As the group phase is about to conclude (with the last 2 groups being decided today) here are some pieces of trivea and comments from the group phase:
- Remember the famous 1998 final - What was so significant about it? Well, it was the last time Brazil lost a world cup match and the last time France won a world cup match (Hope this trivea holds good only till the time France meet Togo tonight)
- Coach Luis Fellipe Scolari has now won 10 consecutive world cup final matches - 7 for Brazil in 2002 and 3 for Portugal in 2006. Hope he extends his run but by just one more match. Portugal beat Holland in a nail-biter and then lose to England in another would be just what I want.
- Ronaldo finally moved and got boot (and head) to ball as he scored twice and created history. He is now at par with Gerd Muller with the most no. of goals in world cup finals (14). Will the magic 15th come against Ghana?
- Brazil finally displayed the 'beautiful game' that they are known for and what the fans expect. Was it the result of being 0-1 down? I guess so. As a soccer fan thus, I pray that Ghana take a 1-0 lead withing the first 10 minutes. I am sure we will then get the best 80 mins of the world cup. Who can forget Brazil's display when they were 0-1 down the last time after Michael Owen scored in the 2002 QF? Like last night, that day too the equalizer came in 1st half injury time - an amazing Ronaldinho-Rivaldo combo.
- Australia held Croatia in a tough, hard-fought match full of drama and is bound to give the Azzuri a hard time in their 2nd round clash. Dont be surprised if its a 1-1 and then penalties. And we all know how good the Azurris are when it comes to penalties.
- Italy put the final nail into the Czech coffin making it a sad exit for Nedved and co. A journey which showed so much promise after the convincing 3-0 win against the US came to a abrupt end. Al least one upset is due in any world cup final - this time it fell on the Czechs. It was all too emotional to watch Buffon hugging Nedved at the end of the match. This is what makes the beautiful game even more beautiful.
- As of now, Portugal V Holland looks to be the match of Round II in a re-match of their semi-final clash in Euro 2004. Portugal won convincingly then but its going to be far from easy this time around. France V Spain is another possibility unless the French cross all limits and fail to beat Togo. Fireworks can be expected in Germany's and Argentina's matches too against Sweden and Mexico.
- All in all if things go right, we are in for some mouth watering Quarter Finals, the most awaited ones being Germany V Argentina and Brazil V Spain.
Lets hope and pray that the big guns dont disappoint. The REAL world cup starts now.