Who said I had to go in order?
I like to keep my Dutch reading skills somewhat sharp so from time to time I head over to the Dutch Google News site to practice. This morning, there was a story about a ban on leeuwenhose ("lion pants"), a promotion by Bavaria, a Dutch beer company. These had been banned from earlier Dutch national matches so as not to offend title sponsor Heineken, but the ban was lifted for the upcoming friendlies, today (against Mexico, a 2-1 victory for the oranje), and on June 4th. The best line was found in the last paragraph:
Fans zoals de 18-jarige Martijn Willeboer stonden dan ook letterlijk in hun onderbroek te supporteren voor Robben en co. De KNVB wordt gesponsord door concurrent Heineken en daarom wil de Voetbalbond geen reclame voor Bavaria in het stadion.
For some who had not come prepared, they were forced to sit through the match in their underwear.
Now, without further ado, the preview.
Rankings: 9th (FIFA), 8th (ELO), 7th (Ziaian), 8th (AQB)
Key player: Juan Roman Riquelme
Rankings: 3rd (FIFA), 2nd (ELO), 3rd (Ziaian), 6th (AQB)
Key player: Ruud van Nistelrooy
Serbia and Montenegro:
Rankings: 44th (FIFA), 26th (ELO), 18th (Ziaian), 25th (AQB)
Key player: Dejan Stankovic
Rankings: 33rd (FIFA), 30th (ELO), 32nd (Ziaian), 18th (AQB)
Key player: Didier Drogba
A lot of people have called this group the "group of death" or at the very least, one of the toughest groups in the tournament. And my team (Netherlands) will have to work hard to advance. But at the same time, this is a two-tiered group, with Netherlands and Argentina occupying the upper and Serbia and Cote d'Ivoire the lower. Either of these teams will likely need to beat one of the more powerful sides, and I don't expect that to happen. Argentina is always (well, usually) strong, and Holland will wait until the stakes are higher before choking.
My order of finish goes:
3. Serbia and Montenegro
4. Cote d'Ivoire