Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Who Will Win the World Cup?

Note: click here for my informal USA-Belgium review.

Someone will win the World Cup. It’s a fact. Someone will have to win it. You probably knew that. But in case you didn’t, it’s a fact. Though the soccer-haters criticize the sport for being communist where there is almost never a winner and winning is punished by having to spend time cleaning bird waste off the statue of Karl Marx that sits outside Wembley Stadium, none of that is actually true. Soccer is a sport like any other (only better) and someone will lift the trophy in less than two weeks’ time.

Let’s analyze the eight countries still alive in the competition, and why they will or won’t win the World Cup:

Brazil

Why they will win: they’re at home…they have Neymar…they have some other fairly good players.

Why they won’t win: they’re not as good, talent-wise, as other teams…there’s too much pressure…they’re one-dimensional (it’s Neymar or Fred nothing).

Colombia

Why they will win: James…confidence…local fan support without nearly the pressure of Brazil and the like.

Why they won’t win: they play Brazil next…they lack quality outside of James and a few others…this is as far as the nation as ever gotten in a World Cup; they’re probably getting a nosebleed.

France

Why they will win: they’ve looked great in their games so far…they’ve made the final in every other World Cup for my entire life.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…they play Germany next…remember 2010?

Germany

Why they will win: they’re probably the best team in the world…they’re due winning something…Lahm was forced to play at full-back last game; move him to left-back and it’s a team with no weaknesses.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…after France they have Brazil or Colombia…someone will figure out that 4-3-3-0 at some point.

Netherlands

Why they will win: they have good players…Van Gaal is leaving, he wants to do good for them, they want to do good for him (Ray Lewis Effect).

Why they won’t win: they never do.

Costa Rica

Why they will win: they have momentum…they have no pressure whatsoever…CONCACAF goalkeepers have done great in this World Cup; Keylor Navas is the last one standing.

Why they won’t win: not enough talent to compete with the big boys; all of their wins have either came against a team lacking their best player, a team that just played in Manaus, or Greece.

Argentina

Why they will win: Messi…Messi…Messi.

Why they won’t win: very, very one-dimensional…no defense.

Belgium

Why they will win: loads of super-talented players who have never yet lost a World Cup game.

Why they won’t win: it’s in the Americas…very little World Cup experience.

 

I will genuinely be surprised to see anyone win this World Cup. I mean, I know that someone has to, but it seems so unlikely for any of these teams to win.

I mean, if Brazil wins it they’ll totally revise history and say “from start to finish we all knew they would win; they dominated; oh, how boring!” and if Germany wins they’ll say “yeah, we knew that they were the best. Brazil? Ha!” and if Argentina wins they’ll say “of course; the team with the best player wins, especially with that talent around him.” But we’ll know the truth. Don’t you all just love parity? MLS has more parity than any other sports league that I know of. And I’ll talk a lot about MLS here after the World Cup (actually, I might start on it next week).

Predictions for today:

France 0-2 Germany

Brazil 1-2 Colombia

 

Any thoughts? Questions? Requests? Threats? Predictions of your own? Respectfully add them in the comments below. Hopefully I’ll get back with a report tonight.

Monday/Tuesday Thoughts

Here is what’s going through my mind: World Cup wise. Key topics are bolded. Let’s start with the headliner:

LUIS SUAREZ BIT SOMEONE!!! AGAIN!!! This is absurd. What in the world would compel someone to bite a person? And then suffer the consequences…only to bite a person again? And then to suffer worse consequences (worse because England)…seem to sincerely regret his decision…rebuild his reputation by having a legendary season…only to bite a person FOR THE THIRD TIME!?!?!?

-Something has to be wrong with him mentally. I’m not saying that he’s stupid or even mentally challenged, really, but that there is something about the way that his brain functions that other brains don’t function that way. Something in his mind that for some weird reason tells him to bite another human being, despite past experiences, logic, and common rules of etiquette saying otherwise.

-What is the source of his success is the source of his shortcomings. He’s too competitive for his own good. He’s a player who is a joy to watch 97% of the time unless you are a fan of the team he’s playing against. He’s one of the top 5 attacking players in the world. Not only is he a wonderful goal-scorer, but he’s a team player; he scored 12 assists in the Premier League last year, trailing only his Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard.

-He shouldn’t be banned for life or anything like that. A hefty suspension, yes, but going overboard is silly. They should slap a hefty suspension and a hefty fine on him, which obviously includes him being out of the rest of the World Cup, and then make sure that he sees a psychiatrist of some sort. For 97% of the time he’s playing he’s entertaining, and for probably about 98% of the time he’s living he’s a good person. But when he’s playing, sometimes his competitiveness gets too much for him to handle.

-He’s actually said that he’s like a different person when he’s playing soccer. Part of that is the Latin American (especially Uruguayan) culture, where winning at all costs is considered an admirable trait, but part of that is just him. He goes all out. Oh, and for whatever reason his go-to reaction is to bite someone. I really don’t understand it. It doesn’t make him an evil person, however, just one who has serious problems.

