World Cup picks
This from Yanqui Mike, a American expat in Buenos Aires and a regular reader
Get in the POOL!
Alright. It's Time! This is where the Yanq's throwin' down this year.
Like it says in the Good Book, "...and the blind shall lead the blind..." It says that in there, right? Anyway, if you're a Futbol Idiot like me, you'll be lookin' cool 'cause you'll know who's playin' and when and where...and YOU'LL HAVE AN OPINION! First, let's have a little primer in case you know less about futbol than me (thanks, wiki!):
The World Cup is the biggest thing in sports...period...and every country on the planet gets a pretty decent shot at playing because of the selection process. This championship has been played every 4 years since 1930 except for during world war II when 2 World Cups were cancelled.
There are always 32 nations playing: The host nation automatically gets in no matter how bad they suck. The same goes for whatever nation won last time (but the international federation, FIFA, is gonna change that rule.) Plus the best 8 teams in the world according to their rankings. Then they fill up the rest of the spots with a random drawing.
These 32 teams are then broken up into 8 groups. First off, each group gets one of the top ranked teams. Because Europe is such a powerhouse there is a rule now that says no group can have more than 2 European teams and no group can have more than one of any team from any one of the other 7 conferations (Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, and Oceania.)
Those rules plus the randomness sometimes makes for some very easy groups like this year's Group A for Germany and Group G for France. But usually there is always one group among the eight referred to as "The Group of Death". This year that would be Argentina's draw, Group C, in which they are matched against Holland and Serbia.
Within each of these 8 grupos are 4 teams. Everybody plays everybody else...resulting in a total of 6 games out of each grupo.
If a team wins, it gets 3 points.
If a team ties, it gets 1 point.
If a team loses, it gets 0 points.
At the end of the 6 games the team with the most points goes on to the next stage...and the team with the second-most points goes on to the next stage too.
The next stage is called the "Round of 16" or Octavos: two teams from each of the eight groups. Inside this stage each team only plays one game, resulting in 8 games for this stage:
The winner from A plays the 2nd place team from B
The winner from C plays the 2nd place team from D
The winner from B plays the 2nd place team from A
The winner from D plays the 2nd place team from C
The winner from E plays the 2nd place team from F
The winner from G plays the 2nd place team from H
The winner from F plays the 2nd place team from E
The winner from H plays the 2nd place team from G
Then you get the Quarter Finals:
The winner of the first (above) game plays the winner of the second game.
The winner of the third game plays the winner of the fourth game.
The winner of the fifth game plays the winner of the sixth game.
The winner of the seventh game plays the winner of the eighth game.
Now it's time for the Semifinales:
Winner of the first (above) game plays winner of the third.
Winner of the second plays the winner of the fourth.
Then...in Berlin...on Sunday, July 9th...at 3 o'clock in the afternoon Buenos Aires time, 30 days after it all started... ARGENTINA BEATS BRAZIL... and I collect enough money to buy that cute little A-frame down in Bariloche.
So here's my picks, concocted at the bar in Florida Garden back in April when I knew even less about soccer than I do now (all the above I cribbed from wikipedia moments ago!) The schedule is too big to reproduce here...so go to FIFA to figure out the days and times that you'll need to hide in your basement.
1st Place Germany, 2nd Place Poland
1st Place England, 2nd Place Paraguay
1st Place Argentina, 2nd Place Holland
1st Place Mexico, 2nd Place Angola
1st Place Italy, 2nd Place U.S.
1st Place Brazil, 2nd Place Japan
1st Place France, 2nd Place Korea
1st Place Spain, 2nd Place Tunisia
After doing some research later, I'm pretty happy with my picks...all done in the blind by a yanqui that knows even less about soccer than his average countryman. I leaned toward the famous futbol playing nations, threw in my fondness for Korean toughness, something I read about Japan being good this year, and a suspicion that an African nation is going to do well.
If I had to rethink it, I'd adjust for England because of injuries, the apparently good squad that Sweden is fielding, and The Ukraine which I didn't know was so good.
Gimme your picks!
OK, we're starting a daily open thread for the World Cup, all your anti-England,er, anti-whoever comments are welcome. Today, we're talking picks, Send them along to Mike.
I will announce mine when I make them.
posted by Steve @ 3:58:00 PM