The end of the World Cup will have seen fans discussing what went wrong (or right!) for their teams, including those ever controversial refereeing decisions. This letter from W. Pickford of the Hampshire Football Association explains that he has found an early reference to the offside rule in the Sheffield Football Association Rules of 1867 although he suspects that the term is earlier still. It turns out that even the origins of the offside rule are up for debate!
I read about FDR's relations with Hoover and Wilkie thanks to you, but what where his views on Landon and Dewey?
Alf Landon is either completely forgotten or used as a punchline because FDR destroyed him by an ungodly margin in the 1936 election, but Landon, who was Governor of Kansas, was a highly-respected leader by politicians on both sides of the aisle. FDR liked him and even offered Landon a spot in his Cabinet later in his Presidency. Landon liked FDR, too, supported him on numerous issues (including a lot of the New Deal) and really wasn’t that distant from Roosevelt ideologically. Unfortunately for Landon, he faced FDR in 1936 when Roosevelt was really at the top of his game, as popular as he would be during his 12-year-long Presidency, and also as healthy as he would be during his Presidency.
All of that turned FDR into a steamroller and poor Governor Landon just happened to be the opposition. It must not have eaten at Landon too much because he lived until 1987. That’s right — the second person to run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t pass away until 1987 when he was 100 years old.
The campaign between FDR and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 was significantly different because it took place in the midst of World War II and because FDR was obviously dying. In 1944, FDR didn’t quite have the energy that he used to have on the campaign trail. Dewey, on the other hand, was only 42 years old and had all of the energy in the world. Instead of hammering Roosevelt’s policies, Dewey took a ton of shots at FDR’s fitness for continuing as President when his health was failing and his physical appearance was deteriorating frighteningly. Roosevelt didn’t know Dewey as well as he had known Hoover (a former friend), Landon (whom FDR respected and liked personally), or Willkie, who ended up being close to Roosevelt and serve as a special envoy to war-torn Europe. FDR’s campaign focused on what Roosevelt had accomplished and how close the Allies were to bringing World War II to an end. Roosevelt really didn’t run against Dewey in 1944, he ran (as much as FDR could run — get it? because he was crippled — too soon?) on his own record and on the always-effective argument that you don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream, particularly when that stream is the deadliest and most horrific war in the history of the world.
Incidentally, the best quote about Thomas E. Dewey during the 1944 campaign came from a Roosevelt, but not from Franklin. FDR’s cousin and Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, the acid-tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth — described Dewey as the little groom figurine on the top of a wedding cake because his mustache made him look like that was exactly where he belonged.
Of course, the worries that Governor Dewey expressed throughout the 1944 campaign about FDR’s fitness to remain in the White House and the President’s failing health were completely accurate. Five months after Roosevelt defeated Dewey, FDR was dead. Dewey was nominated once again by the GOP four years later, in 1948, against FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman. And as even casual readers of history know, some newspaper editors jumped the gun with the morning edition that was being published for the day after Election Day because Dewey did not defeat Truman.
As I always suspected about Delaware, it's not real
From my workplace’s internal newsletter:
Each state on the map display is represented by a book set in that state. Most of the states are represented by books for adults but also included are some notable books for young adults and children to make the map more inviting for everyone. Branch staff reported that while it was easy to select books set in states like California, Florida and New York, it was a bit more challenging to find the literature of Idaho, Delaware and Rhode Island. The display features several books available for checkout that represent each state. In addition to the map, there are custom made bookmarks in each book showing the state flag, capitol, fun facts and books set in the state. Amazing undertaking! Nice work!
That is because the only writers in Delaware are people drafting corporate charters.
It’s July 13. Back on June 13, we got excited about the World Cup starting. Brazil gave up an own goal early to Croatia, but bounced back, thanks to a dubious penalty call, to win 3-1. And that may have been the highlight of the tournament for the hosts.
After that, there was a scoreless tie against Mexico, an easy win over Cameroon, the worst team in the tournament, a win on penalties against Chile, a brutal win over Colombia, followed by horrific losses to Germany and the Netherlands. The Brazilians hadn’t lost two straight matches at home since 1940, when they lost the last game of the Roca Cup to Argentina 5-1 and then lost a Copa Rio Branco match to Uruguay 4-3.
But enough about Brazil. On to the teams playing for the championship.
There haven’t been two sets of countries that have played each other more than once in a World Cup final: Brazil and Italy squared off in 1970 and 1994. And Argentina and Germany did it in 1986 and 1990. So today is the third matchup, provided you don’t think West Germany is not the same as today’s Germany. (If you do, you’re wrong. The country didn’t change names. It was the Federal Republic of Germany in 1986 and 1990 and it still is today.)
Both countries have female heads of government. German chancellor Angela Merkel is supposed to come to the game. Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is not planning to attend, although she did meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Kirchner says she has a very sore throat and she also wants to celebrate her grandson’s first birthday. But, she will be in Brasilia next week for a conference. Go figure.
Kirchner has had a rough few years. Her husband, who also had been President of Argentina, died in 2010. In 2011, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Then, doctors checked again and said she didn’t. She was reelected in 2013, but later that year doctors found bleeding in her brain from a head injury and she had to rest up. Now, her Vice-President is charged with corruption. Along with a lot of other people in Argentina. And the economy there might go into recession.
So, the end result is that Germany is likely going to win Sunday no matter what happens on the field. Because Argentina is going to need a loan. So they better be nice to Angela Merkel.
As for the action on the field, Germany looks unbeatable. Which hasn’t meant much in this tournament. Appearances have been deceptive. Argentina’s defense is too well organized to give up seven goals. The only team to score more than one in a game this tournament against Argentina was Nigeria, who managed to get to two.
The Germans probably have a good plan in place to neutralize Lionel Messi. They seem so well prepared and have been playing better as a unit than any other team. Brazil was hoping to beat Germany in the semis on emotion. Germany used talent and tactics. The latter won.
Argentina leads the all time series with 9 wins. Germany has 6 wins. There have been 5 ties.
I am predicting a 2-0 German win, preventing Brazilian fans from the humiliation of watching their noisy neighbors raise the World Cup in front of them.
The world’s biggest sporting event still has one of the more depressing events contested: a third place match.
