25 June 2010

World Cup 2010, Match Day 15

The last pair of groups finishes today.

Group G:

Brazil 5 +2
Portugal 5 0
Ivory Coast 3 0
People's Republic of [North] Korea 0 –2

after Brazil 0:0 Portugal and Ivory Coast 3:0 North Korea. This group was virtually locked in place before the matches; the only possible changes would have required either Portugal to defeat Brazil (which would only have changed seeding order for the round of sixteen) or a 9-goal differential swing between Ivory Coast defeating North Korea and Brazil defeating Portugal. That just wasn't going to happen. And the Brazil-Portugal match reflected it: Although neither team played particularly negatively, they both played safety-first and to avoid self-injury. That led to a few moments of individual skill, but little teamwork... and I don't find that all that entertaining. The referee remained largely anonymous, although he did a nice job on that early dive to keep things from getting out of control. B-/B-/A-

Group H:

Spain 6 +2
Chile 6 +1
Switzerland 4 0
Honduras 1 –3

after Chile 1:2 Spain and Honduras 0:0 Switzerland. I switched back and forth between these matches, so no grades. And it's a good thing: The "pragmatism" in the Chile : Spain match over the last ten minutes had some echoes of the 1982 Germany : Austria fiasco. Conversely, Switzerland's pathetic impotency in front of the Honduras goal meant that it was possible for Chile and Spain to just kick the ball around in midfield, as both were going through.

This leads to these round-of-sixteen matchups:

Brazil : Chile (28 June)

Spain : Portugal (29 June)

and a full single-elimination bracket that looks like this (pre-tournament FIFA rank in parentheses):

16 8 4 final 4 8 16
Uruguay (16)
South Korea (47)
              Argentina (7)
Mexico (17)
(14) US
Ghana (32)
              Germany (6)
England (8)
Netherlands (4)
Slovakia (34)
              Paraguay (31)
Japan (45)
Brazil (1)
Chile (18)
          Spain (2)
Portugal (3)

which exposes the FIFA rankings for the charade they are. Here's what happened by confederation:

Confederation Qualified Round of 16
Europe 13 6
South America 5 5
Africa 6 1
Asia 4 2
North/Central America 3 2
Oceania 1 0

So much for the inherent superiority of European national teams.