Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup Update

Every team has played at least one game, so let's check in on how the World Cup is going.  Remember that there are eight groups with four teams in each group.  Each team plays every other team in the group once, and the two teams with the best records advance to the knockout rounds.  You get three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss.

Group A (Brazil, Mexico, Cameroon, Croatia):  Brazil and Mexico are the only two teams in the tournament that have played two of their three group games.  They played a 0-0 draw today, and they each have 4 points with records of 1-0-1.  Brazil's last game is against Cameroon, so they should win that game and top the group.  Mexico will probably get at least a draw in their last game (against Croatia) to advance to the next round.

Group B (Netherlands, Chile, Australia, Spain):  The big story here is that Spain -- the defending champions of the World and Europe -- were hammered 5-1 by the Dutch in their opening game.  Now Spain faces a must-win game against Chile, which cruised to a 3-1 win over Australia.  Assuming that Spain beats Chile, it should join Netherlands in the next round.

Group C (Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece):  None of these teams is very good, with the possible exception of Colombia, which hammered Greece 3-0.  The Colombians should top the group.  Ivory Coast has already beaten Japan 2-1, and should be able to get the result they will need against Greece to finish in second.

Group D (Costa Rica, Italy, England, Uruguay):  This is the first group in history to feature three former World Cup winners.  Costa Rica was supposed to be the odd team out, but they stunned Uruguay 3-1, while Italy beat England 2-1.  So Italy should top the group, and it will be a wild scramble among the other three teams to see who comes second.  If I had to guess, I would pick England to make it through.

Group E (France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras):  Like Group C, a pretty weak group.  France drubbed Honduras 3-0, while Switzerland came from behind to beat Ecuador 2-1.  France should top the group, and Switzerland should take second.

Group F (Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, Bosnia):  This group is basically a bye for Argentina, which beat Bosnia 2-1 and shouldn't have too much trouble topping the group.  Iran and Nigeria tied 1-1, and I have no idea who will come second here.

Group G (Germany, United States, Ghana, Portugal):  Germany crushed Portugal 4-0, while the U.S. stunned Ghana 2-1.  So Germany will come in first, and the Portugal/U.S game on Sunday should decide who comes in second.  If the U.S. manages to get past Portugal to take second place in the group, Jurgen Klinsmann should get credit for the best coaching job in world soccer.

Group H (Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria):  Another odd group with no traditional powers.  Belgium is heavily favored, and their 2-1 win over Algeria has them on the way to first place.  Russia and South Korea tied 1-1, and I have no idea which of them will take second.

Here are the latest odds from Britain on who will win the tournament:

Brazil:  7 to 2
Argentina:  7 to 2
Germany:  4 to 1
Netherlands:  9 to 1
Spain:  12 to 1
France:  16 to 1
Italy:  18 to 1
Belgium:  18 to 1

No one else is better than 25 to 1.  England is 33 to 1.  Mexico is 80 to 1.  The USA is 200 to 1.


  1. Australia 2 - 3 Netherlands

    That's it for Australia; while the Dutch now have six points.

  2. Halftime:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    Spain are in huge, huge, trouble here. If they can't turn this around, they will be out of the World Cup. That would be a staggering upset for a country that was won three international tournaments in a row.

  3. The best soccer you'll ever see is when a team is trying to avoid being eliminated. So the second half should be pretty entertaining.

  4. 65 minutes:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    So far, Spain hasn't been able to present much of a threat.

  5. 70 minutes:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    I'm calling it now; Spain are going out. They can barely get the ball.

  6. 80 minutes:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    Chilean players are now throwing themselves to the ground and wasting time at every opportunity, but no one really minds all that much because Spain looks like they could play for five hours without scoring.

  7. 90 minutes:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    They've given Spain 6 minutes of injury time, which is ridiculous. But they could give them 60 minutes and it wouldn't make much of a difference.

  8. Full time:

    Spain 0 - 2 Chile

    Spain never looked like they were interested in being in this tournament, and now they aren't any more.

    Chile and the Netherlands are through to the next round, but we won't know who finishes top of the group until they play each other.

    1. In the wire report they carried in the Madisonville Messenger this morning, some Spanish fan was quoted as saying that the World Cup was all that his country had to celebrate of late--and that now "we have neither bread nor the circus," or something about like that.

    2. In the wire report that they carried in the Madisonville Messenger this morning, a Spanish fan was quoted as saying the World Cup was all the country had to celebrate of late--and that now "we have neither bread nor the circus," or something about like that.

    3. That's a brilliant and very applicable quote. But they do have a new king.

  9. Now that Spain is out, the latest odds to win the World Cup look like this:

    Brazil: 3 to 1
    Germany: 7 to 2
    Argentina: 7 to 2
    Netherlands: 8 to 1
    France: 14 to 1
    Italy: 16 to 1

  10. Croatia is blowing out Cameroon; they are up 4-0 in the 81st minute. So the standings in Group A look like this:

    1. Brazil: 4 points (goal differential of 2)
    2. Mexico: 4 points (goal differential of 1)
    3. Croatia: 3 points
    4. Cameroon: 0 points

    Brazil's last game is against Cameroon, so they should top the group. Mexico and Croatia play each other, and the winner of that game will finish in second place. If they draw, Mexico will take second.

  11. Here are the standings in Group B after two rounds of games:

    1. Netherlands: 6 points (goal differential of 5)
    2. Chile: 6 points (goal differential of 4)
    3. Australia: 0 points (goal differential of minus 3)
    4. Spain: 0 points (goal differential of minus 6)

  12. Colombia has beaten Ivory Coast 2-1 to seize control of Group C.

  13. Every so often, the English decide to go into battle with an English coach. This is always a disaster, because English coaches are terrible. The fundamental problem is that English coaches like to attack, and England doesn't have players who are good at attacking. So when they try to attack, they just give up a bunch of silly goals at the back.

