Today’s footie, and the progress of our contest

There’s no footie today, of course. On Saturday, though, we’ll have the match for third place, with Brazil up against Netherlands. For some reason I’m not expecting much there. But on Sunday Argentina goes up against the mighty German team, and I’m expecting a good game. Several Argentine players are injured, and my heart and my head tell me different things (I’m an Argentina fan). One thing’s for sure: Messi will be double- or triple-teamed.

As several readers noted, yesterday’s match was a bit of a disappointment, with both teams playing a largely defensive game. And so, of course, it was settled on penalty kicks. I hope that doesn’t happen on Sunday.

Anyway, here are the highlights of Argentina vs. Netherlands. Click on the screenshot to see them in a video. The winning kick!:

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 6.25.54 AM

What about the contest, whereby those who picked the two final teams, and the final score, win an autographed copy of WEIT with a cat drawn in it playing footie and wearing your team’s colors?

The kindly reader who made a spreadsheet of all the entries has progressively narrowed it down. Eight readers remain in contention. The reader’s report:

We are down to eight.  I had Argentina over Brazil and now am out.  Six have Germany.  Two have Argentina.  If Germany wins, there’s a strong chance of someone having the score.  1-0 through 3-2 are covered as is Germany winning on PKs with a score of 1-1.  The two picking Argentina have scores of 3-1 and 3-2.

And here is the spreadsheet to show you who’s still in contention (note that there is one duplication), and if Argentina wins 3-1 the earliest entry will take the prize:

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 6.32.46 AM

Good luck!

17 Comments

  1. Inga
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I’m worried the match will be as bad as the one last night. I hate these super-defenseive, slow, boring games whose only tension comes from the fact that there will definitely be a winner at the end.
    But hope remains that our guys might be able to play *their* game instead of being forced to play Argentina’s. It would certainly be more enjoyable to watch.

  2. TJR
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Last night was unfortunately what you get when two half-decent, well organised teams play cautiously because they know how good the opposing attackers are.

    It was also a classic example of a dodgy keeper actually being much better against penalties than a decent keeper. If anything Holland’s penalties were slightly better, it was very much the keeper that won it.

    I predict 1-0 Argentina. And a riot.

  3. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    The problem with last night’s game was that two roughly equal teams faced each other and each set out to nullify the attacking and goalscoring capabilities of the opposition. Sadly, both sides successfully implemented this strategy.

    The fans, like me, would obviously have preferred to see both teams going for the jugular, but when the prize is a spot in the final and the two sides are very equally matched, one can expect caution on both sides.

    The German side don’t play with caution, just ruthless efficiency. They don’t have a superstar in the same bracket as Messi, but they do have excellent players in every position, a very strong bench and an excellent team spirit.

    Argentina also have quality throughout the team, but Germany just about pip them in terms of aggregate talent and collective esprit de corps, so I think that Germany will win, but a lot depends on which Messi turns up on the day; the quiet, anonymous Messi, or the Messi with fire in his boots.

  4. Daoud
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    I keep repeating myself, the World Cup usually ends up being really anticlimactic. It tends to be most enjoyable during the group round. Once we get to elimination rounds, too many teams play to avoid losing, and not playing to win.

    I think another 0-0 draw decided on penalties is very likely outcome.

    • TJR
      Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Its not “playing to avoid losing” its just that knockout games are zero sum, unlike in a league with 3 points for a win.

      Playing in a more attacking way usually increases the opposition’s chance of scoring more than your own.

      Hence in knockout games it is nearly always more effective to be cautious unless you go behind, so that knockout games only tend to be exciting if the weaker teams scores first and fairly early.

      • Daoud
        Posted July 10, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        Oh I understand the logic behind it, it just tends to make for less interesting games, which is why I tend to prefer the group stage games.

        • TJR
          Posted July 10, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Fair enough, but your expression of it was a bit misleading. The teams *are* playing to win, its just that caution is the best way to do that.

  5. Daoud
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Some neat commentary, from a probability angle, on the NYTimes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/science/soccer-a-beautiful-game-of-chance.html?src=me

    About how important luck is to the game, but also how that’s a good thing.

    • Kevin
      Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      That is a great article.

      Analogous to two complex systems. Consider two identical flash drives. Store precisely the same data at the same time for a certain amount of time then erase…repeat, store and erase. There will certainly be errors and eventual failure rates that will make their respective performances depart from one another. That is not very atoms in a flash drive compared a soccer ball, let alone one human being.

  6. SM
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Actually I’m not sure that Messi will be be singled out for any particularly special attention, at least not in the way that De Jong did last night. I suspect Germany will feel that their midfield is strong enough to dominate without needed to resort to specific measures to nullify Messi.

  7. Draken
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    The winning kick!

    Or the losing kick. It’s all in the eye of the ballholder.

  8. Aaron H.
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Let’s go Germany! But only by a score of 1-0, of course.

  9. Posted July 10, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I hope Rob or Blue wins. Those would be potentially AWESOME games. I wish I would have vetted the previous scores better. grrrr. Happy to have guessed the final two though.

  10. michaelfugate
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    If the final goes to penalties, does that guarantee a win for Germany? Costa Rica beats Greece on penalties, then loses to the Netherlands on penalties. The Netherlands beats Costa Rica on penalties, then loses to Argentina on penalties. Coincidence?

    • Nick Evans
      Posted July 10, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      It doesn’t really matter what the preceding sequence of events is: as former England star, Gary Lineker, said, “football is a simple game – you play for 120 minutes and then the Germans win on penalties”.

      The only country ever to beat them on penalties in a major tournament no longer exists: Czechoslovakia in their 1st shootout in 1976. Since then, they’ve won every shootout in a competitive tournament (including to knock Argentina out in 2006). In fact, only one German player has ever missed a penalty in the World Cup.

      • Arne
        Posted July 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        That is why many Germans won’t agree that a game going to penalties will be decided by luck, actually…

        • nicky
          Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          And we don’t agree it is luck because we have just seen it: the penalty shootout of the Dutch v the Ticos: well prepared and they won.
          Penalty shootout against the Albiceleste: not well prepared and they lost.
          I cannot fathom why van Gaal used his last substitution during extra-time. No possibility of having Krul during a shoot-out, mind boggling. I think Cillesen has never ever stopped a penalty, if I’m not mistaken.
          Penalty shootouts are an art in itself.


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