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Okay fellas (and ladies), there's less than 3 weeks until the first World Cup match, so I thought I'd kick off ANALYSIS time for the first round before we open up the Ecuador-Italy thread. :fero:
We enter a May 18 friendly vs. the Czechs in fairly good shape, tho I'm not sure of Vieri's and Totti's legs. We then travel to Asia for the World Cup. :eek:
Who will be our toughest opponent in the first round - Ecuador, Croatia or Mexico? All three matches will be pretty tough if you ask me. There aren't any roll overs these days and I'm expecting a very competitive first round.
Ecuador, our initial match, is very tricky because we are not familiar with them and they are World Cup virgins that are probably gonna come out roaring to impress. I hope we have been scouting them. I view this as a moderately tricky match, similar to Chile of 1998 (we barely scrapped a 2-2 tie w/ a Baggio PK). Still, inexperience, as the match will wear on, could cost Ecuador. Italy has a tendency to keep their heads very well and just kinda hang around until a counter attack strike. Difficulty level on a scale of 1-10: 7.
Croatia has been dealt a heavy blow by the loss of Tudor, a brilliant def/middie that does it all and was on his way to being among the world's greatest before getting hurt. It's a shame the Croatian fans view his injury as a conspiracy. :rolleyes: Anyway, the squad has plenty of other talent, knows our style well and should offer a good deal of resistence. But I don't think they are as good as they were in 98, not by far. Diff level: 8.
Mexico, our last match, is tough, real tough. The Mexicans play tremendous in World Cups, they totally raise their game. Remember the Germans barely managing to get passed them in 98? They are really quick and proud. Their league sucks and their national team has gotten worse, but I am hoping we only need a draw by this point in the first round because the Mexicans are so tenacious. Diff level: 8.
Please tell me how you all feel. ;)
AZZURI LOVER :cool:
 

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CNN's power rankings for the 32 teams with

Croatia # 6
Mexico # 23
Ecuador# 25

I think Mexico is more unpredictable. Then Croatia. Then Ecuador.

The team should win the group.
 

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I think Mexico will be the toughest opponent in the first round for Italy.

Mexico has a lot of World Cup experience, more than Croatia and certainly more than Ecuador. Of course Croatia has a lot of champions and as you can see is rated much more highly than Mexico by CNN but Mexico is always a tough nut to crack in the World Cups.

Don't underestimate Ecuador either, even though this will be their first World Cup, they are a very organized team who qualified second in the South American qualifiers ahead of teams like Brazil and Paraguay.


Of course Italy is the favorite to win their group, I expect them to qualify first.
 

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Croatia

the defence is still strong

Zivkovic (bayer) Simic (inter) Kovac (bayern) Jarni

This is no pushover....i can guarantee that delcrappio wont score against them, and with vieri's troubling legs, he just might be starting


Lav
 

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Vieri is NOT injured at all and if he can't start then it will be the cheating, diving kunt chick Pippa Inzaghi who will start! Poor Italy:(
 

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I agree with LAV, Croatia will the toughest opponent due to their strong defense.


The Italians are notorious slow starters so the opening games will be of concern if they are too complacent with their opponents.
 

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I rate Croatia and Mexico as our biggest worries in the first round. Croatia, despite the loss of Tudor, still has very good players (as Lav mentioned). But Ecuador could surprise.

Please try not to bash the players even though this is a pre-WC analysis thread. :)
 

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It's no doubt Croatai followed by Mexico then probably Ecuador, but there are no easy games in a World Cup. If Italy can at least draw with Croatia on June 8 in Ibaraki then they will probably will the group.

Mexico as always bring an experienced team to the tournament and although theuir captain Claudio Suaez is out they will be keen to at least make the second round, as will Ecuador in their debut appearance.

Some people are calling this the "second group of death"
 

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All of them will be a tough opponent, but I think Croatia is the biggest threat just like all of you think.
Mexico, they surely are no pushover either, we really have to make sure that we already have 6 points in the bag by time we met them in the last group stage.
As for Ecuador, frankly I don't have any clue about their in depth squad........so I'm a little bit worried becos we have to make sure that we'll get 3 points against them!
 

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:rollani:
 
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