By Michael Davies
Special to Page 2

Editor's Note: Michael Davies is blogging the 2006 World Cup for Page 2. Each day throughout the monthlong tournament, he will file reports from Germany (and back home in New York). Check back for more updates.

Room 433, somewhere north of Schwabing, Munich, 11:50 p.m., June 19
Today I am for: A day off

And against: Nothing

But I couldn't resist updating my:

Davies World Cup Diary Completely Biased Power Rankings of the 32 World Cup teams after they've each played two matches (finally):

(1) Argentina: What is higher than No. 1? Ladbrokes have them at 4-1 but I wouldn't bet against them if they continue to play like this.

(2) Brazil (up 2): Still a little flat against Australia. But at this World Cup, two wins, whomever they're against, gets you a ranking. And also if you're the best football team in the world.

(3) Spain (up 1): Most impressive European team in first game, almost whiff big time in second against lowly Tunisia. But on form, they are the best European team in the tournament. Yikes.

(4) Ecuador (up 1): Those two wins are impressive. No one wants to play them now. England might have to. Three of the top four teams in my rankings are from South America -- Europe needs to step it up before they start believing they can win on European soil.

(5) Germany (up 1): They're just gut. Playing at home they're sehr gut. And their uncanny ability to score last-minute goals makes them annoyingly gut. I've forgotten about their defensive lapses against the Costa Ricans.

(6) Holland (up 1): They scored two great goals against the Elfenbeinkuste then kind of lost the plot. I am not convinced. But they're moving up because of results elsewhere.

(7) England (up 1): However, one good performance and they could be top four. On merit. Rooney is back. Look out world.

(8) Portugal (up 2): Inconsistent against Iran. So much potential throughout the squad, but rather like England, not firing anywhere near on all cylinders while grinding out wins.

(9) Italy: I've moved them below Portugal after reflecting on how badly they played against the U.S.

(10) Switzerland (up 6): Four points from two games. A point against South Korea and they're through.

(11) Czech Republic: So another theory could be that the U.S. played their worst game in recent history against them last Monday and made them look way better than they really are.

(12) The Elfenbeiners: Out of the tournament but one of its strongest teams. A brutal group.

(13) France: Count them out at your peril; 0-0 against a talented Switzerland team might not have been thrilling but it was a good result for both teams.

(14) The U.S.A. (down 12): Still basking in the glory of their point against Italy. But it was one point. They need three more for that epic performance not to be forgotten. But one word of caution before Ghana -- the U.S. are yet to score a real goal. Bring on Eddie Johnson.

(15) Sweden (down 1): Still not fluid but they got the win. That will give them huge confidence. Who knows? Don't tell my Swedish family but I think they could stand a chance against Germany in the next round. But please let England beat them; I have to go to Sweden on Friday.

(16) Ghana (down 1): So maybe they do have goal scorers. A win against the U.S. on Thursday, or maybe even a point, takes them through to the next round.

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(17) Mexico: Their performance against Angola was total Pantalones. They now need a result against Portugal to be sure of qualifying.

(18) Ukraine (up 10): As I said, this is a great team who are my wild cards to go far. Yes, it was Saudi Arabia, but as we've learned, it's not easy to beat anyone in this World Cup.

(19) Australia: Maybe they are as good as they think they are. Played wonderful football against Brazil -- teams have played worse in this World Cup and got a result. But that was Brazil. Not a fluid Brazil, but it was still Brazil.

(20) South Korea: Four points from two games. I guess I have to move them up. But I don't rate them.

(21) Croatia (down 3): They are way too talented a team to be ranked this low, but an unconverted penalty and lack of creativity in front of goal gained them only a point against Japan. They must beat Australia on Thursday to qualify for the next round.

(22) Paraguay (down 1): They're going home after two narrow losses. Tough, but I still think they deserve this ranking. Or maybe I don't. They could still move up without even playing.

(23) T and T (down 1): I never would have expected a team from the Caribbean to play such physical defense. T and T are still in this group if they can beat Paraguay and England beat Sweden. But they need to score goals.

(24) Angola (down 1): If they beat Iran by two, they could make the next round.

(25) Poland (down 1): Seconds away from stealing a result against Germany -- but they were dominated all match, created few chances and now they're going home. Which I'm kind of happy about, because I'm kind of scared of their fans, and if they'd beaten Germany, England might have had to play the home nation in the next round.

(26) Japan (down 1): Another disappointing performance against Croatia. The World Cup is over for them unless they can beat Brazil and other results go their way. Those six last minutes against Australia cost them dearly.

(27) Tunisia (down 1): I care so little about this team, they have a point and I'm still moving them down.

(28) Serbia-Montenegro (down 1): The worst beating any World Cup team has taken since Saudi Arabia lost to Germany 8-0 in Japan four years ago.

(29) Costa Rica: Just not that good. And looked worse against Ecuador. But they've got a guy up front in Paolo Wanchope who can score goals.

(30) Saudi Arabia: Just boring and crap. They should be lower.

(31) Togo: Bye-bye, Togo. Do not pass Go. Do not collect a $200,000 per-player fee.

(32) Iran: Played better. But one OK loss and one bad one still equals two losses. Buh-bye.

Michael Davies is a British-born television producer whose forthcoming projects for ESPN include the World Series of Darts and the documentary film "Once In A Lifetime" about the New York Cosmos, which will air on ESPN in October after being released theatrically by Miramax in July.




Michael
Davies
WORLD CUP DIARY