Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Germany 2006

I always hoped this could be the year England finally claims a World Cup title since the last one in 1966. After all, they still claim at least a sentimental ownership of the beautiful game--even Barcelona has an English flag on their offical team seal and so does AC Milan--so I thought it was about time. Early this year, you could make a very good case for England winning the big one this year. Their offense is as good as any team on the planet: Owen and Rooney up front and playing right behind them you have Lampard, Gerrard, and Beckham; that's enough to strike fear into any team that has to defend against them, and I told an English colleague so. He had his doubts. He was privy to some inner workings that are covered in the British press and not covered here. Like the discord in the ranks due to England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's management style. But still...

It's May now and the the World Cup's next month and things are not looking all that well for England. They have a team plagued with injuries. Wayne Rooney is a doubtful starter, having injured his foot in a Premiere League match against Chelsea. Michael Owen also missed Newcastle's final match, also against Chelsea, due also to a broken foot. England would have to pin its hopes on a forward line composed of two unproven players: the long, tall, Liverpool forward Peter Crouch, and the 17-year old Theo Walcott, who has yet to play a major-league football game for Arsenal. (A showdown with American sensation, 16-year old Freddy Adu, wouldve been fun to watch if Adu got picked for the U.S. team.) That said, Peter Crouch might just be the X-Factor for this English team, especially in set pieces. Look for Beckham's passes to keep finding Crouch.

A betting man wouldnt put up money on the England team in its present, hobbled state--top defenders Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole are also coming from injuries--but it would be nice to see the country that gave us football finally win one. The smart money is definitely on defending champions Brazil, but how satisfying is it for a fan from a country that probably won't even be within range of the World Cup in the next century to watch while the superstar-laden Brazilian team take the cup home again this year? An underdog win is a lot more satisfying for Pinoys, since we're that: the perennial underdogs. In everything. Except billiards. In 1998, it was the underdog French that did it (who promptly bombed out in the first round in 2002). Who knows? Maybe this year, the English could do it.

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