As a kid, I remember the NCAA basketball tournament having a third place game. It was usually played early in the day before the championship game. This happened from 1946 to 1981. Until 1975, there were consolation games in the NCAA regionals. The reason for these was that the competing schools wanted as much revenue as they could get for making a trip out to some distant locale. But once the TV money got big enough.
The NFL had a third place game called The Playoff Bowl in the 1960s. The last one was played on January 3, 1970. The Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys, 31-0. The Detroit Lions won this game three times. The St. Louis Cardinals won it once.
The World Cup though clings to the third place game. The only time there wasn’t one was in 1930 (when the tournament was beginning and nobody thought about setting one up. If it had existed it would have matched the USA versus Yugoslavia) and in 1950, when the final round was set up as a round robin.
The Dutch are pissed off about playing this game. The Brazilians are not, even though they were humiliated in their semifinal loss. There should be a lot of reserves on the field. It’s time for everyone to get a certificate for participation.
Just hope that this match doesn’t end tied after 90 minutes. Because they’ll play extra time. And go to penalties if necessary.
The Golden Boot, given to the top goal scorer in the tournament, is still at stake. James Rodriguez of Colombia leads with six. It’s doubtful anyone in this match will make a run at it. The leading Dutch scorer is Arjen Robben with three and I have a feeling he won’t play. The leading Brazilian scorers who could play Saturday are Oscar and David Luiz who have two goals each.
The Dutch and Brazilians have beaten each other three times with five draws. They last played each other in a friendly in Goiania in 2011 and that was a scoreless draw. The Netherlands beat Brazil in the 2010 quarterfinals in Port Elizabeth by a 2-1 score. Brazil beat the Netherlands in World Cup matches in 1994 (but only on penalties) and 1998. The Dutch won in a World Cup match in 1974.
Brazil is 2-1 in third place matches. They beat Sweden 4-2 in 1938 and Italy 2-1 in 1978. They lost to Poland in 1974 by a 1-0 score. The Netherlands have played for third place once, in 1998, and they lost to Croatia 2-1.
(This was supposed to post in the morning, but I hit the wrong thing. This makes up for the one that I posted after a match was over.)
So we all saw that 7-1 win by Germany coming didn’t we? I know I did. (Tries to go back and change prediction.) Likely no one except diehard German supporters thought they would see that. And they probably thought that Germany would win 3-0.
Today, Germany’s opponent in the Sunday final will be determined. Also, Brazil’s opponent in the Saturday consolation game will be determined. And I love me some consolation game action.
The Dutch have been dominant in this series, winning four of the eight matchups. The Argentines have won only one. Unfortunately for the Dutch, that was a 3-1 win in extra time in the 1978 Final in Buenos Aires.
In the past, I’ve actively rooted against Argentina. Even though Maradona was unbelievable in his prime, he was the most annoying superstar in soccer’s history. And soccer has had a lot of annoying superstars.
Argentina now has the supposed successor to Maradona in Lionel Messi. Messi has a lot less baggage than Maradona and is easily the most popular active soccer player. (If you like Cristiano Ronaldo more than Messi, what is the matter with you?)
Argentina is the only team left in the World Cup that has no losses or ties on its record. Argentina hasn’t needed much scoring to win its first two knockout round matches, beating Switzerland and Belgium by 1-0 scores each time.
The Dutch needed two late goals (including a dubious penalty) to beat Mexico 2-1 and then played 120 scoreless minutes against the offside trap masters of Costa Rica before winning on penalties 4-3.
The big story in the Costa Rica match was Dutch manager Louis van Gaal removing his starting goalie, Jasper Cillessen, right before time ran out and replacing him with Tim Krul. It is hard to tell whether this move was some brilliant tactical maneuver by van Gaal or simple mind games. But, it worked.
I can’t believe that van Gaal thought Krul was better. I’ve seen Krul play a lot with Newcastle. He’s not that great.
I don’t think you’ll be seeing such shenanigans again from the Dutch. They could pick a designated penalty stopper against Costa Rica because they had a fairly good idea that the Ticos were going to play for penalties. (Playing for penalties does not seem to sit well with the American cognoscenti. Not manly enough I guess.) The Dutch could hold back their final sub for the goalie.
Against Argentina, the Dutch are going to be facing an opponent who is going to go toe to toe with them. The Dutch will likely need all three subs for outfield players.
I really don’t think this match will be a rout. I don’t see either team falling apart after conceding a goal like Brazil did. The Dutch have come from behind in three of their wins (Spain, Australia, and Mexico). Argentina has never trailed in its first five matches.
Argentina will be without Angel de Maria because of injury. Robin van Persie is questionable for the Dutch because of a stomach ailment.
Although I own an orange Dutch jersey, I would like to see Argentina win just to see how Messi would fare against Germany. The Germans will likely be huge favorites in the final. But, this World Cup has taught us that we really don’t know anything even when the great teams win.
It’s time for the final four. But unlike the Final Four (TM), the two semifinals of the World Cup on different days in different cities. And Jim Nantz isn’t there. Which is nice. And the players are getting paid.
Two teams with eight combined World Cups are meeting in the World Cup for just the second time ever. Their only previous meeting was in the 2002 Final in Yokohama, which Brazil won 2-0, on a pair of goals by Ronaldo.
In the all-time series, Brazil has won 12 times, Germany 4 times, and there have been 5 draws. Their last meeting was in 2011 friendly in Stuttgart, which Germany won 3-2. (You can watch the goals here.) They haven’t met in Brazil since when Brazil won 3-1 in Porto Alegre.
Germany’s Miroslav Klose comes into the match with a total of 15 World Cup goals in his career. If he gets one today, he surpasses for Ronaldo for the most in tournament history.
The biggest story of this match though will be about someone who isn’t there: Neymar. Brazil’s top scorer is out with a back injury. Brazil will also be without captain Tiago Silva, but he is just out because of a suspension for two yellows and he can play in the final or consolation match.
Brazil has not been the Brazil that people expect. They are not a team dashing up and down the field pouring goals in. This team grinds out goals (except for Neymar, and he’s not playing, see above). Brazil was whistled for 31 fouls in its quarterfinal win over Colombia. For comparison purposes, Germany committed 15 fouls against France in its quarterfinal.
