Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eli Has Another Question

With the World Cup starting tonight (and yes, Eli will be watching) another question, not the usual who will win or which team will get out of the groups, but which games would a bunny risk the rath of the family to see.  A lot depends on tactics, if one team parks the bus and relies on breaks to score, that can be not so much fun to watch, and Eli is talking about you, Juergen Klinsmann.

Group A:  Brazil, Croatia, Cameron, Mexico.  Here the most entertaining game is liable to be the first between the two strongest teams, Brazil-Croatia.  Brazil may be the strongest team in the Cup built on a strong defense but with players who can score, Neymar, Fred and Hulk.  The only possible weakness is the midfield.  Willian could fill that hole.  Oscar, not so much.  The danger, of course, is that Croatia WILL park the bus, figuring that a tie followed by two wins against weaker teams gets them out of the group.  This is especially possible in spite of all the noises that the Croats are making because their best scorer Mario Mandzukic from Bayern, will miss the first game.  OTOH, so does a loss followed by two wins and there is quality on this team including Luka Modric from Real.  If Brazil scores early, look for a wonderful game.

For those bunnies who have not seen it, here is a great line from the Guardian about administrators
 The minister of sport once described Croatian football as "a huge swamp of irresponsible behaviour in which there are lots of mosquitos that fly up in the air, suck blood and spread malaria".
Group B:  Spain, the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.  Chile - The Netherlands.  This should be the rubber match to determine which team goes forward to the eliminations.  Spain, although growing old, has enough quality left to make it that far, but probably not to the semis.  The Netherlands invented total football and if von Persie is healed (always a question) has a lot of fire power.  Chile was third in the South American qualifying and is being tipped as a dark horse in the tournament. They play a pressing style and have some great players, Vidal (Juventus) and Sanchez (Barcelona), but so does the Netherlands with Van Persie and Arjen Robben.  Chile is small at the back, and both Robben and Van Persie are over 1.8m, so this could get interesting, especially since this is the last game of the group and depending on the outcome of their games against Spain one or both of these teams could be desperate.  The group could actually be decided by goals against Australia (sorry guys).

Group C:  Columbia, Greece, Cote d'Ivoire, Japan.  The weakest and least photogenic group of the tournament, thus the hardest to find a game worth watching.  Take the Ms. to the mall.  Cote d'Ivoire has some great players left from their golden generation, Gervinho, Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou and Didire Drogba, but they always disappoint in Cups.  Japan is like the US, strongest team in a weak confederation, Greece has always been as much fun to watch as paint drying with their defensive approach which leaves Columbia, a very good team that is in danger of going to sleep in a weak group.  Save your money

Group D:  Uruguay, Italy, England, Costa Rica.  Italy - England.  Another group where the best game may be between the teams struggling for the second place.  Uruguay is the class of this group, at least in attack with Suarez and Calvani.  Italy and England play the first game in hell, aka the Arena de AmazĂ´nia, in the middle of the Amazon in Manaus.  So you have heat, humidity, a really awful pitch, desperation and jet lag because the commute to Hell is long.  What's not to like?  The field could make this a clown show or a thriller.  England has some speed and youth, which if they bring it on late after everyone else has sweated out their strength, could break the game open.  Italy has Mario Balotelli.  Anything can happen.

