Either by design or coincidence, Brazil and France (winners of the last 3 World Cups between them) will play all their group stage matches on the same day (and this could continue until they meet in the quarters or the semis).
Last time around, Brazil beat Croatia 1-0 – champions in second gear, as some said. After Spain mauled Ukraine 4-0 and Argentina hit Serbia & Mont. for 6, everyone is looking for a far better performance from the reigning (and five time) World Champions against Australia.
France, on the other hand, are stuck in neutral. Their performance on the 13th against the Swiss smacked of a team unsure of whether to attack (or how to attack) or defend. The Swiss stood firm and held off Ribery, Henry and Wiltord – not the most accomplished front line by any means.
The third match today is Japan vs Croatia (and that’s what we’ll be starting off with). Should a be tight, hard-fought game with both sides needing to win in order to have a chance of progressing to the next round. Despite Australia’s impressive comeback against the Japanese I’m still tipping Croatia to accompany Brazil out of Group F – if only because Croatia can match Australia physically and are better defenders than Japan (possibly better finishers too).
A day for more upsets (like yesterday, when Ghana beat favorites Czech Republic and much-maligned USA held Italy to a draw)? I wouldn’t bet against Brazil, but with France you never really know.
Brazil beat Australia 3-0
France draw South Korea 1-1
Croatia beat Japan 1-0
I could be hopelessly wrong come 2 am, when the final match finishes.
[tags]World Cup, World Cup 2006, Brazil, France[/tags]