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World Cup 2018

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:33 am
by eujin
It's less than 100 days to go now.

The Korean team are in a tough group F with Germany, Sweden and Mexico. If by some miracle they mange to get out of that group, they might end up facing Brazil in the round of 32. Apparently the Korean team will be basing themselves in Saint Petersburg, although not actually playing there.

Fun fact: none of the world's top five most populous countries managed to qualify for the people's game big show in the world's largest country.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:54 am
by Rothesay Saint
Less than 100 Days to go? No wonder people are already panicking about injuries to Neymar, Kane and others.

Hopefully Harry Kane makes a full recovery in time for the tournament, if only so that I can spend the entire month calling England ‘that Harry Kane country’

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:15 pm
by MipoFanatic
eujin wrote:Fun fact: none of the world's top five most populous countries managed to qualify for the people's game big show in the world's largest country.

Isn't Brazil fifth for population? According to this list, only two of the top eight countries (Brazil and Nigeria) qualified.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:12 pm
by eujin
MipoFanatic wrote:Isn't Brazil fifth for population? According to this list, only two of the top eight countries (Brazil and Nigeria) qualified.

Brazil is pretty close to being in the top five. I was going by this list on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... population, which puts Pakistan ahead by 2 million based on March 2018 national governmental estimates. I thought March 2018 sounded recent enough and I'm guessing the population is growing faster in Pakistan than in Brazil, although that could be wrong.

Another fun fact is that four defending continental champions failed to qualify. USA in CONCACAF, Chile in CONMEBOL, Cameroon in CAF and New Zealand in the OFC (no OFC team qualified). Only Portugal and somewhere that's not really in Asia made it.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:52 pm
by eujin
With the World Cup in Russia shaping up to be one of the most controversial in a long time, I have delved into the extensive ROKfootball archives to bring you some of the most outrageous episodes from World Cup history. From corruption to bribery, to match-fixing, bad referees, fights, boycotts, interfering sponsors, doping, jingoistic journalism, disputes over hosting, unfinished stadia, overpaid mercenaries, state propaganda and yes wars, it's all there. Humanity runs in the veins of football just as much as football runs in the veins of humanity.

1930, Hosts Uruguay, Winner: Uruguay
FIFA change qualifying rules: No European teams had agreed to travel to the World Cup by the time FIFA's deadline for accepting invitations had passed, so FIFA changed the rules and extended the deadline. In the end, FIFA managed to find only four European teams willing to make the journey. The Romanians allegedly had their entire team selected by the Romanian King. The Croatians boycotted the Yugoslav team which ended up being composed only of Serbs. The Egyptian team, who were supposed to meet up with the Yugoslavian team in Geona for the trip across the Atlantic, failed to make it across the Mediterranean. The French, Belgian and Romanian teams travelled together on the same boat and practised on deck during the trip until they ran out of balls that were kicked into the sea.
Balls from the final: The two final teams, Argentina and Uruguay couldn’t agree on which ball to use for the final, so a different ball was used in each half. Argentina won the first half 2-1 with their ball which is now on display in Madrid. The Uruguayan ball from the second half is now in the National Football Museum in Manchester, England.
Shock: The US made it to the semi-finals, although this must have been a disappointment for the New York Times who had declared them favourites despite them being obliterated at both the 1928 and 1924 Olympic tournaments (both of which were won by hosts Uruguay). USA did beat Belgium 3-0, which is curiously also the last ever team the USA played at the World Cup, marking 88 years of contrasting football development in the two countries.
Venues: Uruguay secured the rights to host the first World Cup by having one of the best teams in the world and promising to build a new stadium for the tournament, the Estadio Centenario, which was not finished until 5 days into the tournament. Earlier matches needed to be hosted in other smaller stadiums in Montevideo. The match that saw the first ever World Cup goal, France vs Mexico, was scored in the smallest stadium to host a World Cup match, the Estadio Pocitos, Spanish for “stadium of the little ones” with an official capacity of 1000 (FIFA gives the attendance at this match as 4444). It was snowing at the kickoff and France played most of the match with their halfback in goal after their goalkeeper had to go off with a concussion in the 26th minute.

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1934, Hosts: Italy, Winner: Italy
Mussolini: Like the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Italian fascist dictator Mussolini used the 1934 tournament as a propaganda tool. The Italians stopped at nothing to win. During their quarter-final replay with Spain, three Spanish players had to leave the field due to injuries inflicted by the Italians and Spain had two goals disallowed, one for a free-kick to Spain. The winning goal was scored by Meazza, allegedly while Italian Demaria was obstructing the back-up Spanish goalkeeper.
Defending champions refuse to travel: In protest at most Europeans (and particularly Italy) refusing to travel to Uruguay in 1930, defending champions Uruguay refused to travel to Italy, which is thus the only tournament where the champions have not been present to defend their crown. Both Brazil and Argentina made the long journey from South America and were eliminated in the first round. This is also the only tournament where the hosts had to qualify, which Italy did by beating Greece 4-0. Mexico travelled all the way to Italy for a qualification match, which they lost 4-2 to the USA.
Oriundi: The Italian team featured several players who were Argentinan by birth but had Italian ancestry. Luis Monti played in the final in 1930 for Argentina and allegedly on a salary of $5000 per month) in the final in 1934 for Italy – the only player to do so. Enrique Guaita, scorer of the semi-final goal against Austria, returned to play for Argentina again after the World Cup.
Shock: Only European teams in the quarter-finals – the only time this has ever happened.
Venues: The fascist government in Italy built a number of stadiums that were used in 1934 and are still with us. The San Siro in Milan, the now Olympic Stadium in Turin, (then Stadio Benito Mussolini) the now Artemio Franchi in Florence (shaped like a D, allegedly for Duce) and the Renato dall’Ara in Bologna. Allegedly 7,000 Dutch fans travelled to the San Siro to see their team lose 3-2 to Switzerland in the first round. The final was played at the delightfully named National Stadium of the Fascist Party. The stadium was demolished after the war, unlike the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which complete with Nazi statues, was used for the 2006 final.

