2018 World Cup

Discussion in 'Soccer' started by Shadowlight, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Shadowlight

    Shadowlight Mentor

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  2. Thrashen

    Thrashen Hall of Famer

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    Here are the groups. It’s nice to see that there are no groups containing more than two European nations (France not included), keeping white-on-white cannibalizm to a minimum...

    Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

    Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco)

    Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

    Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

    Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

    Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

    Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

    Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan
     
  3. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    As my answer to a post from the “2018 World Cup Qualifying” thread (http://castefootball.us/index.php?threads/2018-world-cup-qualifying.36005/page-3#post-712147) is also relevant to this discussion, I’ll consolidate things by replying here, thereby providing a bit of information about the state of the Australian national team and its World Cup “potential”. I hope you may deem it both interesting and illuminating.

    The Socceroos have already “shined” on the world stage back in 2014, when their collective “wattage” couldn’t power a tiny keyring torch. Three games, three losses, goal difference of -6. The stuff of national epics. Going back to the 2014 qualifiers, the mighty Socceroos lost away to Jordan, scraped two draws with Oman, and scraped past Iraq 1-0 at home in the final match. Talk about a catalogue of embarrassments. But not according to Australian media “experts”, who possess the unique, supernaturally incisive ability to deduce something nobody else has ever managed to perceive, namely: that the aforementioned sand Negro teams are all “tricky and difficult opponents”.

    As you can see, the path to the headline-grabbing “successes” of today has been carefully laid for years. This time, of course, the Socceroos miraculously managed to improve upon their last World Cup qualification campaign by failing to secure an automatic berth. Such a feat required multiple levels of stupefying incompetence. Thankfully, the FFA, the A-League, and its ten constituent clubs can serve up endless hogsheads of 190 proof incompetence. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I forgot: qualification for the Word Cup finals by way of the AFC and an intercontinental playoff against the fourth-placed CONCACAF team is a great - nay, “historic” - achievement because the brave Socceroos endured plenty of long haul flights and overcame an apparently endless succession of “tricky and difficult opponents”…

    That joke of an intercontinental playoff was contested by two appallingly substandard sides who would succumb without a whimper to virtually all of the European teams that finished second and third in the UEFA qualification groups. Australia and Honduras couldn’t dream of beating Chile, Paraguay, or Ecuador over two legs either. Yet Australia will “compete” (that’s a laugh…) at next year’s World Cup following an “arduous” campaign in which they “eliminated” Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Thailand and…Honduras. The latter had progressed to the playoff after winning a massive five out of sixteen matches against doubtlessly “tricky and dangerous” CONCACAF opposition.

    The Socceroos recorded a 3-1 second leg win in Sydney against a truly woeful, non-League level Honduras team which displayed an almost allergic aversion to attacking and whose players - in typical Central and South American fashion - spent more time rolling about on the ground theatrically clutching their faces in tiresome attempts to milk free kicks and yellow cards than on playing football. Even then, Australia couldn’t score from open play to save their lives and progressed courtesy of a fortuitously deflected free kick and two penalties. I literally spent the entire match shaking my fist, snarling, and hurling profanities at the TV and made sure to leave the room at half time to avoid hearing the usual reality-free bullsh!t artistry from a “panel of experts”…

    Just when one might think that things couldn’t conceivably get any “better”…

    (a) national team manager Ange Postecoglou resigns exactly one week after World Cup qualification was “achieved” and,

    (b) the FFA is still embroiled in a messy, protracted administrative dispute with the A-League, the PFA (Professional Players’ Union), the state member federations, and the idiotically-named National Premier Leagues (the various state-based second tier competitions) over the composition of the FFA Congress. This may ultimately result in FIFA sacking the current FFA board. Just out of interest, the FFA Chairman is a Jew by the name of Steven Lowy. Who was the previous chairman? Why, that would be Steven Lowy’s father, Frank Lowy. Blatant Jewish nepotism? Um, er, nothing of the sort, you “racist”, “anti-Semite”, and “fascist”…

    Speculation about Postecoglou’s future as Socceroos coach had abounded since the extra time win over Syria in the AFC playoff back in October but he carefully avoided confirming or denying whether he would remain in the manager’s position if Australia qualified for the finals. During the press conference in which he announced his resignation, Postecoglou cited the personal and professional toll national team management had taken upon both him and his family. In my opinion, Postecoglou simply wished to avoid the humiliation of another potential (or - more accurately - highly likely) three-loss first round finals exit like the one he oversaw during the previous World Cup.