-The Netherlands are second to last in possession, with 39.5% (Iran is last). No one has scored more goals than them, although France may equal their mark of 10. As I always like to say, possession is not a measure of how good a team is but rather a measure of how good it plays. The Dutch went undefeated in a very hard group, which included beating reigning champions Spain 5-1, beating a surprisingly good Australia side 3-2 (that Tim Cahill goal was m-a-g-i-c), and then efficiently beating Chile 2-0. They’ve been killing teams on the counter, and it’s working. Can Rafa Marquez and Maza Rodriguez keep up with the speed of Arjen Robben? Is there anything that can stop this Dutch team?

Miguel Herrera is great. After each Mexico goal he was going crazy. No, literally, going crazy.

-Do you know who is leading the World Cup in scoring goals? Neymar. Yes, that’s right. He’s had the weight of a country on his shoulders, and he’s capitalized. The 22-year-old also had the weight of the country on his shoulders in the Confederations Cup last year. He was named that tournament’s best player. Does this guy even feel pressure?

Diego Godin’s Head should win the Ballon d’Or this year. His Head scored the equalizer in the final game of La Liga, which propelled Atletico Madrid to historically win the title; his Head scored the opening goal in the Champions League final, which would’ve been the winner if it wasn’t for Sergio Ramos; and his Head also scored the goal that got Uruguay out of the group stage in this World Cup. Wow.

COSTA RICA WON GROUP D!!!!!!!! EVERYONE ELSE LOST!!!!!!

-Seriously though, Italy and England both got knocked out, while Costa Rica won the group. UEFA have more losses than wins, while CONCACAF have 5 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. Undefeated not counting Honduras, who have very little World Cup experience.

-I’ll mention the players who have most likely finished their last World Cups. On Tuesday alone, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and maybe Yaya Toure all played in their last World Cup games, and on Monday David Villa, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, and Samuel Eto’o ended their own World Cup careers. These are greats of the game. Fortunately they’ll still play at club level. Might I add that one of them (Villa) plays in MLS, and most of the others have been rumored to come to MLS? Just something to think about.

Wednesday Picks:

Argentina 2-0 Nigeria – At some point this Argentine attack has to gel, right? And if not, Messi will still probably bail them out.

Bosnia 1-0 Iran – I still can’t believe that those refs made those calls against Bosnia. Terrible, terrible calls. Even if you think that Emineke didn’t foul Spahic, that Dzeko goal was clearly onside.

Honduras 2-1 Switzerland – Upset alert! It’s the alpine nation of Switzerland vs. the Central American nation of Honduras. In Manaus, in the Amazon Rainforest. Doesn’t sound like much of an upset now, eh?

Ecuador 0-2 France – Les Blues might go far in this tournament. Then again, they may not. Unless the Argentines just collapse, they’ll face either Nigeria or Iran in the Round of 16. No offense, but those aren’t the hardest opponents in the world.

 

My next post will be my preview of the United States vs. Germany. Stay tuned.

Friday Thoughts (Brief)

This will be super-short because I’m working on the USA-Portugal preview. Go:

-France just completely thrashed Switzerland for 80 minutes. I guess they kind of turned off, and that was how the Swiss got back their two goals. Can France win the World Cup? That’s a real question. We won’t know until they play better teams. Bosnia’s good enough right? And if they beat Bosnia and you still aren’t amazed, the likely quarterfinal opponent is Germany. You can’t win the World Cup without playing some good teams, so an easy draw can only get you so far. We will learn how good France and the Netherlands really are long before they’re in view of the trophy.

-Honduras now has a very small chance to advance, since they lost to Ecuador. However, Ecuador have a pretty good chance now, and they’re basically up against Switzerland, although they don’t play each other. Might I add that these three countries would have much less chance to advance in any other group, while in any other group I doubt that France would be so dominant. However, speculating on non-existent scenarios is stupid, so I’ll stop. We won’t know how good they really are until they play opposition that we also know is good. Did I mention that Argentina is the likely opponent for the Group E runners-up?

-COSTA RICA!!!!! How in the world did that happen? Well, I can actually tell you: they defend as a team, and they attack as a team. Obviously they got help because they played Uruguay without Suarez, and they played Italy after their Manaus game, but still, Costa Rica have played very, very well. Italy’s two best players, at least going forward, are Pirlo and Balotelli. If you can shut them down, you’ve basically kept yourselves from losing. If you can also be dangerous going forward, then you’re probably going to win. That’s what Costa Rica did. And that’s why, in the first ever group with 3 different World Cup champions, the first team out is one that’s never made the quarterfinals. What a World Cup from Costa Rica.

-Is anyone excited to see what Messi and Argentina can do against a bad team? Iran are not to be under-estimated defensively, but I doubt that they can slow down Argentina like Bosnia did. Speaking of which, is anyone excited to see the Edin Dzeko led Bosnian attack in all their glory? As I said, Iran have a fairly good defense, but that’s not Nigeria’s strong-suit. While goalkeeper Vincent Enyema might be good, he’ll be forced into making tons of saves if the Super Eagles are to contain Bosnia.

-Boateng vs. Boateng. With Hummels out, how will Germany line up against the Black Stars? Will Ghana salvage their World Cup hopes after going down to the mighty, well, passable US?