The Germans scored a lot early, scoring six in its first two matches, but since then, the goals have dried up. Germany won 1-0 in its final group match against the USA. They needed 120 minutes to finally get two goals against Algeria in the round of 16. The Germans scored early against France and held on for a 1-0 win.
The goalkeepers are an interesting contrast. Brazil’s Julio Cesar plays for FC Toronto, after his English club team, Queens Park Rangers, stopped playing him. It’s possible that QPR may take him back after the World Cup, especially after his performance in the penalty shootout win against Chile. Or maybe not. QPR is a weird team. Also, Brazil’s defense has only required Julio Cesar to make six saves in five matches.
Germany’s keeper is Manuel Neuer, who starts for one of the best teams in the world, Bayern Munich. Neuer loves to come off his line and wander out of the penalty area to function as a sweeper. He is among the best in the world. He’s only had to make 17 saves in the whole tournament
(Unsurprisingly, Tim Howard has made the most total saves in the tournament, with 27 in four matches.)
The Germans are slight betting favorites. But, Brazil has one of the most formidable home field advantages in the world. Their last loss at home in a competitive match (not a friendly) was in 1975. 1975! They lost to Peru, 3-1, in the first leg of a Copa America semifinal in Belo Horizonte. Brazil won the second leg 2-0 to finish 3-3 on aggregate. Peru advanced to the final by drawing lots.
It’s not unprecedented for a host country to lose in the semifinals. The Germans lost to Italy in the 2006 semifinals in Dortmund. South Korea lost to Germany in the 2002 semis in Seoul. Italy lost to Argentina at home in the 1990 semis.
Germany looks to have enough to win this match. Except I don’t think they will. I think Brazil will find a way through to the final. I wish I could explain why. The margins at this point are so narrow, that it won’t take much to catch a break and get a winning goal.
This time, I think I have the right time on the post. It’s the last quarterfinals. And yesterday, the royalty of soccer was served as Germany and Brazil advanced to the semifinals, although Brazil lost Neymar for the rest of the tournament with an injury.
Today’s matches are “countries where people (at least some of them) speak Dutch against countries where people speak Spanish)
These two countries have faced each other just four times and Argentina has won three times, losing only in the 1982 World Cup opener in Barcelona, 1-0.. Their first meeting was in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Argentina won that 6-3. They last played in the 1986 World Cup semifinals in Mexico City and Argentina won 2-0. So these two countries tend to play just when it’s important. (They played one friendly in Brussels in 1984 which Argentina won 2-0.)
Like just about all the teams expected to be great in this World Cup, these teams have won, but have never overwhelmed anybody. But, if you’ve watched their matches, you’ve never really thought they were going to lose. (Unless you are a member of the Steve Wondolowski Marching and Chowder Society.)
Argentina is considered by many to still be Leonel Messi and ten other guys. But, that’s quite unfair to that roster, which is loaded. The oddsmakers have Argentina as a slight favorite.
Since most people here have now watched Belgium (for two full hours), you know that they are incredibly good. The Belgians are technically skilled and loaded with speed. They should be able to run with Argentina.
Do they have a defense that can contain Messi? The Belgian goalie, Thibaut Courtois, was just as good as Tim Howard on Tuesday, but he didn’t have to work as hard. But he’s awesome. And very big.
The Belgians strength is their youth, but others will think that it’s a weakness. Will the younger Belgian players fall apart if they fall behind early? Probably not, as they came from behind in their first two matches. Belgium has scored all of its goals late.
I would hope that this is the best match of the quarterfinals. But I only know that I know very little.
This is the first ever matchup between the two nations. Which is not too surprising. Costa Rica is the last Cinderella team left in the World Cup and nearly everyone expect that there will be a lot of pumpkins on the pitch at the end of this match. Costa Rica is around +600 to win. The Dutch are around -190 to win.
Costa Rica does not have the talent to go directly at Netherlands and must hope that they can sit back and pray for a counterattack chance. The Dutch have actually been giving those up as they are not an overwhelmingly disciplined side.
The Dutch do have a lot of talent. They may have annoying talent, like Arjen Robben, but that’s still way more than Costa Rica. The Dutch should win this easily.
They probably won’t. So far (not knowing the Argentina-Belgium result) no match from the Round of 16 on has been decided by more than two goals.
I would love to see Costa Rica win. I really don’t think that will happen. But I have a jersey for both countries. So I’m covered.
Today’s winners play on Tuesday in a semifinal at Sao Paulo.
World Cup Preview, Day 20 (Did I have the gift of prophecy)
(The timer to post this was wrong. But I will run it anyway. I didn’t edit it except to tell you that it was at the wrong time.)
What a better way to celebrate Independence Day than to watch a pair of soccer matches from Brazil featuring four countries that are not the USA, although one of them does wear red, white, and blue. But, that team’s fans don’t like us. So go figure.
These teams have played each other 25 times dating back to 1931. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t play each other from 1937 through 1952. France has won 11 times, Germany 8 times, and there have been 6 draws. Germany has three World Cup wins and the French have one.
The weight of history on this matchup is great. But, in this day, the French are likely to be more upset about the events of 1982 rather than World Wars I and II. (Or hipsters who are still mad about the Franco-Prussian War.)
Germany needed extra time to beat Algeria in its second round match 2-1. France scored twice late against Nigeria for a 2-0 win. The oddsmakers have Germany as a slight favorite, mostly because of its pedigree.
The Germans, if they are healthy, have the depth to adapt to any other style. They can keep throwing scoring threat after scoring threat on to the field. (Well, they have to stop after three subs.) France, with the exception of a scoreless draw against Ecuador, haven’t had much trouble to deal with in this tournament.
There will be trouble for the French on Friday morning. The Germans are not going to make the defensive mistakes that Nigeria made. The French will have to go out and take the initiative.
I would expect the Brazilian crowd to be pulling for the French because: 1) the Germans aren’t overly popular and 2) the Brazilians would probably rather not have to play Germany in the semifinals (if they make it.)
I think Germany will have enough to win this one. But no one will be happy about it.
This should be the match of the day. The host country, the tournament favorite, will have their hands full with the tournament’s darlings. the relative upstarts from Colombia.
Brazil has slogged its way through to the quarterfinals, but has yet to really catch fire. The Brazilian attack has looked slow and somewhat ponderous. Aside from Neymar, the Brazilians have been struggling to find any attacking creativity. The Brazilians had to survive a penalty tiebreaker against Chile.