    I don’t really blame the bloke for bailing out well before the rickety, spluttering Socceroo ultralight enters the World Cup storm and is smashed into atoms. Sure, Postecoglou isn’t anywhere near a top class manager - or even an average mid-level European league manager - by any stretch of the imagination but the players at his disposal are utter rubbish and the “upcoming” generation of “stars” will be even worse. He saw a bleak June on the horizon and an even bleaker future beyond. In this context, a decision to cut his losses and hand the rusted, leaky chalice to some other unfortunate glutton for punishment is entirely understandable.

    The names bandied about as Postecoglou’s successor are less than inspiring. The advocates for an Australian manager suggest Graham Arnold or Kevin Muscat. Both of these tactical illiterates would be even worse than Postecoglou. The “deep thinking” Arnold already has a botched tenure as Socceroos manager on his pencil-written resume. Back in 2006-2007, he steered Australia to three wins, one draw, and five losses.

    Muscat’s claim to fame is his reputation as one of the dirtiest players the sport has ever seen. As a manager, his “tactics” are about as predictable as they come…

    Then there’s talk of re-appointing ex-Socceroos manager Gus Hiddink. The fat-faced Dutchman is still viewed as some kind of genius for getting the Socceroos into the second round of the 2006 World Cup.

    Disturbingly enough, Jurgen Klinsmann is also reportedly under consideration…

    Can Australia get out of Group C? I don’t think so. The impotent Socceroos struggled to score against amateurish Asian opposition. We don’t have any strikers capable of delivering the goods at World Cup finals level, where defences are infinitely tighter than those of Tajikistan, Jordan, Thailand, Iraq, or the United Arab Emirates. Then again, we don't have anyone who can pass the ball to the "strikers" either. Australia’s chances of scoring against Denmark, France, and Peru are - to be generous - minimal. Half-Samoan “Socceroos legend” Tim Cahill turns thirty eight in two days time - yet is still regarded as Australia’s most dangerous weapon. Quod erat demonstrandum…

    The finals are still six months away so it’s quite early to proffer opinions and predictions. A lot can happen in six months. Key players of various participating teams may be injured, lose form, or receive minimal game time at their clubs for any number of reasons. Such factors can drastically alter a team’s potential, particularly that of nations which lack depth on the bench.

    For example, if Robert Lewandowski happened to suffer an injury serious enough to either rule him out of the finals or prevent him from playing for several weeks prior to the beginning of the tournament, Poland would be - how can I put it politely - f***d. You may recall that Lewandowski was disconcertingly out of form during Euro 2016 and only managed a single goal in five games. Consequently, Poland scored a paltry four goals during the entire tournament…

    Groups A and G look remarkably easy. Barring disasters, Russia, Uruguay, England, and Belgium should all move though to the knockout stage.

    In Group A, hosts Russia have almost suspiciously been handed an all but guaranteed passage to the second round. Their track record in major competitions, however, is miserable. With the exception of EURO 2008 (in which they reached the semifinals - but were twice belted by Spain, to the tune of 4-1 in the first round and 3-0 in the semifinal), post-USSR Russia has either failed to qualify for the World Cup and European Championship or has been eliminated in the first round. But I cannot see them losing at home to either Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Anyway, if things aren’t going well against the sand Negroes, expect the opposition to “concede” a penalty or receive a red card, while Vladimir Putin applauds and looks on approvingly from his “complimentary” free seat…

    Speaking of the ever-popular, quasi-revered Russia…

    Russian squads are almost never all-White, and usually feature at least a couple of players who are either Tatars, part-Tatars, Azeris, Ingush, Ossetians or some other inbred Asiatic denizens of the Caucasus.

    England’s Group B is just as weak and there are no excuses for failing to progress to the second round. World Cup debutant Panama’s population is half that of Greater London. The Panamanians are in the finals after winning a whopping six of their sixteen qualification matches. Who did these Negro-Amerindian-mestizo pricks record victories against? That would be Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica. Tunisia are Arab lightweights. Significantly, they are coached by an Arab (at least for the time being…) so shall probably be quite disorganised, cynical, and unambitious in their matches against England and Belgium. Don’t be surprised if the Tunisians try to waste plenty of time squirming about feigning injury.

    Right, that’s enough for now. I’ll offer my thoughts about the remaining groups later in the week…
     
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  4. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    First of all, thanks for the comprehensive analysis of Australian soccer. Though given how it sounds to follow Australian football - a lot more :mad: than :icon_popcorn: - it's probably not good for your state of mind, and perhaps overall health.