Tomorrow Groups EFGH.  Suggestions welcome


  1. With my eleventh World Cup of frustrated viewing looming, some pointers from observation and bitter experience. The statistics are invented, so ignore them if you wish.
    First: Groups E-H ; Germany vs Portugal is the clear stand-out - the machine vs the brilliant individual, tactics vs inspiration. Should be fun.
    However: Games between serious contenders in the group rounds = 80% disappointing, 20% enjoyable, irrespective of the participants. This is because the strategy is almost always 'first, don't lose'.
    Games between 'contenders' vs 'makeweights' are a better bet for entertainment, first, because the 'freedom to play' is probably higher, second, because the gap between the top teams and the others is narrow enough that on any given day, the lesser can upset the greater. If you can get the family to back the underdogs, this results in joy for all; either despair, because the big guys win 5-0, or delight, because little guys were two up with five minutes to go, or actually ended up winning. Chance of a 'good watch' up to 40%.
    With this latter in mind, if you can get past the mentality of having to back a winner (because they won't) I believe that the USA will make a stronger showing than expected, based on style, competence and status - they can make it to the quarter finals, after which each game is a lottery of circumstance. I am also wondering if Ivory Coast can finally pull it together and lift Africa onece again. To which my tentative response is 'yes'. They are my dark horses for a semi-final berth.
    Finally, watching England is always fun, if you like emotional roller-coasters. I'll be with them not only because I live here, but also because England's brightest hope for glory, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, is a former student.

  2. This was a bit of fun for Hawking to make some moeny for charity with: Stephen Hawking unveils formulae for England World Cup success

    I don't know a single Englishman who disagrees with Hawking's appraisal of England's penalty capabilities.

    "As we say in science," Hawking put it, "England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo."

  3. In sport, I think it is important to leaven the bread of historical inevitability with the yeast of hopeless optimism, and 'treat these two imposters just the same'.

  4. 35 years away from my native New Jersey (first in The Netherlands, then in Ireland) tells me that Eli may not be a U.S. native, being so apparently knowledgeable about football (well, at least he didn't call it soccer).

    As an aside, Klinsmann was one of the early proponents of the game wrecking dive, so I was never a big fan of his.

  5. now Eli once mentioned the Bronx as part of his origin story. Have I got that wrong?

    Meanwhile, on football, no doubt you've already seen this, but if not, fun for the peanut gallery:

  6. Speaking of gentlemen sports, we may expect that Lundqvist will steal another one at LA, we might have an interesting Stanley Cup final at last.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Eli is a Brooklyn bunny. East New York (the tonier part of Brownsville) to be precise.

  9. If I can chime in without sounding like an a**hole (I know, I know...),

    I lived in W Germany during the World Cup Final in 1986. One of the players was from not too far away IIRC, my German friends were beside themselves. I played on a club team because I could run all day and harass the other team, not because I was any good.

    I remember Detroit winning the World Series in 1968 and people flooding the streets and the firehouse alarms blaring, but nothing prepared me for the World Cup. Streets empty, bars full, everything stopped.

    And still, eh. Maybe because I'm a Yank. Maybe because I don't play any more. Maybe because another corporate sport.



  10. Ah, Brooklyn, it was the cotton candy that misled me. Now going guiltily OT.

    Being a West Country wannabe, once had a lovely picnic near Bridport (weather sidebar). Then did quite a nice painting at Budleigh Salterton, after sheltering from some hail under a poncho. But nobody asked me ... Furthermore, parents house in Port Isaac (aka Portwenn) for a couple decades.

  11. Brazil 3 : 1 Croatia

    No, wait...

    FIFA 3 : 1 Croatia

  12. Put Rooney on the subs' bench, and Costa Rica gave a hint that it could be an interesting competition. Gutted for Suarez, but I'm biased that way.

  13. This world cup will probably different. For example, I predict Spain will be out very fast. The Dutch team should do extremely well with van Persie and Robben scoring spectacular goals.

    In the other groups I see a struggle between Brazil and Mexico, Colombia should do well, and the other group looks tough, I would say Italy and Uruguay, but I give the poor English an outside chance.

  14. "I predict Spain will be out very fast."

    Love your hindcasting skill :)

  15. No longer gutted for Suarez. Send him to Man Utd.


Dear Anonymous,

UPDATE: The spambots got clever so the verification is back. Apologies

Some of the regulars here are having trouble telling the anonymice apart. Please add some distinguishing name to your comment such as Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, or Fred.

You can stretch the comment box for more space

The management.