Colombia, which wasn’t expected to do much without Radamel Falcao, has looked dazzling, winning all three of its group games and then beating a semifinalist from 2010, Uruguay, in the second round. The big man for Colombia has been James Rodriguez. Or as his jersey says “James.” (And again, pronounce it with an H.)
Brazil and Colombia have played each other 25 times. Colombia has won … twice. Neither of those wins were in Brazil either. Colombia beat Brazil in Vina del Mar, Chile in 1991 (2-0) and in Bogota in 1985 (1-0). Brazil has 18 wins. The last four matches between the two teams have been draws, three of them scoreless. They last played in November 2012 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, a 1-1 tie.
It was almost exactly 20 years ago when Colombian defender Andres Escobar was murdered back home in Medellin, after Colombia was eliminated from the 1994 World Cup. Escobar gave up an own goal in a 2-1 loss to the United States, but the actual reason for his murder is likely more complicated and probably even more stupid.
Colombia today has shed much of its image as a home to drug cartels and pointless murders and kidnappings, although they still happen. But, it’s not quite as bad. And perhaps people associate Colombia with Shakira or Sofia Vergara now instead of Pablo Escobar more.
Brazil is favored by the oddsmakers, but I will be pulling for Los Cafeteros. History is not on Colombia’s side in this match. But I can dream.
Today’s winners play each other in a semifinal in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
In the summer of 1982, I watched the World Cup live for the first time. As I was in between my junior and senior years of high school, I had a lot of time on my hands during the day to watch matches.
The only way to watch them for free was to watch in Spanish on Channel 34. This turned out to be a great way to build my Spanish skills. I watched a lot of matches.
By the time the tournament got to the semifinals, I was only home to see one of them: Germany (aka West Germany at the time) against France. (I couldn’t see Italy’s win over Poland and this was in a day when recording TV programs was something only the six richest princes of Europe did.)
The Germans had weaseled their way into the second round, which was a three-team round robin. The Germans tied England and beat host Spain and got a semifinal berth against the French. France had advanced with wins over Austria and Northern Ireland. (Northern Ireland had a 17-year old phenom named Norman Whiteside, but little else. Austria was forgettable.)
The two teams met in Sevilla on July 8. A crowd listed at 70,000 attended. (The official report says exactly 70,000. I would say that was an estimate.)
France had a great team led by Michel Platini, who is now the head of the European Football Federation, UEFA. They also had a guy with the very cool name of Didier Six.
The Germans best player was Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, but he was nursing an injury and didn’t start. But the Germans still had a lot of talent. And in goal, they had the very 1980’s looking, Harald (Toni) Schumacher.
The Germans scored first from Pierre Littbarski. France got a penalty in the 26th minute and Platini converted it. It was 1-1 at halftime.
France brought on Patrick Battiston in the 50th minute to replace the much more aurally pleasing Patrick Genghini. (The latter sounded really cool in Spanish.)
In the 60th minute, a long ball bounced into the German half. Battiston chased after it. Scumacher came out to try to snare it as well. Except, Schumacher pretty much just slammed his arm into Battiston’s face. Battiston fell to the ground unconscious, with a broken jaw and a neck injury. The ball bounded harmlessly past both of them wide of the net.
The referee, who was Dutch, signaled “goal kick.” The French were both livid and terrified. One of their teammates was badly injured. Schumacher’s actions could have easily earned him a red card.
But there was nothing. Another sub came in to replace Battiston. The rules at the time allowed just two subs so the French had no hope of reinforcements if the game went to extra time.
It went to extra time.
But, the French scored early in extra time. Marius Tresor scored in the 92nd minute. Allez les blues! Six minutes later Alain Giresse scored another. It was 3-1 France. Rummenigge, who come on in the 97th minute made it 3-2, with a goal in the 102nd minute.Once the time ticked up to the 105th minute, I figured the match was over. Because I had never seen a soccer match go this long.
But the teams switched side and the game continued. In the 108th minute, Klaus Fischer scored on a beautifully executed overhead kick to tie it up at 3-3.
The match went to penalties. I wasn’t sure how many there were would be. I guessed five. I was right!
The French went first. They made it. The Germans made theirs. Both teams made their second. 2-2.
Then, Uli Stielke then had his penalty saved by Jean-Luc Ettori. Schumacher picked up the weeping German player and tossed him aside. He had business to attend to. Or possibly someone to kill. Or both.
Schumacher evened things in the fourth round, when he stopped Didier Six. Schumacher saved the ball and carried it off with like he had picked up a trophy on a hunt. He didn’t get it mounted. It was 3-3 after four rounds.
Platini buried home the fifth one. Rummenigge did the same for Germany. It was 4-4 after five rounds. Now it was … sudden death.
Maxime Bossis took the sixth kick for France. Saved! Bossis crouched down, looking befuddled. Schumacher strode off with a clenched fist in the air.
Horst Hrubesch scored the next one. Germany had moved on to the final.
And I thought to myself, “Wow, that was nerve wracking and thrilling and emotionally draining. And I barely understood what was going on. I need more!”
I really enjoy watching the World Cup. I enjoy watching club soccer too, especially my beloved Everton. I’m not a huge MLS fan, but I appreciate it and I know that the teams in Portland and Seattle have huge fan bases.
But even with the stupid Ann Coulter columns, there are other, presumably well-meaning and less polemic writers who want to dissect or belittle the fact that I just happen to like a sport that they don’t.
This LA Weekly blog post by Dennis Romero was pretty bad. Christine Brennan was less so, but still thinks it was more patriotism than people liking soccer. There are even more columns this I could link to. I unfriended people on Facebook who relentlessly filled my timeline with anti-soccer screeds.
The main theory is that the USA will never embrace a sport its never won in. Which seems idiotic to me. There are hundreds of countries that have never won a World Cup. It’s not easy to win it! All of the countries that have won, with the exception of Uruguay, have all been fairly large countries with strong football traditions. It’s tough to get into that group.
But some other very large countries don’t do well in soccer either. China has only played in one World Cup final. India turned down its only invitation in 1950. Russia has a pretty unimpressive record in soccer.