    Anyway...you mentioned Hiddink. Recently whilst watching the EPL I was struck by how many of the managers are the same old people - Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes. Well, at least Harry Redknapp seems to be finally done, but who really knows as these guys are available for more bad sequels than Sylvester Stallone. In the international game you've got Dick Advocaat, who just stepped down after failing to get the Netherlands to Russia. Before him it was Hiddink, Capello, and long ago Sven-Goran Eriksson, now coaching a club team in China! It's like the owners and Football Associations just recycle the same old guys year after year until it becomes impossible even for time-serving bureaucrats working for Third World national associations to notice that these guys are never going to accomplish anything beyond filling their own bank accounts. The Australian FA can't have that much money to throw away on some fly-by 'brand name' manager who is starting from scratch. In countries that don't have much of a history in the sport their FAs often lack confidence in their own coaches - maybe with good reason! - but at the very least maybe they should consider some one under 40, whether Australian or foreign, as they are more likely to be in touch with the modern game.
     
  5. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    The Russians got as good a draw as they could've hoped for. Even better, the weakest team in the group, Saudi Arabia, is their first opponent, so they've a chance to get a win under their belt early on and build some confidence. I've read that the Egyptian team is actually quite good. I didn't see any of their games and all those North African teams seem generic to me but Algeria did well in 2014 and the so-called experts say these Egyptians are better so we'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if Russia joined South Africa in being the only hosts in history to be eliminated in the group stage. (They had a sports hosting disaster three years ago in Sochi when their hockey team, with a politically appointed out of touch coach, was eliminated early on in front of Putin. The next day Kiev blew up. It was not a happy week for Russia. They threw tens of billions away. Next year could be another embarrassment for them).
     
  6. Rebajlo

    Rebajlo Mentor

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    Matra2 -

    Glad to be of service.

    The standard of Australian soccer is so atrociously amateurish that I pay it next to no heed at all beyond checking the results and lineups and very occasionally wincing through short highlights packages. The (sub) standard of the A-League is amply evidenced by the “performance” of Australian clubs in the AFC Champions League. With the notable exception (or, more accurately, aberration) of the Western Sydney Wanderers winning the title in 2014, Australian clubs have regularly embarrassed themselves in the Asian Champions League. Since 2014, no Australian team has managed to reach the quarterfinals. This year, all three of the A-League’s representatives were eliminated at the group stage. Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar finished at the bottom of their respective groups while Adelaide United were third.

    The latest names to be linked with the Socceroos job are those of Sven-Goran Eriksson (groan…), Marcelo Bielsa, Luis Felipe Scolari, Carlos Quieroz (who is currently managing Iran), Bert van Marwijk (ex-Netherlands national team who recently parted ways with Saudi Arabia), and the Serb Slavoljub Muslin. Even Harry Redknapp has emerged from a coffin to announce his “availability”.

    Eriksson is one of those recyclable nomenklatura managers you were talking about. Football management appears to be an occupation in which abject failure and waste of millions upon millions of pounds / euros within successive organisations has little or no detrimental effect upon the employment prospects of “big names”.

    Seventy-year-old Roy Hodgson is at Crystal Palace. Now, one might imagine that Hodgson’s disastrous six-month stint at Liverpool would have terminated his managerial career, particularly as he was already in his mid-sixties. But no, he went to West Brom before being entrusted with the England job in 2012. Yet again, England’s first round elimination at the last World Cup should have resulted in Hodgson’s immediate sacking and permanent removal from the game. The FA, of course, chose to retain his “services”, thereby allowing him to stuff up Euro 2016 as well (designating Harry Kane to take corners, et cetera…).

    Sometimes, I think the only way to get rid of a nomenklatura manager is to drive a stake through his heart, decapitate the corpse and stuff the severed head’s mouth full of garlic. ;)

    Egypt rarely play anyone from outside Africa and the Arab world. A month or so ago, I looked through their recent records on FIFA’s website and it appears that the last occasion on which Egypt faced a European team was all the way back in 2014. The opponent? Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Balkan Muslims who might as well be Turks or Arabs anyway…

    On paper, Group B (Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran) is only marginally “stronger” than Groups A and G because Iran tend to possess a bit more defensive “resilience” than Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, or Panama. But that’s not really saying much, is it? Therefore, unless disaster strikes, Portugal and Spain have also been gifted the equivalent of free passage into the second round.

    Group C (France, Denmark, Peru, Australia) may at first glance appear to be comparatively evenly-balanced but - as I said in my last post - Australia are the weakest of the four by a country mile, particularly in terms of creativity (zero) and striking options (negligible).

