Can Czech Republic create history?
HindustanTimes.com acquaints you with Group E favourite for World Cup. FIFA Rewind : Chile, 1962 World Cup | PicsUpdated: Jun 04, 2006 21:25 IST
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CZECH REPUBLIC - Odds 33/1
Group E> Italy, United States, Ghana
Qualification> Runners-up in Europe Group 1
World Cup wins> None
With Czech Republic at no. 2, the United States at no. 5 and Italy at no. 12, Group E probably clubs the toughest and the highest rated teams in the world.
Except Ghana, which is a first timer, all the sides are evenly matched in strength and appeal and would fancy their chances of moving on to the next round without much difficulty. But the trouble is, only two can succeed.
|Czech Republic - 2nd|
|United States - 5th|
|Italy - 13th|
|Ghana - 48th|
To add further pressure, no team would like to finish second, since it would most definitely have to face Group F winner — Brazil.
The Italia have won three World Cups and it appears logical when punters label it as favourites to advance first at 4/5. Yet, Czech Republic emerges as a stronger candidate, purely on the basis of form and its undying ability to perform at the big stage.
In Euro 2004, it showed the same belief where it crushed higher-ranked opponents. This time round, FIFA ranks it second in the world — that by no means is a small feat!
US has its fair share of reputation to fight gallantly and upset stronger opponents. But to advance to second round, would be a dream stretched too far, since the team would have to tie a game with either Czech or Italy and then beat Ghana comprehensively. At 6/1, the odds of that happening look remote.
Ghana is the final team that caps off Group E, hoping not to incur the wrath of European giants.
Who to watch:Pavel Nedved. He had already retired once, but his nation's chance to qualify for these finals lured him back. Nedved is simply one of the most inventive talents in the past decade. Stopping him is a tall order for any defense.
Who's missing: Promising 23-year-old Tomas Jun played in seven of the Czech Republic's qualifiers, but suffered through a bad season after leaving Sparta Prague.
In 1990, Czech handed a crushing 5-1 defeat to US. There has been no match thereafter.
Mark your date: USA v Czech Republic, June 12, 2130 IST
Ghana has never faced Czech Reublic in a World Cup game or a warm-up match. The African minnows will be making its debut appearence this summer.
Mark your date: Czech Republic v Ghana, June 17, 2130 IST
Judging by the past record, Czech Republic and Italy are on equal terms . Both sides have 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses from 5 games played. Don't miss this clash!
Mark your date: Czech Republic v Italy, June 22, 1930 IST
Group F would be reviewed tomorrow.
First Published: Jun 04, 2006 09:30 IST