Spartan Soccer World Cup Face-Off: Part Two

San Jose, Calif. - San Jose State University men’s and women’s soccer coaches Gary St. Clair and Dave Siracusa continue to provide their thoughts on the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, as the tournament heads into the semifinal round this week.

Over the weekend, Siracusa guessed the correct winner in three of the four quarterfinal matches, including each of the first two games on Friday, June 30. Siracusa was accurate on his predictions of Germany over Argentina, Italy over Ukraine, and France’s upset over defending champion Brazil. St. Clair was right in predicting Portugal to knock off England while going one-for-four. The two coaches had picked each of the four quarterfinal contests differently.

With St. Clair and Siracusa once again picking a different winner in each semifinal, the former has an opportunity to even things up in the head-to-head match- up. Be sure to check back following the semifinal round to see which one got it right, and find out what their feelings are about Sunday’s title game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Germany vs. Italy, Tuesday, July 4, 12:00 p.m. PDT
Gary St. Clair’s Pick: Italy

“This is more of a ‘heart’ choice for me, rather than a ‘head’ choice. I don’t want to see the Germans in another World Cup final. I don’t think they are a very good German side. They are athletic and efficient, but I would like to see Italy, who has more creative and better players from top to bottom, move on.

“Beating Germany on German soil is always, always a difficult task. They are classic overachievers. It’s not a great German team, when compared to past ones, but they are at home, and have the added incentive of losing 4-1 to Italy in a friendly in Italy back in March. The German press was all over them for that result. While I think that Germany will probably win, I’ll take Italy.”

Dave Siracusa’s Pick: Germany
“I’m picking Germany for many of the same reasons why I took them in the last round. Namely, Germany is the host country. They are playing great. They are skilled and strong. I thought the Argentina game (in the quarterfinals) went according to plan. Argentina looked like they were the better team, but Germany just wore them down. As the bigger and stronger team, they beat them up.

“Having said that, I’m not as sure about this game. Their chances are more equal. Germany had a 4-1 loss to Italy in a friendly match before the tournament, but that doesn’t mean anything. This is a whole new ballgame. The one x-factor that I can think of is that Italy can actually score against Germany. Still, I’m picking the Germans.”

Portugal vs. France, Wednesday, July 5, 12:00 p.m. PDT
Gary St. Clair’s Pick: Portugal

“This game excites me. Most people did not have either team coming this far. Lots of people probably had Germany against Italy in the other semifinal, but not many thought Portugal and France would make it. This will be an interesting game because both teams have completely changed their style of play in the last couple of years. They have gone from being attacking teams to defensive sides, and that is probably the reason why they have gotten this far. Both teams are playing in 4-5-1 (one forward) formations, rather than with two forwards, so that’s maybe not as exciting, but both have been winning.

“I’m taking Portugal because (head coach) Luiz Felipe Scolari is a better preparer of players. France is coming off the high of beating Brazil. Deco, who is a world-class player, will be back for Portugal (after sitting out the quarterfinal due to a red-card suspension). I think it will end1-0 in favor of Portugal.”

Dave Siracusa’s Pick: France
“France looked great (against Brazil on Saturday). They looked young, spirited, skilled, and way better than Brazil. Brazil on the other hand, looked like they were waiting for the magic to happen, and it never did. Individually, (France midfielders) Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieira were great. (Midfielder) Franck Ribery provided energy, life and courage. Even (goalkeeper) Fabien Barthez looked alright, even though he is usually an adventure. I kept waiting for France to fall apart, but they played really well.

“I think that France will beat Portugal. These should be two really hard-fought semifinal games. Portugal is good, but the French are really good, too. Portugal is coming off a very rough (quarterfinal) versus England. They play with the confidence that (head coach) Luiz Felipe Scolari provides. Ultimately, I think that France is riding high, and Portugal will be tired.”