The Australian National Team is really very European. Like most competitive countries, they have a large contingent of players making a living in Europe. They were a joke in the world of international soccer until they imported European football by hiring a Dutch manager, Guus Hiddink. In 2006, he led the team into the second round, where they were knocked out by eventual champions, Italy. Phoenix, like the Australian team, has a European feel, probably due to the fact that they're a French band. Their sound has an electronic and indie air to it. We like their music and we like the Australian team, and, while we re more than content to listen to a few of their songs, we'd be hard pressed to label them as the next best thing. Australia has a few strong players in Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer. They play with a lot of heart, and despite still having a Dutch manager, we'll be very surprised if they get to the second round. Like Phoenix, they aren't the next big thing.
Big questions marks are still lingering over this team because they don't have a great striker. Miroslav Klose has been relegated to the bench at Bayern Munich with Mario Gomez. Lucas Podolski scored two goals this year. They have to hope that Bastien Schweinsteiger makes up the difference from midfield along with 13 year old German captain, Philip Lahm. The lead up to this World Cup is reminiscent of lead up to Coldplay's release of Viva la Vida. Fans were excited for the new album but no one was really sure what to expect. Would they go for a harder sound? Would they regain their form from years past? The result was an album that was universally respected. We expect a similar result for Germany in the World Cup.
Ghana's best player, Michael Essien, is out of the World Cup. We'd use U2 due to Bono's injured back, but that's way too much of a compliment for Ghana. So, Poison, with Michael Essien playing the part of Bret Michaels, it is. Ghana is a good but not great footballing country. They have talent and have won the African Cup of Nations four times, the latest back in the 80s. Not much has happened with them lately though. We expect them to park the bus, but their chances of advancing out this group are about as good as Poison's chances of winning a Grammy next year. Slim to none.
Serbia: Jack White
When the White Stripes broke up, Jack White took most of the creative talent with him, just like Serbia took most of the footballing talent when Yugoslavia broke apart. Like Jack White, Serbia is legit. They're line up includes players from Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan, and a host of German sides. They have a hard edge to them due to the presence of Nemanja Vidic and Branislav Ivanovic. Jack White's reputation proceeds him and when he finds the right combination of people around him, his work is brilliant. It remains to be seen whether or not Serbia has found the right mix. They were on the losing end of a 6-1 drubbing from Argentina back in 2006 but they also have a long history of getting to the second round. They have matured as a team since the last World Cup and we expect them to advance to the knock out stages.