Sports aren’t supposed to be your nation’s character. They’re just sports. And I don’t even know what America’s character is to begin with.
Just leave me alone on Friday to watch the quarterfinals! If you think the NFL Draft Combine is more exciting than the World Cup, good for you. We’ll still get along. Just leave me alone.
The final eight will be set after these two matches. Today we have a pair of Old World vs New World matchups. Only one former champion in this pair of games, so we might get some relatively new blood in the quarterfinals.
Argentina didn’t lose any of its group matches, although they needed a very late goal to beat Iran in its second match. Leonel Messi has four goals for Argentina, after being goalless in South Africa in 2010.
The Swiss beat Ecuador on a late goal, then were soundly beaten by the French, before beating Honduras to get second place. The Swiss do not have much of a World Cup pedigree. They have not played in the quarterfinals since 1954, when they were hosts. The last time the Swiss made it out of group was in 2006, when they lost on penalties to Ukraine 3-0 after a scoreless tie.
Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986 and lost in the championship in 1930 and 1990. Argentina is unique in that they’ve never lost a semifinal match. They are pretty much all or nothing in the World Cup.
Switzerland has an interesting mixture of names: Benaglio, Seferovic, Xhaka, Shakiri, Fernandes. The team’s best players are Albanian immigrants, who aren’t really beloved by most of the Swiss.
Argentina, which is a fairly cosmopolitan country, has mostly Spanish and Italian names on its roster.
Argentina has played Switzerland six times and won four times with the two other matches being draws. One of those matches was in the 1966 World Cup. Argentina won that one 2-0 in Sheffield.
In theory, Argentina shouldn’t have trouble with Switzerland. But the first six games in this round have all been tight. But, there is only one Messi and he’s wearing blue and white. That will send Argentina through.
Oh, this game. It’s a big deal. This is a classic case of where my heart roots for the USA, but if I were betting money, I would put it on the guys in red who speak several different languages.
The USA hasn’t beaten Belgium since 1930, when they shut out the Red Devils 3-0 in Montevideo in the first World Cup. Roll ahead 65 years and Belgium won the rematch in Brussels, 1-0. And the Belgians have kept beating the Americans, winning in 1998, 2011, and last year, 4-2, in Cleveland.
Belgium hasn’t lost in this tournament, although they haven’t looked great. The USA has looked, well, like something. I’m not sure what.
I would advise just enjoy the ride no matter what happens. It should be fun, regardless of the outcome.
The winners today play again on Saturday in Brasilia at 9 am. That side of the bracket also contains the Netherlands and Costa Rica.
Today is a pair of matches between Europe and Africa. However, neither African country is playing against its former colonial overlord. So, you don’t have that dynamic. In both cases, the European team is a solid favorite.
The French used to control a big chunk of Africa, but Nigeria wasn’t part of it. (The English did that.) Nigeria now has the 7th largest population in the world, with almost 100 million more inhabitants than France.
But, France has a big edge in the GDP department ($2.6 trillion to $262 billion). This would help more if instead of playing extra time or going to penalties, tied matches would be decided on GDP size. (USA! USA! USA! USA!).
The French didn’t lose any of their group matches, routing both Honduras and Switzerland by an 8-2 margin. They played a scoreless tie with Ecuador, which was enough to give them first place in the group.
Nigeria looked uninspired in its opening match, a scoreless draw with Iran. They eked out a win over Bosnia-Herzegovina to put them in a good position to advance even if they lost their final match. And they did lose that, 3-2, to Argentina.
The Nigerians, like Cameroon before the tournament, and Ghana during the tournament, have had disputes over receiving bonus payments. France had problems last year, but it wasn’t about money, just that they hated each other.
This year, the French seem to be get along well. And they are favored to win this match and move on to the quarterfinals. Nigeria has been improving, but France has improved more.
These teams have met once before. Nigeria won a friendly in France in 2009 by a 1-0 score.
Did you know Germany used to have quite a few colonies in Africa? They lost them after World War I and France and England gobbled up most of them. If Germany had played Cameroon, they would have been facing a former colony. (The area was Kamerun under German control, then Cameroun under French control, and now it’s Cameroon.)
Algerian fans are still smarting at Germany (and Austria) for conspiring to keep them out of the second round of play at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Algeria beat Germany 2-1 in group play, but lost out in the group after Germany scored a narrow 1-0 win over Austria. Instead of rehashing the whole story, you can read this. Expect the announcers to talk about that match a lot. In 1982, the second round was not knockout, but rather another series of round robins until there were four teams left standing.
Interestingly, Germany has never beaten Algeria. They’ve lost both meeting, but they were both a long time ago. Germany lost in Algiers on New Year’s Day in 1964 as well as in Gijon in 1982. I have a feeling that Germany wasn’t going out of its way to try to schedule Algeria for any friendlies since 1982.
But there’s no avoiding them now. Germany is not going to take Algeria lightly in this circumstance. I expect Germany to go for a workmanlike 2-0 win. As demonstrated in its match against the USA, Germany can maintain possession and also cut off counterattacks. The Germans don’t make many mistakes.
Algeria lost to Belgium 2-1, but led for much of the match. Then they won 4-2 over Korea and clinched second in the group with a 1-1 tie against Russia. Germany bookended wins over Portugal (4-0) and the USA (1-0) against a tie with Ghana (2-2).
The winners of today’s matches will face each on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. And if that happens, more talk about the 1982 World Cup! Graphic violence warning…
Yesterday was South America Day in the second round. But today features a pair of North America vs Europe matches. Normally, that would mean that you could bank two European wins. But, is a change happening in the world soccer order?
We probably won’t know after these games, but they should have a much different dynamic than the two battles on Saturday between very familiar rivals.
The Dutch, who were expected to be in something of a rebuilding mode, have turned out to be one of the tournament’s most impressive teams, beating all three of their group opponents, including a stunning 5-1 rout of defending champion Spain that made people realize that this World Cup was not going to go to form.
Netherlands had a little more trouble with Australia, winning 3-2 after trailing 2-1 in the second half, and then getting two late second half goals to beat Chile, 2-0. And Chile showed themselves to be no slouches on Saturday, taking Brazil into penalties before getting eliminated.
The Dutch have brought in some good complementary young players to help out veterans Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie. This article by Simon Kuper explains how the Netherlands have decided that winning is better than just looking good.
