It’s occurred to me that “B” comes BEFORE “C” and that I should have previewed Argentina’s group before the United States’, but in the words of John Locke- DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO. Previews of the rest of group C are forthcoming, save for the United States, which will get its own SUPER PREVIEW later on.
I’m not gonna lie, I know NOTHING about Slovenia as a country. In my head, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bosnia and Hungary are all essentially the same place and are filled with anti-Semitic fake-Russians with shaved heads. Ignorant? Absolutely! Wildly inaccurate? YOU BET! In “reality”, Slovenia is the smallest country competing in the World Cup, with a population just over 2 million, or roughly the size of Pittsburgh and its suburbs. So COME ON USA, IF WE CAN’T BEAT PITTSBURGH I DON’T WANT TO LIVE. However, what Slovenia lacks in size they make up for in tenacity and heart (like me!) . They shocked Russia in a playoff to qualify for South Africa, and showed that they have the capacity to play David and slay Goliath, at least providing that Goliath is a morally-ambiguous, Communist giant (which he was).
Nickname: None. (MYSTERIOUS!)
Best Player: Robert Koren, Midfielder, West Bromwich
Outlook: Slovenia’s style of play is not much on the eyes. They play very defensively- they surrendered just four goals in 10 qualifying matches- and deliberately. They do, however, have a few playmakers on offense who will give the United States’ problems if given the opportunity. Koren and Valter Birsa are dynamic midfielders who can control the pace of play and 6’3″ striker Milivoje Novakovic conjures up memories of Czech Jens Koller, whose size and experience torched the U.S. in their opening game in the last cup. Goals will be hard to come by, as the Slovenes excel at locking all windows and doors defensively. Goalie Samir Handanovic plays in Italy’s top division and provides a very strong last line of defense.
Most Famous Citizen: Los Angeles Lakers backup point guard Sasha Vujacic! He averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game this year! There’s even speculation that he once talked to Kobe Bryant, who mistakenly believed Vujacic was delivering his room service.
Prediction: Slovenia may end up conceding the fewest goals in the group, but still fail to advance past the group stage. The United States plays them in the all-important 2nd game and must find a way to come away with three points. I believe (and pray), that we’ll do just that, and that Slovenia will finish third in Group C.