This fulfills my duty to write about certain games

While US v Algeria was pretty entertaining (I think), if you didn’t care that much about the result, from my point of view it was difficult.

The Group D games were quite entertaining. Germany beat Ghana, but I didn’t really come away feeling like Germany was the better team. Granted, Germany didn’t have Klose, but the result could easily have been different. Meanwhile, Australia beat Serbia 2-1, after being up 2-0 and for a second having a shot to score the goals that would get them into the second round. The end of Serbia Australia was a crazy andrenaline-filled track meet. Australia had to score a few goals, while Serbia had to tie or win. It was truly frenetic. When the other team had the ball, it was take any risk to win the ball and then go immediately for goal, meaning the attacks always had numbers. And man, the Serbia striker missed some sitters to send his team through to the second round.

If there was a team that was victimized by the refs as much as the US in group play, I think you’d probably go with Australia. Two red cards in the beginning of their first two matches, and yet they were only eliminated from one of the World Cup’s toughest groups on goal differential. Give Australia credit. Unfortunately, I think you could argue that both red cards were technically correct, even if harsh and certainly not always given. Also they meant suspensions for some of Australia’s most crucial players, especially Tim Cahill. The handball on the goal line: well, it usually gets a red, but I think that in context there was a pretty good case to be made that it wasn’t intentional. Call the penalty, don’t give the red actually was probably the correct call, although I do think most refs would give the red card as it is the normal thing to do in that situation.

I thought Holland’s movement off the ball against Cameroon was quite impressive, though I only saw the first half. In my opinion, the best half of football played so far at this World Cup. The game wasn’t particularly important, and you could even argue that would have been better to finish in second in the group, but…

Japan beat Denmark in a game I didn’t watch and so know nothing about. Given that Korea and Japan both advanced, give them some credit.

Oh….yeah, and Italy did not advance. This is really most surprising because Italy had a pretty weak group. In fact, I named it the weakest group when the groups were drawn, with Argentina’s second weakest. I don’t really see a reason to change my opinion. Italy wasn’t the best team four years ago and their luck ran out. They should have chosen American-but-plays-for-Italy Guiseppe Rossi, because he was the only creative option that Italy had. But they didn’t.

As I said, I still think Italy’s group was weakest, but call it increasing worldwide footballing parity as well as relative Italian weakness.

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3 Responses to This fulfills my duty to write about certain games

  1. Juan says:

    Well, now that the first round is over, it becomes clear that your analysis regarding African teams was, with all due respect, very poor. It was full of counterfactuals, excuses (“the coach”, “the group”) and wishful thinking. Sure, some countries DID have bad luck (Ivory Coast, but they played awfully against Brazil). But Cameroon being the second best team in the group? Give me a break. Clearly you didn’t watch Japan games. And if they technically are, then show it. This is not about what you (or me) believe, this is soccer. Go win.
    Then you have Algeria. Really nothing to add. I guess you watched the game against the US. They never attacked. Sure, their goalkeeper made a huge mistake against Slovenia. So what? If they had tied that game, nothing would have changed. They would have been the same awful and defense obsessed team.
    Nigeria? Another team that comes out as the worst in their group yet you think they were the second best. Bad luck? Well, maybe. All of us would love to be in a group with Honduras, North Korea and Australia. But these guys were in a group with South Korean and Greece! You really can’t win against these really below the mean teams? Then go home. Deservedly so.
    South Africa? They only had a chance because they were locals. They did pretty well, I must admit.
    So, in the end, business as usual: teams that underachieve. Which means, in other words, bad teams.

  2. yankinsa says:

    Hi Juan,

    Thanks for commenting. It doesn’t seem germane to me that group play is over, as we don’t have that much more evidence than we did before.

    I agree completely about Algeria. Everyone knew going in that they were Africa’s worst team (well, maybe S. Africa, but since hosts are given qualification, I’m not sure how fair that is), and I think I actually said that in my post.

    As you’re an Argentine, I would assume that you have watched enough football to know that the best football team doesn’t always win (eg champion Argentinos Juniors last year lost to a very mediocre Boca, for a local example). 3 games is a ridiculously small sample to judge a football team.

    As for Nigeria vs Korea…you are basing your argument that the best team in football always wins. A one game sample size. Yikes. I do tend to think that in the majority of games vs Greece, a Nigerian player does not self-destruct in the beginning of the game and get red-carded.

    In short, sir, I do not think you understand the nature of probability and randomness very well. It’s a common error, — especially in sport — which is why I chose to write on African teams in the first place.

  3. yankinsa says:

    One small note about Algeria…although they were very unimpressive against the US, they actually showed a little something against England. Who would’ve guessed that a team would play better against England than the US?

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