-Oh, and a note: the reason that the US didn’t dispatch Ghana so easily was because Michael Bradley, our best outfielder, decided to get all of his bad play out of the way in one game. Ballon d’Or stuff from here on out, everyone.

That’s it.

I said it was super-short. If you really want more of me, check out the “World Cup” page. I’ve got some good stuff in there that you may have missed.

Any special requests for the USA-Portugal game? Or any articles that I do for the rest of the group stage? That’s what I’m here for.

Saturday Review + Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Hello, everyone! I’ve been writing about the World Cup. All of my articles about the tournament are displayed quite nicely in the tab that says “World Cup.”

A few quick points:

-Costa Rica beat Uruguay. Hurray for CONCACAF! MLS referee Mark Geiger did well refereeing the Colombia-Greece game. Hurray for MLS!

-I wrote a piece about Mario Balotelli. Mario Balotelli scored. I should quickly write about American players before Monday.

-I almost wrote about Wayne Rooney. But I didn’t. Sorry, England. My bad.

-You’re welcome, Italy.

-Uruguay vs. England will basically be an elimination game. If Uruguay lose, they won’t have a chance. Just like that. I won’t go into the details of why, but if England lose and Italy fails to beat Costa Rica, the Three Lions would be mathematically eliminated. If Uruguay and Italy both win, England would need to beat Costa Rica, and Italy would need to beat Uruguay, and even then it comes down to three-way goal difference.

-Group D is incredible, by the way. Three really good teams. And England.

Enough of that useless drivel. It’s time for more useless drivel! But this time with numbers!

Totally Inaccurate Power Rankings

Past rankings in brackets.

1(1)-Brazil

2(3)-Germany

3(4)-Argentina

4(5)-Italy

Yeah, maybe 5 was a bit generous, and maybe 4 still is, but with losses to their two closest group-winning rivals (sorry, Costa Rica) they seem likely to win Group D, which mean an easy route to at least the quarters.

5(2)-Spain

They got demolished. But they’re still Spain. Chile certainly have flaws, and if Vicente Del Bosque can get his team straightened out, they can surely have a chance in their final game vs. Australia.

6(10)-Netherlands

After seeing them crush the reigning champions, I think that they might have a shot to win it. Then again, not every opponent will have world-renowned comedy duo Pique and Ramos doing their sketch where they pretend to be centerbacks (I love that one–almost as good as the one where they went camping).

7(7)-Belgium

8(11)-Colombia

They won 3-0 against the last non-Spain team to win the European Championship. That sounds less impressive when you realize that the team that they beat is Greece, but it’s still something.

9(9)-Chile

They should’ve done better against Australia, but a win is a win and I’m not breaking my rules again.

10(8)-Portugal

11(12)-Bosnia-H

12(6)-Uruguay

Uruguay seriously lost against Costa Rica? By multiple goals?

13(13)-Croatia

14(14)-England

They lost against a superior team. Nothing to make me change their position.

15(15)-France

16(20)-Mexico

They beat a team they were supposed to beat. But they did it well (it totally should’ve been 3-0, the ref hates Giovani Dos Santos) and they proved that they aren’t–at least not completely–2013 Mexico.

17(16)-Ghana

18(17)-USA

19(18)-Russia

20(19)-Switzerland

21(21)-Ivory Coast

Les Elephants beat Japan, but according to my ranking, they were supposed to do that anyways. I guess. They’ll move higher if the teams above them do poorly.

22(28)-Costa Rica

Costa Rica beat Uruguay! I have them so low because I’m sure if it will last (they’ll get another big jump if they can get a result against Italy) but a CONCACAF team is winning in a group with the reigning Euro runners-up, the reigning Copa America champions, and the people who made the sport!

23(22)-Nigeria

24(23)-Ecuador

25(25)-Korea

26(24)-Greece

They lost against a team whose big star can’t even pronounce his own name.

27(26)-Japan

That Keisuke Honda goal was nice, eh? I wish it would’ve stayed that way, because “Honda Gets Japan Out of the Garage” is a great headline.

28(27)-Cameroon

Did anyone expect them to do any better than that?

29(29)-Honduras

30(30)-Australia

Chile is a very good team, and they made them work hard for a win.

31(31)-Iran

32(32)-Algeria

 

That’s it! And yeah, my power rankings are seriously inconsistent and basically just terrible. But I kind of warn you by saying “Totally Inaccurate.” I’m not being sarcastic. Power rankings in general are very silly looking, because there are no default criteria for something as vague as “power rankings.”

(Note: while re-reading that, I felt weird by saying “are” and then not saying a word that ended in “s.” And then I thought about how much I hate the word “criteria” because it’s plural in its most common form, yet it doesn’t end with the letter “s.” And then I realized how much I love the word “criteria,” for no real reason. I spent so much time thinking about “criteria,” and thus saying “criteria” in my head, so now it doesn’t sound like a word. Criteria? Is that contagious? Is that near Chicago? I think you mean “Arjen Robben.”)

Anyways, if you need me, I’ll be locked in my closet, not coming out until I make a full-length preview on Ghana-USA.