    Anyway, for the second time in two World Cup games, England came out and fell behind 1-0. Then they tied it up at 1-1. And then their horrific defense gave up an easy goal, and they lost the game 2-1. So Uruguay gets three points, and England are, for all intents and purposes, out of the World Cup.

  14. So imagine an England fan who's my age. He could remember every World Cup back to 1974. Here's what he's seen:

    1974: England fail to qualify
    1978: England fail to qualify
    1982: England win their group and move to a second group stage. They are part of a 3-team group with West Germany and Spain. Both of England's matches end in scoreless draws West Germany beats Spain 2-1 to top the group and move into the semi-finals. England are eliminated without losing a game.
    1986: England reach the quarterfinals, only to be eliminated by Argentina 2-1 in a game where Argentina scored on a handball.
    1990: England reach the semi-finals, only to be eliminated by West Germany on penalty kicks.
    1994: England fail to qualify
    1998: England reach the last 16, only to be eliminated by Argentina on penalty kicks.
    2002: England reach the quarterfinals, only to be eliminated by eventual champion Brazil 2-1
    2006: England reach the quarterfinals, only to be eliminated by Portugal on penalty kicks
    2010: England reach the last 16, where they are humiliated by Germany 4-1
    2014: England are eliminated in the group stages

    Now that is a depressing bit of history, and if you're an Englishman my age, you now have to seriously wonder if you'll live to see England get back to the semi-finals -- much less win the whole thing.

  15. Both of the Uruguay goals were scored by Luis Suarez, who plays for Liverpool.

  16. Japan and Greece play a dreadful 0-0 draw. So the Group C standings after two rounds of games now look like this:

    1. Colombia: 6 points
    2. Ivory Coast: 3 points
    3. Japan: 1 point (goal differential of minus 1)
    4. Greece: 1 point (goal differential of minus 3)

    So Colombia joins Netherlands and Chile as the first three teams to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds.

  17. Costa Rica stuns Italy, beating them 1-0. That means Costa Rica has clenched a sport in the knockout rounds, while England has been eliminated. Italy and Uruguay will battle for the last spot from Group D. Here are the Group D standings after two rounds of games:

    1. Costa Rica: 6 points
    2. Italy: 3 points (goal differential of 0)
    3. Uruguay: 3 points (goal differential of -1)
    4. England: 0 points

    Costa Rica is the biggest pleasant surprise of the tournament so far. England joins Spain as the two biggest disappointments.

  18. So far, the Latin American teams are doing very well. Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica have already clinched sports in the knockout rounds, and Mexico is very close to doing so.

  19. In Group E, France pounded Switzerland 5-2(!), while Ecuador beat Honduras 2-1. So that group now looks like this:

    1. France: 6 points
    2. Ecuador: 3 points (goal differential of 0)
    3. Switzerland: 3 points (goal differential of minus 2)
    4. Honduras: 0 points

    France will probably finish top of the group, while Switzerland will probably win its last game against Honduras and take second.

  20. In Group F, Lionel Messi -- who may be the greatest player in the world -- scored a spectacular, looping goal in injury time to send Argentina past a game Iranian team by the score of 1-0. That clinches a spot for Argentina in the knockout rounds. The huge pro-Argentina crowd was suitably appreciative.

  21. Germany and Ghana play a 2-2 thriller. Remarkably, the United States can now clinch a spot in the next round with a win tomorrow.

  22. In Group F, Nigeria beats Bosnia 1-0, which means that the Bosnians will not be going to the next round. As mentioned above, Argentina has already clinched a spot in the next round. Here are the latest standings:

    Argentina: 6 points
    Nigeria: 4 points
    Iran: 1 point
    Bosnia: 0 points

  23. Here are the teams that have clinched a spot in the knockout rounds so far:

    Netherlands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Argentina.

    Spain and England are the two biggest teams to be eliminated so far.

  24. Here are the latest odds from Britain on who will win the whole thing:

    Brazil: 10 to 3
    Germany: 7 to 2
    Argentina: 7 to 2
    France: 9 to 1
    Netherlands: 9 to 1

    No one else is better than 20 to 1. Mexico is 66 to 1. The United States is 200 to 1.

  25. Here are the odds for the U.S./Portugal match tomorrow:

    Portugal victory: 8 to 11
    Draw: 3 to 1
    U.S. victory: 9 to 2

    So we are pretty heavy underdogs.

  26. So what's the deal with the 1982 World Cup?

    1. Back then they had two group stages. It was very confusing, which is why they don't do it any more.

    2. They were talking about this World Cup in the aftermath of the United States-Portugal draw yesterday. Apparently, two teams who would both advance with a draw conspired, and so it set in motion some structural changes that make it more difficult to engage in this type of chicanery. This came up at the suggestion that the United States and Germany might rig Thursday's match to draw (and both advance).

    3. I'm pretty sure that this was the group stage that featured Austria and West Germany. The games were such that if Austria lost to West Germany 1-0, both of those countries would go through. But other results would allow Algeria to go through. Significantly, Austria lost to West Germany 1-0.

      You will notice that in the last round of group play, all four teams in a group play at the same time. I'm pretty sure that's the change that was made after the Austria/West Germany match.

    4. Very good--yes, this jibes with what I heard them saying after last night's match. Thanks!