Who Will Don theGolden Boot?
Expect one ofthese snipers to be the Cup's top scorer
**MILAN BAROS, F,CZECH REPUBLIC (right) The best finisher on one of the tournament's bestattacking sides, Aston Villa's striker scored five times in four Euro 2004matches.
**RONALDO, F,BRAZIL Barring a shocking upset, the reigning champs are in for a long Cup run;the reigning Golden Boot winner (eight goals in 2002) will have plenty ofchances to find the net.
June 4, 2006
**THIERRY HENRY,F, FRANCE He has a rep for not producing in big games--in '02 he had an 0-fer,and Les Bleus didn't get out of the group stage --but his 27 Premiership goalsfor Arsenal this season can't be ignored.
**LUCA TONI , F,ITALY The late-blooming 29-year-old bagged 31 goals for Fiorentina this seasonto become the first Serie A player in 47 years to score 30 or more.
**PAULETA, F,PORTUGAL One of his team's few bright spots in '02, he scored three of its sixgoals. Plus he goes by only one name, so he must be dangerous.
NO LOVE LOSTMATCH-UPS
**AUSTRALIA VS.CROATIA (FIRST ROUND, JUNE 22) Three members of the Croatian team grew up inAustralia but deserted their mates to play for a more successful side. (TheSocceroos still have seven players of Croatian descent, including captain MarkViduka, right.)
**NETHERLANDS VS.GERMANY (POTENTIAL QUARTERFINAL) Relations aren't as bad as they were in '88,when the Dutch celebrated a semifinal Euro win by chanting, "In 1940 theycame, in 1988 we came." Or in '92, when German fans bombed a Dutch disco.Still, when they played a friendly last year, many German grocers painted theiroranges black.
POISED TO BREAKOUT
**GORANGAVRANCIC, D, SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO Dubbed the Famous Four after conceding justone goal in 10 qualifiers, the team's back line will get plenty ofattention--especially this 27-year-old fullback, who loves to push forward (20goals in 107 matches for Dynamo Kiev).
**LIONEL MESSI,F, ARGENTINA A torn right thigh muscle kept him out of Barcelona's lineup inthe Champions League final, but that just gives billions of viewers somethingto look forward to in Germany.
**MABROUK ZAID,GK, SAUDI ARABIA After having two clean sheets against potent South Korea inqualifying, the athletic 27-year-old could be dominant against a mediocre GroupH.
**LUKAS PODOLSKI,F, GERMANY It's easy to see why Bayern Munich is after the 21-year-old, who hasscored 12 times in 23 games for the national team. With a creative midfieldbehind him, he should see plenty of chances.
SI senior writerGrant Wahl predicts that a perennial power will not make it out of the firstround (Argentina), an unsung squad will sneak into the quarterfinals(Australia) and the team that has won a record five Cups will retain its title(no name needed)
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
FIRST ROUND*JUNE 9 TO JUNE 23 After round-robin play, the top two teams fromeach group advance
|4||COSTA RICA||TRINIDAD & TOBAGO||SERBIA & MONTENEGRO||ANGOLA||GHANA||JAPAN||TOGO||SAUDI ARABIA|
SECOND ROUND **JUNE 24 TO JUNE 27
IVORY COAST ELIMINATES
QUARTERFINALS *JUNE 30 AND JULY 1
Fair-weather home fans rejoice after archrivals are ousted.
Aussies grind it out, but can't wear down Zinedine Zidane.
A goal by Michael Owen fires England into first semis since 1990.
On a shot from Ronaldo, final-worthy match tilts in Brazil's favor.
SEMIFINALS * JULY4 AND JULY 5
After struggling during qualifying, Les Bleus gain momentum after the firstround, while the home side buckles.
On a roll, the Magnificent Mononyms reprise their '02 quarterfinal knockout ofEngland with a 2--1 victory.
CHAMPIONSHIP *JULY 9
Rematch of 1998 final goes the other way when Roberto Carlos (above) andBrazil's D shut down Thierry Henry (below).
MOST LIKELY SEERED (CARDS)
**GABRIEL HEINZE,D, ARGENTINA Before hurting his knee, the left back (above left) had picked upfour yellows and a red during his last five qualifying matches.
**WAYNE ROONEY,F, ENGLAND TV cameras caught the petulant 20-year-old cursing more than 100times in one game last year. If the ref speaks English--or has seen an episodeof Deadwood--expect a booking.
**PATRICK VIEIRA,M, FRANCE Just do the math: bone-crushing tackler + hot temper = card waitingto happen.
STRIKE UP THEI-PODS
WHAT'S A WorldCup without singing? Log on and check out these unofficial anthems.
**WHO DO YOUTHINK YOU ARE KIDDING, J√ºRGEN KLINSMANN? BY THE TONEDEF ALL-STARS, in which theEnglish taunt the German coach(www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2004580002-2006170061,00.html).
**SOCA WARRIORSBY THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO SOCA BOYS, (www.myspace.com/tntsocaboys), a peppynumber that boasts, "We'll have a Soca Warrior bacchanal!"
**Viva Ukrayino!BY TNMK, a takeoff on Queen's We Will Rock You--in Ukrainian (www.tnmk.com/sounds/TNMK - Viva Ukraino.mp3).
**IRAN IRAN BYARASH & DJ ALIGATOR, which backs a video(www.bezanberim.com/mediazone/showphoto.php?photo=134) of the Iranian teamplaying on a beach.