Russia knocks Spain out of World Cup

This is a World Cup of topsy turvy results. I’ve been able to watch only one game, but I follow the results, and this is an unexpected one. Yesterday, after tying Spain 1-1 in regular time, Russia beat them 4-3 in the penalty kick phase. What with Germany, Argentina, and Portugal out, few potential winners remain in our World Cup contest.

Congrats to Russia, even if the country is run by an odious oligarch.

For your delectation (or sadness), here’s France beating Argentina 4-3:

64 Comments

  1. Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Germany not getting out of the group was incredible. Like Buster Douglas beating Tyson level of unexpected results.

  2. Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Re “What with Germany, Argentina, and Portugal out, few potential winners remain in our World Cup contest.” Don’t you mean that few of the favorites … or few of the predicted winners? Surely some country must win, so are not all of the remaining teams potential winners?

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      I meant few predicted winners. Not many people remain who have a chance to win the prize.

      • BJ
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        The day after I made my prediction, I really regretted picking Germany to be in the finals and wished I had picked France v. Croatia. Oh well!

        • Ivan Romic
          Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

          As a Croat, I regret not doing the same.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      It’s also true that there are few potential winners of the actual World Cup. At the start of the qualification phase of the competition there were (according to Wikipedia) 211 potential winners. Now there are only twelve.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      It was referring to our contest, not the actual World Cup. I forget what my entry was but I suspect I’m out already.

      • George
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Germany 2 Portugal 1. You’re out.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Just another view from someone who follows no sports any longer. I thought many years ago they needed to raise the basket another two feet and see how that goes. In round football they need to widen the net.

    Watching people jam the ball down a basket from above is not such a skill when you are 7 feet tall. Watching how many football games ending in 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-1 can you take? If scoring is not that important, why have a net at all.

    • BJ
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      It has a lot less to do with how large or small the net is and more to do with defense and strategy. Soccer is a game of strategy. When two well-matched teams butt up against each other, it’s a chess match, not a high-scoring affair. That’s what makes it exciting.

      Not every sport is about just seeing goals scored. Educated fans enjoy watching the strategy and defense that prevents goals.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Well then, I say again – Why even have a net? Why do they go nuts when they do score? I think they go nuts because it happens so seldom. Let’s not overstate the intellectual size of this game. Chess? Let’s stay with athletic abilities.

        • BJ
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Do you honestly believe that it’s nothing but athletic ability? The fact that you don’t see what’s going on does not preclude the underlying strategy going on.

          I get why many people don’t enjoy soccer and am not one to argue that they should. I will argue when they make statements that aren’t true. But who cares? It’s the world’s biggest sport, so it clearly doesn’t need to change for the people who don’t enjoy it.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            No it’s not just athletics but neither is baseball or football or rugby or any sports. I do not see it as anymore intellectual than any. It is the biggest sport in the world but so what? When they start giving lengthy written tests to play right wing or center forward let me know. It may also be the most corrupt game at the highest levels so maybe more points for that. Try not to be so serious about the thing…it is only a game, right?

            • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

              I think you are being a bit of a curmudgeon here. I’ve grown to appreciate the strategy and the skill of the players and the excitement of the fans. But why tear down something just because you don’t like it?

              • BJ
                Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

                “But why tear down something just because you don’t like it?”

                Indeed.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

                You folks are something else. I make a simple suggestion on a game and you act like I stole your first girl friend. You can make whatever you want of this sport or any other, I am not the comissioner who really makes the rules. But you want to make this game into something only intellectuals can appreciate, that I will tear down.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        The main reason I don’t enjoy soccer is nobody ever scores.

        There’s plenty of skill and strategy in rugby, with the added excitement of scoring.

        Cricket is a chess match (more so than soccer imo), but still has plenty of scoring.

        Field hockey is very similar to soccer, but I find it far more enjoyable to watch because the skill level seems higher to me, though I get I’m in a minority there.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          I know nothing about field hockey. It looks kind of dangerous.

          They made changes to america baseball to get more scoring. I think they put the three point shot into basketball because the players were getting so tall it was all jam and no skill. Football just became a passing game and lots of concussions.

          What was good about soccer/football is that normal size people could play at the highest levels. But they need some scoring and going to a wider net might help.

          • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            Not trying to pit one sport against another but baseball also mostly features regular-sized folk.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

              Very true. I always thought people might identify better with a sport that most people play but it seems not to make a difference. They go nuts for american football and there is nothing normal there. The quarter back must be 6’5″ or he cannot see over the line. 350 lbs. is an average lineman. I think a running back has to be 230 or more, otherwise the linebackers will pound you to the ground with one arm.

