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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Alan Hansen's World Cup verdict

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

The early exchanges of the World Cup are over - and we have already seen a feast of terrific attacking football.

It has been as positive a start to a tournament as I can recall, lots of great goals and not too many shocks from the opening skirmishes.

And I think we are going to see a World Cup that will be graced by all the most powerful sides in the later stages.

This hasn't always been the case, with dark horses coming through the field, but I believe we will see the cream of the crop fighting it out at the end in Germany.

Patrick Vieira
It was sad to see Patrick Vieira looking little other than a shadow of the magnificent player who played for Arsenal

The amount of attacking football and positive intent has surprised me to a degree - maybe it is just the way the game is going, or maybe coaches have subconsciously decided to go for it.

Whatever the reason, it is making for excellent entertainment.

Argentina have won most of the plaudits so far, and they were certainly impressive with their movement, pace and skill, but they were also hanging on for grim death against the Ivory Coast at the end.

No wonder that group has won the traditional "Group of Death" tag, with Holland and Serbia & Montenegro in there as well. There will be some twists in that one before the top two are decided.

It may be Spain's year, although we have been saying that for a long time. Their victory against Ukraine was magnificent - their finishing and ability to retain possession was nothing less than superb.

It was breathtaking to watch the passing and movement for the fourth goal, scored by Fernando Torres. The most frightening thing for the opposition is that Spain can bring on the likes of Raul and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas off the bench.

The big disappointment for me so far has got to be France, who I don't honestly see winning the tournament on the evidence of their tame draw against Switzerland.

And it was sad to see Patrick Vieira looking little other than a shadow of the magnificent player who played for Arsenal for so long.

Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram did their best to spark things, but they are not the players they were when France won the trophy in 1998.

This is not a criticism of two great players, simply an acknowledgment of the passing of time.

Germany have some good players going forward, but I don't see them winning it either.

WORLD CUP BLOG
Five Live commentator Nigel Adderley on Brazil
I have to say when I study the squads of the European teams involved here, I would take England's every time.

England will improve as the tournament goes on, and the same can be said for Brazil.

Brazil are always judged by special levels of excellence, and when they drop below that then questions are asked.

They did not deliver a classic against Croatia, but they still won.

Croatia gave them a tough game, but like England against Paraguay, they came through with a win and that is all that matters at this early stage.

I have to say that I felt Ronaldo was an absolute disgrace against Croatia and it will be interesting to see if coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is willing to drop him.

He must have seen him in training and in the warm-up games, and he is now as large as he has ever been. Parreira certainly has plenty of firepower at his disposal, so we should keep an eye on that situation.

These are decisions for the days ahead, but for now it is terrific to be enjoying such a positive tournament, with teams intent on attack.

Let's hope for more of the same as the World Cup unfolds.



SEARCH FOR MORE:
Alan Hansen columns

SEE ALSO
Terry Butcher's view on England
14 Jun 06 |  England


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