As the World (Cup) Turns...

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Greg Galitzine

As the World (Cup) Turns...

Let’s just say that I should never have counted out the Portuguese. My bad.
Eu desculpo-me.
While I’m guilty of having left the Italians off my list of second round winners, I was not too far off, was I? A suspect penalty call doesn’t get called, and we’d all be learning the words to Waltzing Matilda. Italy had better step up if they wish to avoid being sent home after their next match. Granted, Ukraine’s Shevchenko hasn’t really set himself on fire yet in this tournament. If he stays quiet, perhaps Italy and the Ukraine will play themselves into a tie and cancel each other out?
Tomorrow’s Germany vs. Argentina match has all the hallmarks of a World Cup final – too bad it’s a quarterfinal match. It’s always tough to root against the home team, especially one that’s playing as well as Germany is, but Argentina have proven themselves worthy of consideration. Another Maxi Rodriguez miracle goal might be all that it takes.
While I hardly had a stellar record after the first round, I feel the need to continue to throw good predictions after bad and offer my picks for the quarterfinal round and beyond.
*Germany/Argentina? Argie. No guts, no glory…
*Italy/Ukraine? If I must, I must…: Ukraine. The Cinderella run continues.
*England/Portugal? We go Figo. Even though the Portugal side is beat up and red-carded, they’ll find a way.
*Brazil/France? Samba samba samba. The French are liable to surrender the midfield and the goals all day long.
I’m so torn about picking Argentina over the Germans. My gut says stick with the home team, but I can’t.
Moving into next week, we’ll see Argie beat Ukraine, and Brazil beat Portugal setting up an All-South American Final. In Europe. Only one South American team has ever won it all in Europe (Brazil ’58) and I’m picking two to go to the final?
And while you should never bet against a defending champion, especially one as dominant as Brazil can be, what the heck? Against all thoughts to the contrary, I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Argentina.
Buena suerte. No me defraudes.
While we’re picking winners of European sporting events, this weekend also marks the start of the Tour de France, the first Tour in a post Lance Armstrong world.
Again I find myself torn between racers. Who will win it all? The odds-on favorites are Ivan Basso and perennial Armstrong nemesis Jan Ullrich. And they both stand out among those who can indeed take the podium in Paris in 3 weeks. Another name being bandied about is that of Floyd Landis, the American leader of Phonak, who is perhaps the best placed American, and one with a realistic shot.
Of course no European cycling event would be complete without the stench of doping and this year is no exception. If given the all-clear and allowed into the race, Kazakh superstar Alexander Vinokourov would be my favorite – let’s hope the scandal is not too much of a distraction.
Lastly let’s mention the two best hopes of the Discovery Channel team, longtime Armstrong lieutenant George Hincapie (he’s from Queens, NY as am I – shout-out to the bike track in Kissena Park!) and Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych. If the Disco boys can work as a team as well as they did for Lance, there’s no reason Hincapie or Popovych can’t finish in the top tier. Give the nod here to Hincapie, since he’s served Armstrong so well for so long, but over the course of three weeks anything can happen.
With such a talented field and a lack of a clear winner, I’m going to stick with Vinokourov as my favorite. If it turns out he’s not allowed to ride, I’ll take Basso as my fallback and Hincapie as my third choice.

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Good thing you don't gamble on sports (you don't, right?) Even Meatloaf got 2 out of 3...

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