World Cup: Groups E and F decided today

Posted: 06/25/2014 by levcohen in Soccer

Another good day of soccer yesterday was overshadowed by yet another biting incident involving Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. In case you aren’t familiar with Suarez, this is not the first time he’s bit someone on the field. Once would be shocking and unforgivable, but this is bite #3 for Suarez; that’s just mind-blowing. He’s an uber-talented player, but his temper is out of control. A suspension is likely to come, and Suarez needs to get some kind of help before he takes the field again and puts people at risk. Anyway, Uruguay scored a minute after the bite behind the head of defender Diego Godin, and they held on to eliminate 10-man Italy, who needed just a draw to win. I don’t feel bad for Italy because they were poor and didn’t deserve to progress. Then again, Uruguay didn’t deserve it either. These two and England all underachieved, which makes Group D perhaps the most underachieving based on its sky-high expectations. I just hope that Colombia, who beat Japan 4-1, running their record to 3-0-0 and goal differential to +7, crushes Uruguay. Meanwhile, Greece upset Ivory Coast 2-1, sending the Greeks through to the round of 16 over Ivory Coast. The way they won was cruel, with a stoppage time penalty breaking a deadlock that would have put Ivory Coast through. But while it was sad to watch the Africans wilt after the penalty, they really should have done better. They were much more talented than Greece, and played poorly. If they had played to their potential, they would have six points right now and would have a date with Costa Rica in the round of 16.

Group E looks a lot like Group C did before yesterday in that there is a clear favorite to win the group (France) and a wide-open race for the second spot. France isn’t officially through, but even if they lose to Ecuador, their +6 goal differential and six points should be enough. Ecuador needs the points more, because they are locked in a battle with Switzerland and even pointless Honduras. The race between Switzerland and Ecuador is close, because while Switzerland has the easier game, Ecuador would progress if both games end in ties due to their 0 goal differential (Switzerland is -2). Meanwhile, Honduras would need a near-miracle to advance. They’d have to beat Switzerland by multiple goals and Ecuador would need to lose to France by multiple goals. For all intents and purposes, this is a race between Switzerland and Ecuador, who are locked on three points. Obviously, if one gets a better result than the other, that team will go through. But, even after their 5-2 loss to France, Switzerland must be slight favorites solely because they play one of the worst teams in the World Cup, Honduras, while Ecuador plays one of the best in France. One thing is for sure: After American teams when a perfect six for six in qualifying in groups A-D (Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay), at least one American team will fail to qualify from Group E. And after getting just two of its first six teams into the last sixteen, Europe could sweep Group E. In that way, it’s sort of a backwards group.

Group F is pretty clear cut. Barring a loss to Nigeria, Argentina will top the group. Nigeria is through unless they lose to Argentina (probable) and Iran beats Bosnia (less likely). Iran is out unless that scenario happens, while Bosnia has already been eliminated even though they looked pretty good in their first two games. You’d think that Bosnia would play at full strength to avoid going home without a point, and they have to be favored over Iran, which means Nigeria should be heavily favored to get through over Iran. This group seems pretty clear cut and boring, and it’s also had by far the least scoring of any group, with just 10 goals in four games. If Nigeria lost 2-1 and Iran won 2-1, things would get interesting. Each team will have scored two and allowed two goals in the group, and they tied 0-0 in their head to head game. That means lots would be drawn to determine which team would progress, which would be kind of unfair and also cool. But I don’t think that’s likely to happen, because Iran isn’t likely to score more than a goal; they are the only team without a goal in the World Cup.

My predictions: France clinches top spot with a result against Ecuador, while Switzerland and Honduras tie, putting the Swiss through and eliminating Ecuador. Meanwhile, Argentina and Nigeria both qualify from Group F, with Bosnia taking three points from Iran.

  1. quadrangular says:

    I thought only animals and little children bite! It seems so, well, childish, though objectively speaking it probably isn’t worse than punching a guy and breaking his nose.

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