        • BJ
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          Hey, I get why many people don’t enjoy soccer, but the low scoring of games with two excellent opponents is very exciting to many people. I’m not trying to convince anyone to like soccer, but I don’t think it needs to change for those who wish for more offense. It is, after all, the world’s biggest sport.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 1:41 am | Permalink

            I’ll stick my oar in. I think that soccer is a far more inspiring game than either American ‘football’ as played in spurts in astronaut suits, or the various flavours of mud-wrestling called rugby.

            The one thing that does detract from soccer as a spectator sport is the very small number of goals, such that it is possible to watch both teams exercising considerable levels of skill for an hour with no result, and also, with so very few goals, luck can play too great a role in the final score.

            If the average number of goals in a game was, say, ten or so, I think both those factors would be much improved. With a larger number of goals the role of chance or luck would be reduced. Widening the net by a few feet as Randall suggested would be the most obvious and simple way to achieve this.

            Some years back cricket decided that nobody in this century was going to watch two teams battling it out for five days and ending in a draw. So they changed their rules to permit one-day matches with a definite result. Maybe soccer could take the hint.

            (My favourite spectator sport? – volleyball).

            cr

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted July 3, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

              Beach Volleyball perchance? 🙂

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      HERE IS A VERY GOOD ANALYSIS written in 2014, exploring the decline in goal scoring in English domestic football – e.g. there have been 13,475 Nil-Nil Draws in 126 years. The % of drawn games is about double what it was pre-WWI where players tended to play for free or pocket money, while holding down a ‘proper’ job [I’m not saying the changing status of players & the professionalisation of the game is the reason for so many draws].

      I don’t think the physical dimensions of the pitch/equipment needs to change – but some rules tweaks would help a lot to open up the game & make it flow with fewer lengthy stoppages.

      ** Adjust the off-side rule or kill it maybe [I’m in three minds on this one].

      ** Replace the yellow card with a 10 minute sin bin

      ** Shirt-pulling & wrapping arms around an opponent & diving – the panoply of ‘professional’ play needs to be dealt with. At the moment the professional foul is a +EV tactic – that needs to change to -EV

      ** No flocking around the ref & badgering the poor guy. Only the captains should speak to the ref – anyone else addressing the ref by gesture or voice gets sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

      ** Discourage behaviour that allows a team to easily protect their one goal lead. This is not entertainment. Perhaps a weird rule needs to come into play in the last 10 mins where you can’t pass the ball back & forth [often back passes] while failing to advance up the pitch.

      Football needs to be more fun!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        None of the above are my ideas BTW
        I got some of them HERE

  4. Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    few potential winners remain in our World Cup contest

    Is there any chance of producing a list of who is still in the contest at, say, the beginning of the quarter finals?

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      If there are any left at that time.

  5. ChrisH
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Very dodgy penalty denial against Russia. England were awarded one for similar behaviour. If they weren’t the host I’m pretty sure it would have been given…

    • Teresa Carson
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I heard on MSNBC that two players were tackled (American football style) by the Russians. Apparently a lot of people believe Russia should have received a penalty. I know nothing about this – just reporting what I heard.

  6. Merilee
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Messi😿

  7. Monika
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Mexico vs Brasil is on now, we’ll see if the trend continues.

    • Monika
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Nope Brasil won… 2:0

  8. Eric Grobler
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    “Congrats to Russia, even if the country is run by an odious oligarch.”

    True, but the world is currently devoid of any good leadership!

    Can anyone name a world leader of any major country worthy of respect?

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I don’t know who they are because they’re never mentioned in the news.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Trudeau

      Merkel

      Macron

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Ardern looks to be a worthy leader. Is New Zealand a ‘major’ country? I don’t know what a major country is.

        We’ll see what Mexico’s new leftist populist leader does for that country. Too early to tell.

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        I know little of Macron except that he seems very intelligent and appear to have a strategic understanding of the challenges that Europe face.

        I have no time for Trudeau, he is a shallow SJW.

        Merkel made the migrant crisis far worse than it needs to be, and appears to be more interested in politics than solving the problem.

        • Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

          I’m sure that you could find a character flaw in any major leader that would allow you to disrespect them.

  9. BJ
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    That half of the bracket is insanely unpredictable right now. Brazil/Mexico, France, Belgium, and Uruguay are all on the other side.

    Anyone else think Uruguay’s Luis Suarez looks just like a young Ricardo Darin?

    https://goo.gl/images/cznBEp

    • BJ
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Also, gotta hand it to Russia. They played a fantastic game.

    • Merilee
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      He’s got the chompers, but did he bite other players? I do enjoy watching Suarez these days.

      • BJ
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        He sure did. That smile hides a danger….

        • Merilee
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          I know that Suarez has bitten, but has the older guy?