Mexico made it out of group play, like they always do. The Mexicans scored just one goal in the first two matches, which featured a scoreless tie against Brazil. They broke through with three goals against Croatia, including one by lovable Rafa Marquez. And by lovable, I mean History’s Greatest Monster, v 2.1.
It’s unlikely that Mexico will get more than 40% possession time against the Netherlands. They might adopt a strategy of going for a scoreless tie and winning on penalties and hoping that goalie Memo Ochoa bails them out. That’s a risky strategy.
These two teams have met six times in five different countries. Sunday marks the sixth different country Mexico has faced the Netherlands. (Aside from their home countries, they have played each other in the USA, France, and Germany.) They played each other in the 1998 World Cup in a group match in St. Etienne. The Dutch led 2-0 at halftime, but gave up goals in the 75th and 94th minutes to end up with a draw.
This is one second round matchup that hardly anyone expected. Costa Rica was not expected to get out of group play based on its pedigree. Some thought Greece would make it through because they are a tough, defensive European side, but they looked awful in their first match, a 3-0 loss to Colombia.
Costa Rica qualified for the second round after winning its first two matches, beating Uruguay and Italy, before taking it easy in a scoreless draw with England. Greece went into its final match against Cote d’Ivoire needing a win to move on while the Ivorians needed only a draw.
Greece hadn’t scored until Georgios Samaras took advantage of a turnover from the Ivorians to score a first half goal. After Cote d’Ivoire equalized, it looked like they were going through. But, right before the final whistle, Greece “earned” a penalty (a very dubious call) and Samaras converted it for a win.
So, the Cinderella matchup of the second round will see one of soccer’s have nots move into the quarterfinals. I have no idea who will win this one. Costa Rica is a slight favorite with oddsmakers. Costa Rica has more playmakers, but Greece has a way of neutralizing them.
Costa Rica has been told to watch for any gifts of wooden horses or rabbits. The Ticos are the sentimental favorites and the Greeks don’t have many fans outside of its home country. This is the first ever matchup between Greece and Costa Rica.
The winners of today’s matches will meet in Salvador on July 5 at 1 pm.
These two teams haven’t met in a Round of 16 in the World Cup since all the way back in 2010. Brazil won that match 3-0. But, today’s match should be a little closer. At least I hope so.
Oddsmakers have Brazil around -190 to win. Chile is around +500 to win. You can bet on a draw for around +350. (Even though every match has a winner, sports books pay for a draw, if it’s tied after 90 minutes. Extra time doesn’t count. And if a match is decided by a penalty tiebreaker, it is actually considered a draw in soccer terms with the winner advancing on penalties.)
Brazil and Chile have met 68 times. Chile was won 7 times. The Chileans haven’t Brazil since August 15, 2000. The last time Chile beat Brazil in Brazil was in 1993 in a Copa America match.
So history may not be on Chile’s side. However, Chile has shown some quality in group play, beating Australia 3-1 and shutting down Spain 2-0. They lost their last match to the Netherlands 2-0, but both teams had already qualified for the second round.
Brazil hasn’t looked they like they have come together completely as a team. But, they have such great individual talent, like a certain guy named Neymar, that they don’t need to be a perfectly operating machine to win.
The biggest story about this game is about someone who won’t be playing: History’s Greatest Monster, aka Luis Suarez. Suarez was suspended for nine international matches and four months overall for taking a peck at an Italian player’s shoulder. This is not what people in polite society do. Also not playing is Colombia’s best player, Radamel Falcao, but he is out with a much more mundane problem, an injury, which has sidelined him for much of the season.
Can Uruguay win a big match without Suarez? They certainly aren’t going to surrender. (Uruguay and Colombia have never fought a war against each other. Geography could probably tell you why. Brazil and Chile have never fought each other either. Because Argentina exists.)
Colombia is a slight favorite to win this, around -100. The Colombians (or Cafeteros if you want to use their nickname) went a perfect 3-0 in group play. They are a fun team to watch, especially Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez (the latter pronounces his first name with an H sound at the beginning).
These two teams have played each other 38 times. Uruguay leads with 19 wins, Colombia has 11 wins, and there have been 9 ties. During qualifying, each team beat the other at home. Colombia beat Uruguay 4-0 in Barranquilla and Uruguay beat Colombia 2-0 in Montevideo. They haven’t faced each other in Brazil since 1949 when they drew 2-2 in Sao Paulo.
Today’s winners will play each other in the quarterfinals on July 4 in Fortaleza at 1 pm.
You won’t have to wait long for the suspense of this to be over. For those of us on the West Coast, this is a pretty early start. If you’re a fan of European football, this is actually a fairly late start as a lot of matches from England start around 7 am. Sometimes, I get up for matches at 4 am. I usually don’t like that. But I do it, because I feel I have to.
Anyway, I hope you’re awake at 9 am to see either of these two matches.
The majority of people will be glued to their TVs, computer monitors, smartphones, or following Twitter (not a very satisfactory way of following a match as your sole source of info) to find out what’s happening.
Nobody in Group G has clinched a spot in the round of 16 or been eliminated. The two teams that advance will either be Germany and the U.S. or one of the combos of USA/Germany and Ghana/Portugal. There is no scenario where the USA and Germany both won’t make it in.
You probably know what the USA needs to do to advance. They have three surefire ways of advancing, two of which they can do something about: 1) winning or 2) tying. The USA (and Germany) will also advance if Ghana and Portugal tie.
If there is a loser in Recife (and most people think that the only team likely to lose there is the USA, which is +700 to win), then a winner in the Ghana/Portugal match can sneak into the second spot with a win that would make up the goal difference. Germany is at +4, USA is at +1, Ghana is at -1, and Portugal is at -4. If the USA and Ghana end up with the same number of points and goals for and goals against, the USA wins the tiebreaker because of head-to-head record. If the USA and Portugal end up with the same number of points (4) and goals scored and goals against, then there would be a random draw.
The last time the USA played a World Cup match in Recife, they lost to Chile 5-2. But that was 64 years ago and likely has little or no predictive power. The Manaus effect will be talked about since no team that has played in Manaus has won another game. So don’t bet your mortgage on Switzerland beating Argentina on July 1 because they played in Manaus on Wednesday. (Actually, Argentina should mop the floor with Switzerland on general principles.)
