Let’s pay some homage to Football Fever with a football related post. I’m going to track the progress of the Cup.
1. Interesting Trivia Fact: Of the 9 world cups played outside Europe, European teams have one just once. The only European win outside Europe was in 2010, the last world cup, when Spain won in South Africa. Just based on this one stat, one could conclude that there is a high chance that either Brazil or Argentina win this time.
2. Teams most favored by Pundits at the tournament start: Brazil, Argentina. The Pundits have not deviated from History
3. Teams looking best after the 1st round of matches: Italy, Germany, Netherlands
3a. In context of Uruguay’s defeat of England, Italy no longer looks so good. In fact Costa Rica suddenly starts looking real Good. But the fact is FIFA will never let a team like CR win the world cup even if it is the best team in the tournament. I’ve seen it again and again in earlier world cups. In the knockout rounds, FIFA referees generally try to ensure that a “big” team (or team which generates good FIFA money) wins or at least makes the finals. In that context they are not thrilled about Costa Rica or Australia or croatia winning the cup regardless of how good the team may be. Expect to see some biased refereeing in the knockouts if the match between a powerhouse and a minnow goes to the wire. Just an allegation I am making without proof.
4. Teams looking best after the 2nd round of matches: Costa Rica, Netherlands
Almost on cue, just as I expected, the Referee in the Costa Rica Italy match was biased. Costa Rica should have been awarded a penalty kick when one of their players was fouled by an italian Defender. But the referee did not award it. Football refereeing is still low tech and the ref misses a lot of things. In close calls, he generally favors the nation with a richer football tradition. Thus in any match between Burkina Faso and England, given a close call, the ref will tend to favor England. Had goal line technology not be available as in 2010, then CR would not even have got that one goal. It would have been 0-0. That is just how things are in the world. Nobody said Life or Football was fair. I have not included France yet since they have so far beaten only minnows comprehensively.
5. Teams looking the best going into the knockouts: Netherlands is the standout team of the tournament so far. Columbia and Belgium while winning all their matches seemed to have played minnows. Argentina though winning all their matches seems too reliant on Messi. Germany, while impressive against Portugal did not produce any more magic. France has played all minnows.
Now time for some predictions:
1. Brazil to Beat Chile (Counting on tradition and pedigree)
2. Columbia to beat Uruguay (Had Suarez been playing, this would be too close to call)
3. Netherlands to beat Mexico (But it will not be easy, Mexico are playing well)
4. Costa Rica to Beat Greece (Costa Rica have been solid so far, while Greece has been temperamental)
5. France Vs Nigeria: Too close to call (France have played all minnows, while Nigeria impressed against Argentina)
6. Germany to beat Algeria (Going by pedigree, rankings and tardition)
7. Argentina to Beat Switzerland (Counting on some more Messi Magic)
8. Belgium Vs USA: Too close to call (Belgium have been solid in defense, while USA has impressed with their attack)
6. Teams looking best going into quarters