    Here’s something that many of you may probably be unaware of. During the South American qualifiers, Peru lost 2-0 away to Bolivia but was later awarded a 3-0 victory when the result was nullified because the Bolivians had fielded an ineligible player. For the same reason, Chile was also awarded a 3-0 win against Bolivia instead of the scoreless draw that had actually been played. This is significant as the pair of 3-0 walkovers allowed both teams to finish above Paraguay, who would otherwise have claimed fifth spot and entered the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. So, purely based on results on the field, Peru were not “the fifth best team” in South America. The Peruvians should have finished in seventh spot and continued their unenviable streak of failing to qualify for the finals since 1982. Incidentally, I watched Peru’s last World Cup match as a kid. The little Rebajlo was all smiles as Poland took them apart 5-1. Three goals in six second-half minutes. Those were the days…

    Looking at Group D (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria), one would expect Argentina to go through to the second round without any difficulties. But the Argentines have been making hard work of things over the last year or so. Perhaps they shall finally hit “championship” form in June? Who knows? Optimum form or not, I’d still tip Argentina to finish in the top two and enter the knockout phase.

    Iceland and Croatia were in the same group during the qualification tournament and have remarkably been drawn together again in the finals. Both of their matches in the qualifiers ended with a win for the home team: Croatia won 2-0 in Zagreb while Iceland recorded a last-minute 1-0 victory in Reykjavik. But those results shall be irrelevant a year later in a World Cup finals scenario.

    Nigeria (who were in the same group as Argentina in the last World Cup) may have been unbeaten in the CAF qualification tournament but their current squads appear to be weaker than that which reached the second round in Brazil. Nevertheless, the Negroes tend to approach such high-pressure matches with a relaxed and adventurous attitude, which can potentially reap benefits against expectation-wracked Argentina, inconsistent Croatia, and World Cup debutants Iceland.

    Group E (Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Costa Rica) will most likely see Brazil advance with minimal problems. Serbia and Switzerland should dispose of Costa Rica, although the Central Americans are capable of pulling off upsets as evidenced by their exploits in the previous World Cup. I’m hoping the Serbs can secure at least second place but Balkan and eastern European sides often badly underperform in major tournaments, regardless of how talented their players may be. Serbia simply must beat Costa Rica in their opening match. If they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are eliminated at the end of the first round.

    Group F (Germany, Sweden, Mexico, South Korea) is more balanced than people may imagine but Germany must surely secure top spot. Sweden and Mexico will contest second place. South Korea are a dogged opponent who traditionally play an annoying, negative spoiling game characterised by very tight marking and a high work rate. During the qualifiers, however, the Koreans lost three games - all away - and appear to be weaker than at any point in the last two decades.

    Group H (Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan) is by far the most evenly-balanced combination of teams. Poland are certainly capable of beating all three opponents but they are just as capable - in fact, they are far more capable - of losing to any of the three in a high pressure match away from home.

    Pro-White fans mightn’t want to hear this, but Poland are an average to slightly below-average team that is completely reliant on a very small core of players, particularly Robert Lewandowski. If he is injured or out of form, Poland will struggle to score. Arkadiusz Milik has now sustained two serious injuries in the space of eleven months and only resumed training with Napoli about three weeks ago. I doubt he will ever return to optimum form. Jakub Blaszczykowski is also highly prone to injury. He hasn’t played in Wolfsburg’s last five Bundesliga matches and has only made seven league appearances this season. Lukasz Piszczek ruptured knee ligaments during the 4-2 win against Montenegro at the beginning of October and will be out of action until some time in January. Grzegorz Krychowiak made next to no appearances for Paris Saint-Germain last season and has now even managed to get himself dropped to the bench while on loan at less-than-glamorous West Brom (who, by now, must surely regret taking on his huge salary…). Piotr Zielinski spends too much time on the bench at Napoli, Kamil Grosicki is rotting away with Hull City just above the relegation zone in the Championship, while Wojciech Szczesny has made a measly six Serie A appearances for Juventus since his ill-advised move from Arsenal via Roma at the end of last season. Things aren’t looking good…

    For my sins, I’ve followed Polish football all my life and can tell you that it’s an almost unsalvageable mess - the rotten end product of decades of corruption, cronyism, shockingly indifferent amateurism, government neglect on every tier, a complete absence of accountability, a poisonously tribal fan culture built upon rabid club loyalty and virulent, quasi-religious hatred of traditional rivals rather than actual results, all of which is perpetuated by a remarkably compliant and irresponsible sports media. Genuine youth development hasn’t existed since the pre-Solidarity days of the 1970s.

    The recent so-called “successes” of the Polish national team aren’t the fruits of an organised national structure or even a network of loose, independent local substructures whose aim is to produce a constant stream of players who can compete at elite European club level.