If you’re an American fan, you’d really like Ghana to play poorly because it is harder for Portugal to make up the goal difference. And Ghana’s players almost went on strike unless they got some more of the money owed them paid right away. And they wanted the money in cash. Apparently, the Ghanians got their cash even though it is against Brazilian customs regulations to fly into the country with that much foreign currency. (The figures quoted range in the $2-4 million range.)
In 2010, one group (Group A) came into its final match in the same configuration as Group G this year. Back then Uruguay and Mexico were tied with four points and South Africa and France each had one point. Uruguay beat Mexico in the last game 1-0, while South Africa beat a mutinous French squad 2-1. Mexico had a big enough edge in goal difference to nose out South Africa for the second spot (+1 to -2).
But since FIFA started giving out three points for a win, that’s the only time that group play has taken that pattern.
I foresee the Americans and Germans finding a way to get out of the group, most likely with a draw, or the Germans taking their foot off the gas after they get a lead.
Belgium has a chance to join Colombia and Argentina as teams that went a perfect 3-0-0 in group play if they can beat the Koreans. The Belgians are already through to the next round and they don’t have a lot to play for. They would like to win the group and avoid a likely round of 16 matchup with Germany, but they will know who they would face before the match starts.
The Belgians were supposed to very good and they’ve been… not as good. They’ve still won both matches, but they needed two late goals to beat Algeria and one very late goal to beat Russia. Pundits thought that Belgium would be setting the World Cup on its ear, but their Dutch neighbors have made far more noise.
The Koreans fell apart against Algeria, so they should be able to play better, but a draw might be the best they can hope for. The Belgians are -145 for a win.
Algeria surprised a lot of people by scoring four goals (in a fairly short time span) against Korea on Sunday. The Fennec Foxes (one of the World Cup’s best team nicknames) just need a draw to advance. Russia has been uninspiring to watch, scoring just one goal in two matches.
Russia and Korea are not eliminated. If either of them win, they could still advance. Korea would advance with a win and an Algeria loss. Russia needs to beat Algeria and hope that Korea loses, draws, or beats Belgium by a small margin.
Algeria can still win the group with a win over Russia coupled with a Belgium loss.
I’m predicting that the Round of 16 matchups after today will see Germany playing Algeria in Porto Alegre on Monday and Belgium playing the USA on Tuesday in Salvador. Those would both be 1 pm PT starts.
Two more days of this and we’re in to the knockout round (after a rest day on Friday). Today Groups E and F are decided. None of the matches today appear to be great ones, but so far in group play, the unexpected is expected. Which means that it should be expected by now shouldn’t it?
Argentina has already clinched a spot in the final 16 and are playing mainly to join Colombia and Argentina as teams that went a perfect 3-0-0 in group play. The Dutch and Argentines were the only teams that earned nine points in group play in 2010.
Nigeria needs a draw to advance, although that would surprise. Even though Argentina had a hard time defeating Iran on Saturday, they still have so much talent and are better organized than the Nigerians. And they have Leonel Messi.
If Nigeria loses, Iran has a chance to make it to the Final 16 if they can beat Bosnia-Herzegovina. But what makes this very intriguing is that there is a not too unlikely chance of the second spot in the group coming to down a random draw.
If Iran beats Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 and Nigeria loses to Argentina 1-0, both Iran and Nigeria would have four points, a goal difference of 0, total goals scored of 1, and they would have tied their head-to-head matchup. If you like chaos, then this may be up your alley. Or you may find this all unfair.
Or it may end up that there is a clear winner for second place. Even though Bosnia has been eliminated, they are a pretty good team who deserved a better fate. The Bosnians did very well in qualifying, but they got a bad break early in their first match with an own goal. Against Nigeria, they had a goal disallowed on a phantom offside call.
Salvador, the site of Iran-Bosnia, has seen 17 goals scored in its three games, which makes announcers claim that the stadium makes it easier to score goals or some other kind of nonsense. It’s just been three matches and all of the teams who have played in Salvador have been pretty good at scoring goals anywhere.
Wait until you read more about “the Manaus Effect” tomorrow. Tyler Twellman of ESPN said that all four teams that played in Manaus earlier lost their next match. But those four teams were England, Italy, Croatia, and Cameroon. And they weren’t very good in the World Cup. And that sample consists of TWO MATCHES.
Oddsmakers have Argentina as a solid favorite to win and Bosnia as slightly favored over Iran. It hasn’t been a great World Cup for Asia as Japan and Australia (Asian for soccer purposes) have already been eliminated and Iran and Korea are likely to be eliminated as well.
Honduras and Switzerland faced each other in South Africa in 2010 and didn’t score and that might be a likely result in the final match of the tournament in Manaus. The two previous matches there started at 6 pm local time, but this one will kick off at 4 pm local time. The Swiss will likely get to see bugs that are much bigger than the see at home.
Honduras is still looking for its first ever World Cup win. The Catrachos have played eight matches overall in the World Cup and they have nothing better than three draws. They’ve scored just three goals in those eight matches.
France has looked impressive in its first two matches, outscoring Honduras and Switzerland by a 9-2 margin. The jury is still out if this means that France played bad teams or if they really are good. The jury won’t reach a verdict until the knockout rounds start. And even then, France’s likely opponent in the round of 16 will be Nigeria or Iran, not exactly the titans of football.
Ecuador is trying to keep up the success that their South American brethren have had. Five Six South American teams made the tournament and five of them are already in the round of 16 (Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Colombia.) Ecuador would make it five. South American teams went 5 for 5 in making it out of group play in 2010.
Although France has clinched a spot in the round of 16, they haven’t won the group yet, and they would like to do so. Because that way, they don’t play Argentina in the next round. So France will likely be going all out against Ecuador, who are the weakest of the five South American teams.
If Ecuador loses, Switzerland could advance with a draw against Honduras, or Honduras could advance if they were to beat the Swiss by a big margin. But I’m guessing the latter won’t happen.
I’m picking the Swiss to eke out a goal in the rain forest and sneak into the second round and an eventual beating by Argentina.
The winner of Group E plays the runnerup in Group F on Monday in Brasilia. (I think this will be France vs Nigeria) The winner of Group F plays the runner in Group E on Tuesday in Sao Paulo. (This would be Argentina vs Switzerland I think.)
The round of 16 matches are set for Saturday and Sunday
Brazil will play Chile Saturday in Belo Horizonte at 9 am. Colombia will play Uruguay Saturday in Rio de Janeiro at 1 pm.
On Sunday, the Netherlands will play Mexico in Fortaleza at 9 am and Costa Rica will play Greece in Recife at 1 pm.
The Saturday and Sunday matchups are on opposite sides of the bracket.
Nobody told me that I had repeated Day 11 in my headlines twice. But I fixed it! I’m confused about what day of the week it is anyway since my workweek for this week is Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday (taking two vacation days).
Groups C and D get settled today and half of the final 16 will be set. Brazil and Mexico moved on from Group A and Netherlands and Chile moved on from Group B. (Although that was clinched.) Costa Rica and Colombia are playing today after having clinched spots in the final 16 from Groups C and D respectively. England is the only team playing for pride alone.
The Costa Rica-England match won’t matter too much since the TIcos have already clinched a spot in the final 16. England is out. The Three Lions are returning to Belo Horizonte, scene of one of their most shocking losses, a 1-0 loss to the USA in 1950.
England’s squad is obviously dispirited after its early ouster from the tournament. If Roy Hodgson can get the team to put in a halfway decent effort, he should be applauded.
The Ticos are walking in rarefied air. They did advance to the Final 16 in 1990, but their wins that year were against Sweden and Scotland. This year, they’ve beaten two of soccer’s longtime powers: Uruguay and Italy. If Costa Rica beats another former champion, this will be one of the World Cup’s most surprising runs, probably on a parallel to Senegal’s run in 2002. (England is actually a slight betting favorite at -125 to win. Because CONCACAF gets no respect. Although there are pretty good reasons for that.)
You should know that CONCACAF stands for “Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.” It’s the governing body for all the teams in those areas, plus Suriname and Guyana, who don’t want to play with South America. Because they would get slaughtered. Instead they get slaughtered by El Salvador.
Italy and Uruguay are battling for the second spot in the group and they both could also finish atop the group. Italy holds the upper hand as they can advance with a draw. Uruguay needs a win.
Both the Azzuri and the Charruas are well known for spoiling the party at the World Cup, so it will be interesting how they match up when one has to spoil the other’s party. I would lean to Uruguay because Luis Suarez seems to be healthy and, despite being History’s Greatest Monster, he is a lot better at scoring than anyone on Italy’s roster. Oddsmakers have this pretty much as a tossup. I don’t think there will be a lot of goals in this one. Which means there will be a lot of goals in this one.
Colombia is already through in this group with six points after two impressive wins over Greece and Cote d’Ivoire (or Ivory Coast, I go back and forth.) The Ivorians (nicknamed the Elephants) have the best chance of making it to the round of 16, but even Japan and, God forbid, Greece can make it through.
Despite outscoring its opponents by a 5-1 margin, Colombia is just a slight favorite over Japan, who has just one point. Japan have to beat the Cafeteros to have any chance of advancement. The Japanese (the Samurai Blue if you prefer) need the Elephants to lose to Greece, whom I do not think deserve a nickname.
Japan has just one goal in two matches, although in their second match, against Greece, it was pretty hard to score against a Greek defense that parked the bus, hid the keys, ripped the starter out, and then slashed their tires after they went down a man early.
Colombia will win the group with a draw. Japan is going to need to play their best match to get to the Round of 16.
In the other match, Cote d’Ivoire will try to finally make it out of group play with its “Golden Generation” of players. This team may be a bit long in the tooth, but it should be able to beat Greece (or even draw) and get to the next round.
If Greece wins (and by a large margin) and makes it to the Round of 16, you will be able to hear me sighing and moaning if you are standing near the Parthenon.
The winner of Group C plays the runnerup of Group D and will play in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. The winner of Group D will play the runnerup of Group C and play in Recife on Sunday.
If you want to look ahead, if you assume Costa Rica wins Group C and can beat the Group D runnerup (probably Cote d’Ivoire), the Ticos would be playing Brazil on July 4, if Brazil beats Chile.
I forecast the other quarterfinal coming out of these groups to be the Netherlands vs Colombia on July 5.
Group B’s top two teams have been decided: Netherlands and Chile. And they play each other for first place. Australia will take on Spain in what the British call, without any thought that it sounds funny, a dead rubber.
If the Dutch win or draw, they win the group. Chile has to win to win the group. It’s all pretty simple. Robin Van Persie will miss the match with a suspension. Both teams have been very impressive in their first two matches. The Dutch have more famous names, but Chile may be putting together more solid performances top to bottom. It should be fun to watch.
If you insist on watching the Socceroos take on La Furia Roja, I would assume that either you are a diehard fan of either team or you have wagered a large sum of money. And why are you wagering a lot of money on this match, which will feature a lot of guys wondering how long it will take to get out of Curibita, I would think that you are either a compulsive gambler, or a match fixer.
Cameroon has been eliminated from the tournament, so Brazil stands a very good chance of picking up a victory and winning the group.
The Brazilians need a win with a lot of goals, but not to win the group, but to relieve the pressure on them after a couple of lackluster performances in their first two matches. Cameroon has looked terrible, the players seem to hate each other and their federation, and some of its top players don’t want to be there. If Cameroon makes a go of it in this game, then the World Cup will have gone from weird to incredibly weird. Oddsmakers have made Brazil -700 to win.
The Croatia-Mexico match should be more interesting. Mexico has four points despite scoring just one goal. Croatia has three points with five goals. Timing is everything.
Mexico felt like they got a win after a scoreless draw with Brazil. Croatia, who felt that they were jobbed by the ref in their loss to Brazil, picked on a shorthanded Cameroon team for a 4-0 win.
If Mexico wins or draws, they move on to the Round of 16. They would need Brazil to draw or lose for them to win the group. Or they could beat Croatia by a hefty margin, which is probably less likely. Croatia has to win or go home, so they’ve reached their own knockout round.
The winners of each of these two groups face the second place teams in the other group. The group A winner will play on the 28th in Belo Horizonte. The group B winner will play on the 29th in Fortaleza.
After group play, no one will play in Curitiba, Curiaba, Manaus, and Natal anymore.