Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 World Cup, 1st Round Soccer vs Film & Predictions Review

First Round Comparison

9 countries advanced to both the soccer World Cup and movie tournament’s second round as all 8 groups provided atleast one common nation, with Group A being the only group that provided the same two nations.  Argentina, USA and Paraguay were the only three countries that topped both their soccer and movie groups.

Regional Comparison of the 16 Nations Advancing from the First Round

Soccer World Cup -- South America (5/5), Europe (6/13), North & Central America (2/3), Asia (2/3), Africa (1/6), Oceania (0/2).

Movie World Cup -- South America (3/5), Europe (7/13), North & Central America (3/3), Asia (2/3), Africa (1/6), Oceania (0/2).

It is quite remarkable that the regional representation is almost similar for both the soccer and film World Cups with the numbers for Asia, Africa and Oceania completely identical. In that sense, my film selections ended up being consistent with the different regional soccer team's performances. However, South American teams have stood out in the soccer World Cup with a brilliant performance as four of the five South American nations advanced in 1st place in their respective groups and Chile only gave up first place on the final day on goal-difference.

Predictions vs Actual Results in the Soccer World Cup

I correctly picked 12 out of 16 nations for my 2nd round picks. I clearly over-estimated Serbia's abilities while under-estimated South Korea, Ghana, Japan and Slovakia. Although I am still not convinced about Ghana because they failed to find the target from open play and had penalties to thank for their 2 strikes. One can argue that had Harry Kewell not used his arm then Ghana would have had a clear goal but Ghana owe a huge debt of gratitude for Zdravko Kuzmanovic’s gift of a handball. Serbia have only themselves to blame for their exit and their two needless handballs depicted the mental meltdown of their players. Vidic maybe reliable for Man Utd but he panicked against Germany and handled in a similar silly manner to Kuzmanovic.

Even though I didn't do too bad with my picks, I still got plenty of things wrong.

1) Group C

"Despite all their shortcomings, England will comfortably advance from this group along with USA."

Yes, both teams advanced but it was not very comfortable as England and USA needed 1-0 wins on the final day, with USA getting their winner in injury time.

"The big question will be whether the US can beat England to the group's #1 spot."

Yes this was answered as USA grabbed top spot but only on goal-difference. Prior to the World Cup, I thought that the only way the Americans could get top spot was if they beat England 2-1 otherwise if they only tied England 1-1, then they would finish in second place on goal difference because I expected England to beat Algeria 3-0 and Slovenia 2-0.

2) Group F

"I do not expect Italy to achieve anything and I am sure they will comply. It is hard to see this Italian team make it to the semi's but they have enough talent to win their group and advance to the next round."

Yes Italy did not achieve anything but instead of winning their easy group, they finished bottom.

"2nd spot will come down to Paraguay vs Slovakia with New Zealand finishing comfortably in 4th. For now, I am going to pick Paraguay to advance even though my instinct tells me Slovakia will go through."

Both Paraguay & Slovakia advanced but New Zealand finished impressively unbeaten in 3rd.

3) Group H

"Despite their injuries and possible fatigue, Spain should easily win the group. Chile had an excellent world cup campaign and should follow Spain out of this group. Ottmar Hitzfeld will ensure the Swiss put on a good display but Switzerland's style will be a complete contrast to Chile and Honduras."

Spain did win the group but it clearly was not a stroll.

Overall, I got the standings of all four teams correct for Group A, G and H but Group G & H were a bit easier to get right. I am most delighted with my group A predictions where I correctly picked the order of Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa and France. Most people I know expected France to not make it out of their group but quite a few of them expected South Africa to join Uruguay. I take pride in picking the game scores of the French games to be 0-0 with Uruguay, 0-2 Mexico and 0-1 South Africa. France lost 2-1 to South Africa but atleast I got 2 scores and goal difference correct for the French team. Ofcourse, with Raymond Domenech in charge, failure was the only option available for the French. The only reason that Domenech didn't fail miserably in 2006 was Zinedine Zidane.

Second Round

The only match-up similar in the second round of the soccer and movie world cup is Spain vs Portugal. In the movie world cup, Pedro Costa’s beautiful film narrowly advanced over Victor Erice’s feature but it is hard to see the Portuguese soccer team beat out a Xavi-Iniesta-David Villa powered Spanish team.

Still, good football awaits this weekend. Hopefully there will be goals.

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