    These mythical “successes” most definitely cannot be attributed to manager Adam Nawalka, who is nothing more than a dilettante. This close friend and ex-playing colleague of PZPN president Zbigniew Boniek just happens to have been appointed to the managerial position during an era in which a sufficient number of naturally talented individuals have emerged concurrently to enable the formation of a reasonably competitive national team for the first time since the early 1980s. Crucially, those naturally talented individuals moved to foreign clubs at early ages, which afforded them the opportunity to maximise their respective potentials. If Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski, Piszczek, Glik, Fabianski, Szczesny, Krychowiak, or Zielinski had stayed in Poland, not one of them would perform at anything approaching their current levels of ability.
     
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  7. Porthos

    Porthos Mentor

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    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017 at 3:25 PM
  8. Porthos

    Porthos Mentor

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    Regarding the groups, I agree with most of what Rebajlo wrote:
    - Group A - Uruguay and Russia clear favorites, suspicious draw...
    - Group B - Spain and Portugal obvious favourites
    - Group C - France favourite, other teams relatively levelled with Denmark maybe having a slight edge and Australia the slight underdog
    - Group D - Argentina favourite, other teams relatively even, with Croatia having a slight edge based on individual talent. Argentina definitely has a stellar attack with Dybala, Messi, Aguero, Di Maria... but their middlefield and defence don't look so stellar and their qualification path was not as smooth as one would expect. Croatia qualification was marred by ups and downs but it is suspicious how - after having lost to Iceland, drawed with Finland and lost to Turkey, they miraculously sprang up to life after the coach was replaced and suddenly started to play excellent football. There obviously was some conflict between the previous coach and the players.
    - Group E - Brazil big favorites, with other teams similar, maybe Switzerland slightly above, but I would not be surprised if Serbia comes up with a strong performance, it's an unpredictable team
    - Group F - Germany and Mexico favourites
    - Group G - Belgium and England clear favourites
    - Group H - Colombia and Poland favourites

    All-White teams to support (barring last moment surprises in the lineups):
    - Argentina
    - Australia
    - Croatia
    - Iceland
    - Poland
    - Serbia
    - Spain
    - Uruguay (Cavani?)


    A couple of comments on the qualifications and teams that did not qualify:
    - Italy failing to qualify - they are feeling the pinch of privileging cheap imports over homegrown talent. A politician (Fassino) even proposed to speed up the process of giving Italian citizenship to recent arrivals from Africa so Italy can take advantage of footballing talent from the Africans pouring in from Lybia, unbelievable what's goin on there...
    - The Netherlands after playing the final in 2010 and a good performance in 2014 is in free fall... When will they come back?
    - The US failing to qualify in the ultra-easy CONCACAF group is a major surprise, not sure about what's goin on here
    - Only 2 teams from the sub-saharan Africa qualified - Senegal and Nigeria (three other African teams are from arabic countries Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia). No Ghana, no Ivory Coast, no Cameroon, no South Africa etc. This proves once more how hyped the whole "African football full of talents" narrative is...
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017 at 4:24 PM
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  9. Freethinker

    Freethinker Master

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    Excellent summaries gentlemen.

    I’ve been having a hearty chuckle over only 2 negro countries from Africa qualifying. However, we should be fair and give them a third with France. France is by far the most dangerous as they have a world class White goalkeeper, the likes of which a fully negro team would never be able to produce.
     
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  10. Porthos

    Porthos Mentor

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    The French team could actually be surprisingly White. The skeleton of the team is White. Goalkeeper - Lloris, central defenders - Digne and Koscielny, playmaker - Rabiot, strikers - Griezman and/or Olivier Giroud. With this type of baseline, they are a strong team no matter how many blacks they put in the remaining positions.
     
  11. Matra2

    Matra2 Master

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    They were even more memorable at the 1978 World Cup. Forget three goals in six second-half minutes, what about losing 6-0 to Argentina in 1978 when the host nation just happened to need a very big win to advance. Absolutely nothing suspicious about that.

    Only thing I remember about Peru was their player Cubillas. Wasn't he the 'Peruvian Pele' or something? Of course, every country has their own Pele: Think Freddy Adu;)

    On some American TV programme they interviewed a Mexican journalist who said that in Mexico the big question was whether they would be able to draw with Brazil and beat Sweden and Korea by enough to win the group instead of merely coming in second place. Finishing in second was considered a worst case scenario to these obnoxious self-consciously macho Mexican blowhards. Despite their obvious loserdom Mexicans are so convinced that they are not pathetic drunk-driving animal-torturing Mestizos but heroic Spaniards or some other accomplished European nation that they just can't imagine losing to a minor football power like Sweden. Given that Sweden defeated Italy I think they should be more modest in their expectations.
     
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