          • Eduardo
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            Here’s one more reason to root for my beloved “Celeste”: Uruguay has the only coach I know to have said publicly more than once that he is an atheist.

          • BJ
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

            Hmmmm, not that I know of, but who can say for sure?

  10. Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Get rid of the goal tenders so the scores would be more like basketball. Then I might be interested.

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      The Russia-Spain game reminded me of basketball. Specifically college basketball before the shot clock when teams ran something called the four corners offense. The team on defense was packed into a tight zone. The team with the ball just passed it around the outside. Basketball had the good sense to change the rules to eliminate that. The “beautiful game” insists that it can never change. Even though the fundamental piece of equipment in the game, the ball, has changed tremendously. What was once a deformed waterlogged piece of leather is now a high tech almost perfect sphere.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      The game would suffer for that. To my eye, basketball is pretty monotonous because it looks like one team gets the ball, runs up the other end, scores. The other team gets the ball, runs up the other end, scores. Repeat until the whole thing is mercifully brought to a tedious close by the advertising breaks.

      Football is about the skill of the players to get into a good position to defeat the goal keeper. If there wasn’t one, everybody would just take a shot when they are within about 30 metres.

      • Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        As someone who appreciates both sports, I disagree with your assessment of basketball. Don’t you find that pretty much all sports with which you are unfamiliar are boring and repetitive? I’m thinking curling as a great example.

        • Diane G
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

          Yep.

        • Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:16 am | Permalink

          I understand my view on basketball is subjective, that’s why I wrote “to my eyes…” The person to whom I was responding is guilty of pretty much the same thing which is what I was calling out.

          Don’t you find that pretty much all sports with which you are unfamiliar are boring and repetitive? I’m thinking curling as a great example.

          It’s true that people who don’t understand the nuances of a game are more likely to be bored by watching it but I find there are exceptions. For me, curling is one. Baseball is another.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 1:50 am | Permalink

        I agree. Can’t get rid of the keeper. (And I agree with the boring repetiveness of basketball).

        But maybe make the goal a few feet wider as Randall suggested, to make goals just a little easier. Doesn’t need to be much.

        cr

  11. Jim Smith
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    If you got points for ball control Spain would be WC champs. But too much possession for sake of possession. At some point you have to do something. Which is why I loved watching Senegal. A lot of long balls for player to run up on.

    Watching the Japan/Belgium game right now. It’s been totally ruined by a Japanese players appropriation of blond hair. The horror, the horror. LOL!

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      What a game the Belgium Japan match was…heartbroken for the Japanese who played the best football of any team so far. They were sublime.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I believe Germany, Portugal, and Spain all had considerable edges in possession time. And all lost.

      • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Decided to check my recollection. Possession time doesn’t much predict victory for many matches so far.

        Round of 16 possession stats: Argentina 59%; Portugal 61%; Spain 75%; Croatia 54%; Mexico 53%; Belgium 56%. Only Croatia and Belgium won.

        In group, Germany had 60% against Mexico and a whopping 70% against South Korea and lost, in fact were shut out, both games.

  12. Eduardo
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I say the favorites are Brazil, France, England, and definitely Uruguay, and I say Uruguay not only because being from there I love the “Celeste” but because I really think we have the players, the strategy, and the legendary “charrúa” attitude to go all the way. Like the Wall Street Journal said last week: “And in 12 years in charge of Uruguay’s national team, [coach Tábarez] has helped turn a country of 3.5 million into the best pound-for-pound team in world soccer”.
    And one more important reason: if coach Tabárez takes the cup you can be sure he won’t be thanking god. He’s the only coach I know to have said publicly, more than once, that he is an atheist. How about that for a reason to root for Uruguay?

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Probably would if not for Suarez. He creeps me out.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      I like that reason! Plus I always tend to root for the underdog.

  13. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    The Russia Spain match was one of the most boring games I’ve ever seen. The Spanish were playing a cargo cult version of their own tiki taka football and deservedly went out but the Russians were mindnumbingly awful too.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      It seemed like Spain forgot that if they let the game go to penalty kicks, they would lose their advantage. On the other hand, Russia was probably thinking if they could get the far better team to penalty kicks they would at least have a 50-50 chance.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the Russians were playing for penalties from the very first minute. With good reason, since they’re terrible.

        Spain were dismal and a bit arrogant, and Russia’s victory has already been co-opted by Putin, as was inevitable. I would have liked it if they could’ve both been eliminated tbh.

  14. rom
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Russia’s tactics were like their politics … ugly but competent.

  15. Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Best match so far has been today’s, with Belgium vs Japan. The action was thrilling and suspenseful, and they showed great sportsmanship and talent.


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