The ABCs of FIFA World Cup 2006


Finish this sentence: Ronaldinho passes it back to ……… . It doesn’t matter how big the beautiful game gets around the world, average North American sports fans just don’t follow soccer as closely as their football-cr

Finish this sentence: Ronaldinho passes it back to ……… . It doesn’t matter how big the beautiful game gets around the world, average North American sports fans just don’t follow soccer as closely as their football-crazed counterparts in Europe and South America. Some knowledge is universal: Brazil rules and David Beckham has quite the knack for “bending it,” but after these basics many casual soccer fans start drawing blanks. These ABCs of FIFA World Cup 2006 will get you primed for all the action on the pitch June 9th to July 9th in Germany.

A Always artful in their attack, Argentina utilizes a dynamic one-touch passing system that keeps opponents on their toes. World Cup Champions: 1978, 1986.

B Brazil, the odds on favourite, plays to the beat of a kicking samba drum. World Cup Champions: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002.

C The wild and crazy Czechs are ranked number two in the world. Led by Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved and Aston Villa striker Milan Baros who was the top goal scorer at Euro 2004.

D Debutants— Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, and Ukraine all make their first World Cup appearance.

E Jolly old England has lofty expectations, but as in the past team chemistry could be an obstacle to success. World Cup Champ: 1966.

F Even in the twilight of his career, midfielder Luis Figo is still one of the most masterful dribblers in the world. The Portuguese daily Journal de Noticias once described him as having, “the Devil in his boots.”

G Homefield advantage matters but once Germany gets past the group stage, will their Teutonic tactical efficiency be enough to carry them all the way?
World Cup Champs: 1954, 1974, 1990.

H Hooligans take the fight out of the game and into the stands. A ban on 1000 known English soccer hooligans recently expired allowing the louts to attend the World Cup.

I Luca Toni helms this star studded Italian squad backed by Gianluigi Buffon, one of the finest goal keepers in the world. World Cup Champs: 1934, 1938, 1982.

J Jürgen Klinsmann was always a big game hunter, a classy finisher who exemplified leadership. In his new role as Germany’s coach expect more of the same.

K The Koreans are more soccer crazed than ever and are itching to prove that 2002’s fourth place finish was no fluke.

L Ladies of the night. Germany’s 400,000 legal prostitutes will be out in force with extra brothels being set up to meet the demand of visitors who plan on having a little nookie with their footie.

M Mexico made it out of the group stage in the last three world cups only to fall apart in the first round of the knockout phase, playing piñata to Bulgaria, Germany and the U.S. respectively.

N Never count out, the Netherlands. Helmed by goal machine Ruud van Nistelrooy, a.k.a "Rutergus," the Dutch can be downright deadly.

O O-way, O-way, O-way, O-way is soccer’s most hummable chant.

P A sizzling combination of red-hot young talent and salty veterans spice this Portuguese side. With genius coach Luiz Felipe Scolari calling the shots, this team is destined for greatness.

Q The U.S. are in a bit of a Quagmire, buried in Group E where they must contend with Italy, the Czech Republic and Ghana.

R: Ronaldinho, simply soccer’s greatest star.

S: Sex: “I don't think that sex one day before the game will harm the player. Just sex, no problem,” Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira told Maxim. “The problem is, they don't eat, they don't sleep, they smoke and they drink…sex is always very good—always welcome.”

T: Italian soccer fanatics are praying that playmaking sensation Francesco Totti is in top form after missing a chunk of the season with a leg injury.

U: Uruguay is not in it this time, but Paraguay is.

V: Mark Viduka is Australia’s most lethal weapon. He’ll be counted on to get the Aussie attack hopping.

W: Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has been a media darling since bursting onto the scene in 2002. The 20-year-old freckled phenom is a frontrunner for the Adidas golden shoe award.

X: X-Rays survey the damage when the game gets ugly. In 1990 Argentina’s goalie Nery Pumpido needed some after a collision with Soviet striker Oleg Protasov crushed his right leg.

Y: Yabba dabba Deutschland! Howl this out loud every time Germany’s Michael Ballack pops one by the keeper.

Z: Zinedine Zidane came out of retirement to help France qualify. Zizou is still a wizard with the ball but he alone cannot start the French Soccer Renaissance.

This article first ran in the May 2006 issue of Chill Magazine

Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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