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December 10, 2005

World Cup finals draw - good for England, tough for the US, awful for Japan

The groups and matches for the 2006 World Cup finals were announced last night. England should have an easy time of it in Group B, with Sweden the only real challenge in their group. The USA, in Group E, has a much tougher road, with Italy and the Czech Republic to advance past. Not only that, but Group E faces off with Group F in the knockout stages, so the runner-up will in all likelihood face Brazil. Here is the American view on that:

If the U.S. team advances to the second round, it most likely would play defending champion Brazil, Croatia or Australia. What will Arena do if the Americans get past the first round? "I'll be drinking in the hotel bar," he said

And that is why Japan has it tough...it is already in Group F and will play Brazil along with Croatia and Ghana - it would be surprising if they made it past the group stage. That rounds out the teams I have an interest in.

The tournament starts with host Germany and Costa Rica on 9 June in Frankfurt. That should be an interesting match...I wonder if it will be as surprising as France-Senegal at the 2002 World Cup finals. I hope so - Germany was lucky to get to the final in 2002 and I would like to see them knocked out early.

Here are the match-ups for England, the USA and Japan. I am really keen to see England-Sweden (I went to the same match in 2002 in Saitama, Japan), all the US games, and Japan v Brazil.

England matches
10-Jun-06 Frankfurt v Paraguay
15-Jun-06 Nuremberg v Trinidad
20-Jun-06 Cologne v Sweden

USA matches
12-Jun-06 Gelsenkirchen v Czech Republic
17-Jun-06 Kaiserslautern v Italy
22-Jun-06 Nuremberg v Ghana

Japan matches
12-Jun-06 Kaiserslautern v Australia
18-Jun-06 Nuremberg v Croatia
22-Jun-06 Dortmund v Brazil

If you are wondering where some of these places are, click here for a BBC guide to the venues. It has a map with the locations as well as facts on the stadiums, including trivia. For example, the ground in Gelsenkirchen has a 5km beer pipeline...what else do you need to know?

Posted by Kirk on December 10, 2005 04:23 PM