featured Poland versus Ecuador from Gelsenkirchen. One of the early knocks on Ecuador was the ability to play on their home pitch, which sits at about 9000′ above sea level in the city of Quito. La Tri[color] might have silenced some critics after a grand showing shutting out Poland by a score of 2-0. The 24′ of the match saw Carlos Tenorio score on a long throw from Ulises dela Cruz that skimmed off the head of Agustin Delgado before Tenorio headed the ball for a 1-0 lead. Second half action was spirited on both sides, as Poland tried to draw square, while Ecuador attempted to put the game away. The 80′ would be the proverbial “nail in the coffin” as substitute, Ivan Kaviedes received a perfect pass in the open, sent a square pass to Agustin Delgado who finished the play. While there would be no more scoring, Poland had their chances in final minutes striking the post and crossbar on consecutive shots.

As I said, some entertaining football in the early matches, which have sometimes seen very low 1-0 scores, but yesterday was different. Two matches down and 62 to go as another cup favorite, England starts on the road to the cup versus Paraguay. The USA opens play on Monday, June 12 against the #2 ranked nation in the world, Czech Republic, while my favorite nation, Italia opens against Ghana. Thankfully all 64 games will be televised on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, so I might not get much sleep when I get off work at 0530. Today I will stay up, feed my son and watch the England match without Wayne Rooney.

Who’s your pick to win the cup? Bittar, good luck to the Brazilians!?

World Cup Draw

I gotta be honest, as a young, through high school and yes even two years in college I played footie. For those in America we know it as soccer. The World Cup is held every 4 years (sorta like the Olympics but more exciting), but the competition spans a three year qualifying period. This year the host country is Germany…ja, Zee Germanz!

Today was the draw for the unseeded squads, which were divided into three “pots” by geographic location. When the draw was complete, there were 8 groups labeled A through H. For those in the USA, they are in Group E, along with Ghana (first time qualifier), the Czech Republic and European powerhouse, Italy. Group E is already being called, “group of death“, where any of the four teams could qualify for the next round or be eliminated.

Of course when it comes to World Cup action, I always enjoy watching Italia, a country rich in football history. Their last World Cup championship was back in 1982, since then their best showing was 1994 as the runners-up to Brazil who won 3-2 on penalty kicks after the extra time expired at 0-0. Did I mention these guys kick ass in FIFA Soccer for Xbox?

Their current squad is very strong from Christian Vieri, (Italy’s greatest striker the last decade) to Fabio Cannavaro (Captain of the 2005 Italian national team) and Gianluigi Buffon, keeper for Juventus (Italy’s oldest, most successful football clubs) and the national team.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany finals are scheduled in 12 venues in throughout Germany between 9 June and 9 July 2006. Group E action begins on 12 June with Italy facing Ghana and the United States taking on Czech Republic.