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Post details: Quiet before the Storm

Quiet before the Storm

In less than 24 hours, the country in which I spent the first 29 years of my life will play against the country where I spent the remaining 15. Both USA and the Czech Republic have high expectations going into this game. The US Team is keen on validating their improving international reputation, while for the Czech side this is a chance to showcase an exceptional generation of players - after 16 long years of the World Cup drought and for the first time as an independent country (as part of Czechoslovakia, Czechs actually made two World Cup finals: in 1934 and 1962).

But in soccer there is no point making predictions. Anything can happen in the course of 90 minutes. Just look at what happened yesterday to Sweden. Playing against the small island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, they could not find a gap in the World Cup debutantes' devoted defense. So by the time the Scandinavians were finished brooding over their lost chances, every Trinidad and Trinimom had been out in the streets dancing.

Both American and Czech camps are training quietly before roaring onto the world stage. The only question mark in the Czech starting line-up is the fitness of the striker Milan Baros. According to the Czech coach Karel Bruckner, the EURO 2004 best scorer will most likely miss the first game due to a foot injury. Karel Bruckner, however, is a sly fox when it comes to tactics as the following anecdote shows: one of his teams was once executing a free kick - two players seemingly misunderstood each other and collided - but while the opponents were chuckling, a third player kicked the ball and scored. So with Karel Bruckner, one never knows.

Finally, for practicing deja-vu aficionados, here is an interesting piece of trivia. When the Czechs were in the World Cup the last time, they played in a group with USA, Italy and Austria. Homework: what is the probability that 16 years later they would end up with USA, Italy and Ghana?

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