Obviously this is a difficult grouping for the US to advance from, and we all know about Italy, how good the Czechs are right now, and that Ghana are African champions. What I want to hear are the positives...let's analyze what gives us a chance to beat these teams and potentially win this group. For all the trollers, I'm not saying that we will or will not win it, but let's be honest about one thing. The top European teams were hoping to avoid us just as much as we were hoping to avoid them. You think Italy and the Czechs wouldn't have rather played Saudi Arabia, Japan or Trinidad & Tobago? So let's do it...those who have followed these teams closer than the rest of us, tell us the weaknesses! CZECH REPUBLIC This team is getting old friends. They played strong, attractive soccer in Euro 2004, but let's not forget that this team will be two full years older, and they were old then. Nedved is great, but he came out of retirement to help these guys qualify against Norway....what will he bring in 06? Koller, their top goal scorer in qualifying, is hurt with a serious knee injury last I heard. If he is back in time to play, what makes you think he'll be back in top form? ITALY Last I checked, they haven't performed THAT well in recent years at the World Cup and that's why they only beat us out for the final seed by a 44-43 margin. In 2002 they lost to Croatia 2-1 and tied Mexico, finishing 2nd in that group. Then they got dumped by South Korea in the round of 16. They scored 5 and gave up 5 in four games and finished with a 1-2-1 record. Not impressive. In 1998 they were better, not losing a match until France took them down on penalties. But they didn't play too tough of competition either; Chile, Austria, Cameroon and Norway. Finally, in 1994, they lost in the finals on penalties, but if the tournament were set up the way it is today, they wouldn't have gotten past the group stage! They finished 3rd, 1-1-1. The Italians have always defended well, but they've often given away valuable points in the group stage. There is no reason to think we won't have a chance to steal a point from them (or three.) GHANA I honestly know nothing about this team other than that are considered the Brazil of Africa. Somehow it's their first appearance here, so maybe we'll have a tactical advantage over them. I've read they are fast and physical, and obviously Essien can play, but does anyone know anything about these guys that is more concrete?