Here's The Inswinger

For the majority of Americans, this Thursday doesn't mean much. But for the rest of the world, it means everything. June 8th marks the beginning of World Cup 2006. Soccer's greatest event, which takes place every four years, is being hosted by Germany. I get excited because I'm a soccer aficionado and this event displays the highest level of global competition.

While I'm passionate about the game, I realize that I will spend the month unable to talk about it to anyone, because no one I know cares. That being said, I'm still going to use this space to make my predictions on how the tournament will pan out.

First, it doesn't look good for the Red, White, and Blue. They have a difficult group which includes the Czech Republic [2nd best team in the world] and Italy. Since only two teams from each group can advance, this doesn't bode well for the US. If they could pull it off, it would be huge.

Second, I can't pick Brazil to win. That would be like picking the Dream Team to win the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal. So gimme some credit for stepping out here, and not picking the Brazilians.

Finally, it's tough to pick the second round match-ups because there's different seeding if you finish first or second in your group. It's not like the NCAA basketball bracket, so my round of sixteen match-ups could be off. But still, I try.

Group Winners: A- Germany, Ecuador B- England, Sweden C- Argentina, Netherlands D- Portugal, Mexico E- Czech Republic, Italy F- Brazil, Croatia G- France, South Korea H- Spain, Ukraine

Round of 16 Winners: Germany Argentina Czech Republic France England Netherlands Brazil Spain

Semifinalists: Argentina Czech Republic England Brazil

Final: England vs Argentina

Winner: England

Insert obligatory David Beckham picture here: