Back in December, immediately after the draw for the World Cup, I had the temerity to write a long post breaking down each group, and I foolishly offered predictions as to how the sides would finish. I’ve been meaning to write this post prior to the last round of matches from the group stage, but a series of events have intervened.
Now, half way through those matches, let’s see how I have fared.
Prediction: 1. Mexico, 2. France, 3. Uruguay, 4. South Africa
Result: 1. Uruguay, 2. Mexico, 3. South Africa, 4. France.
The difference between Mexico and South Africa was down to goal differential. At least I was smart enough to state “And Uruguay don’t suck either”. I don’t think I can be faulted for horribly mis-predicting France, as I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the circus that France became in this tournament.
Prediction: 1. Argentina, 2. Greece, 3. South Korea, 4. Nigeria.
Result: 1. Argentina, 2. South Korea, 3. Greece, 4. Nigeria.
Not a bad prediction, only a point separated South Korea from Greece. Of course suggesting that Argentina take the group isn’t exactly a risky proposition.
Prediction: 1. England, 2. USA, 3. Slovenia, 4. Algeria.
Result: 1. USA, 2. England, 3. Slovenia, 4. Algeria.
As predictions go, as I was only off by the “goals scored” tie breaker, I can’t feel too bad about this one. Furthermore,m I did say “Don’t underestimate Slovenia, any of you”. I should have also said “don’t overestimate England”. Furthermore, it was a lot closer on the final day than most would have predicted, and had those two 1-0 scorelines been reversed, it would be Slovenia and Algeria progressing, not the USA and England.
Ill-Advised Prediction: 1. Germany, 2. Serbia, 3. Australia, 4. Ghana.
Result: 1. Germany, 2. Ghana, 3. Australia, 4. Serbia.
Well, two out of four isn’t bad. And I did say the following about Ghana:
And Ghana may be all about Essien in the international media, but they have a reputation of being well organized in a disorganized way. Which, as a faux statistician, I can appreciate. But more critically, they have a lot of youth, and their kids have done well in FIFA tournaments in the past decade or so. That said, I still see them finishing last in this tough group. Serbia are that good.
If one chooses to ignore the final two sentences, I come out looking pretty good.
Prediction: 1. Holland, 2. Denmark
Situation: 1. Netherlands 6, 2. Japan 3, 3. Denmark 3, 4. Cameroon 0.
Fina matches: tonight, 19:30 BST.
The Dutch should win the group — they play Cameroon tonight, and all they need is a draw to win the group. Even if the Oranje were to lose, their goal differential advantage (+3 over Japan, +4 over Denmark) should be enough to protect them. The big match is Denmark v Japan. They’re only separated by goal differential, and that’s one goal; however, that logically means Denmark have to win in order to progress.
Prediction: 1. Italy, 2. Paraguay, 3. Slovakia, 4. New Zealand.
Situation: 1. Paraguay 4, 2. Italy 2, 3. New Zealand 2, 4. Slovakia 1.
Final matches: today, 15:00 BST.
Any of the four can still progress, and any of the four can still go out. If Paraguay draw New Zealand, they’re through. Nothing separates Italy and New Zealand at the moment, they’ve both drawn two, scored two goals, and conceded two goals. This will be a fascinating one, much like Group C yesterday afternoon.
Prediction: 1. Brazil, 2. Cote D’Ivoire, 3. Portugal, 4. North Korea.
Situation: 1. Brazil 6, 2. Portugal 4, 3. Cote D’Ivoire 1, 4. North Korea, 0.
Final matches: Friday, 15:00 BST.
Brazil are through, but have not secured the top seed. However, if Brazil and Portugal merely draw, Brazil are through as top, Portugal are through in second. The Ivory Coast will beat our reclusive friends from North Korea, but even if Portugal were to lose, the commanding goal differential advantage currently enjoyed by Portugal (+7) over the Ivory Coast (-2) dooms the Ivory Coast to third with near certainty. Unless Brazil win by a couple, and the Ivory Coast put seven or eight in against North Korea. An unlikely proposition.
Prediction: 1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Switzerland, 4. Honduras.
Situation: 1. Chile 6, 2. Spain 3, 3. Switzerland 3 , 4. Honduras 0.
Final matches: Friday, 19:30 BST.
The Switzerland victory over Spain threw a spanner into the works of this group. Chile are through, but (UPDATE: as per the first comment below, there is a scenario, not improbable, where Chile don’t get through) face Spain in their final match. All that separates Spain from Switzerland is a single goal on goal differential. Again, this will provide for an engaging set of matches.
All said, I haven’t done terribly bad. I horribly overrated both France and Serbia, and have slightly overrated Italy and England. I predicted England 2-1 over USA, which was ever so slightly off, and predicted USA 2-1 over Algeria. I knew we would beat Algeria, if I began to seriously doubt that around the 80th minute of yesterday’s match.
At least I seem to have nailed the North Korea position.
I fly to the USA on the 28th, which means I’ll miss a couple of the first knockout matches, but I’ll be able to watch USA v Ghana from home on Saturday (with my daughter no less). If the USA make it past Ghana, and I think we will, I’ll be able to watch a USMNT quarter final match in the USA, which will be a pleasant change. The next match would be against the winner of Uruguay and South Korea . . . and an English friend of mine here sent me an email this morning predicting that the USA make the semi finals. He thinks we’ll get past both Ghana and Uruguay.
Me, I’m happy getting out of the group. Not getting out of the group would have been a major disappointment. Finishing top means we avoid Germany (for the time being), which does help our cause for progression.