1938, Hosts: France, Winner: Italy
Italian salute: Against hosts France in the quarter-finals the defending champions Italy played in their change strip of black shirts, the same colour as Mussolini's fascist mobs. During the introductions, the Italian players were told by Mussolini to hold the fascist salute until the booing, mainly by exiled Italians, died down. Allegedly, the Hungarians let the Italians win the final, believing that Mussolini would've executed them otherwise.
Anschluss: Austria qualified by beating Latvia but subsequently “unified” with Germany and so withdrew. FIFA offered the empty spot to England but they refused. Latvia were not asked and Sweden, who would have been Austria’s opponents in the first round, got a bye into the second round.
Shock: Germany eliminated by Switzerland in the first round. German coach Sepp Herberger (who led them to the title in 1954) blames the Austrian players on the team, included at the last minute after political pressure from Berlin. Brazil rested their star player Leonidas for the semi-final which they lost to Italy. He still went on to win the golden boot and was chosen by FIFA as player of the tournament.

1950, Hosts: Brazil, Winner: Uruguay
Withdrawls: Although qualifying, Scotland decided that if they couldn't be British Champions there was no point in being World Champions. India qualified thanks to all the other Asian teams pulling out, but in the end declined to participate. Syria played in the European qualification tournament but withdrew after losing 7-0 to Turkey. Turkey then also withdrew, meaning that Group 4 at the finals consisted of a single game between Bolivia and eventual winners Uruguay.
Shocks: USA beat England 1-0 in England’s second ever World Cup match. In the final match Uruguay beat heavy favourites Brazil 2-1. t take the title in front of a record home crowd of approximately 200,000. Brazil was so traumatised by this result that they held a competition to redesign their national shirts which was was won by a design with yellow shirts and blue shorts.
Venues: The Maracana in Rio was constructed for the finals but was not finished by the opening game. Photos of the match show scaffolding still holding up parts of the stadium. Brazil proposed holding group matches instead of the usual staright knock-out matches to increase the number of matches partially recover the cost of building the stadiums. FIFA were initially against this idea, but backed down after Brazil threatened to withdraw from hosting. Brazil built a total of five new stadiums for the World Cup in 1950. Only the Maracana was reused when they hosted again in 2014.

1954, Hosts: Switzerland, Winner: West Germany
Battle of Berne: The anticipated quarter-final between two very good sides, Hungary and Brazil, descended into farce with three sendings off after multiple punch-ups. The Brazilian fans invaded the pitch and the fighting continued afterwards in the dressing rooms. The referee by the way, was English.
Final: West Germany vs Hungary Germany eeked out a 3-2 win over the legendary Hungarian team on a very heavy rain-soaken pitch having already lost 8-3 to the same side during the group matches. Some dodgey refereeing decisions, including an equalising Puskas goal that was ruled out for offside (the referee was English) and rumours of German cheating. Puskas claimed afterwards that the Germans had been doped, most of the German team mysteriously feel ill after the game and in 2004 an attendant at the Wankdorf stadium claimed that he had found syringes in the German dressing room after the game. The German team doctor subsequently admitted injecting the players, "but only with vitamin C, to help their nerves".
Shock: West Germany win and end Hungary’s four year unbeaten run.

1958, Hosts: Sweden, Winner Brazil
FIFA change qualifying rules: Israel qualified automatically for the finals in Sweden after all the teams they were drawn to play against withdrew. FIFA then hurriedly changed the rules and made them play already eliminated Wales, saying that a team couldn't qualify without playing a game, despite the fact that similar things had happened earlier with, for example, the Dutch East Indies in 1938. Wales won the playoff and went to their only World Cup appearance.
Skandalspiel von Göteborg: In a match that remains controversial in Germany, defending champions Germany faced hosts Sweden in the semi-final. The Germans were heavy favourites but complained bitterly about the choice of a Hungarian referee after the events in the final four years earlier. Both countries media got into the jingoistic spirit in the lead-up to the match, with the Swedish press taking every opportunity to remind the Germans about the war that had finished only 13 years earlier (in which Sweden remained neutral) and the German press repeatedly questioned the morality of the Swedish players playing abroad in Italy, which at the time was highly unusual. The match was moved at the last minute from Stockholm to Gothenburg complicating the Germans travel plans and very few tickets were allocated to the large number of travelling German fans, requiring FIFA and the German embassy to step in. The Germans took an early lead but the Swedes, employing cheerleaders with megaphones to spur the crowd on, came back to win 3-1. The Germans ended the match with only nine players after Juskowiak was sent off for stamping on Hamrin and legendary German captain Fritz Walter had to leave with a career-ending ankle injury from a Swedish tackle. After the match anger simmered on, especially in Germany with attacks on Swedish tourists, restaurants taking Swedish dishes off the menu and banning Swedish customers. The president of the German FA promised: we will never agree to play against Sweden again. Germany and Sweden have been drawn together in Korea’s Group F at the 2018 World Cup.
Shock; Hosts Sweden in the final
Venues: It was planned to hold matches in Copenhagen if Denmark qualified (they didn’t). The organising committee chairman mortgaged his house to pay for extending the Solna stadium, venue of the final.

1962, Hosts: Chile, Winner: Brazil
Battle of Santiago: In a Group 2 match hosts Chile beat Italy 2-0 in a match that effectively eliminated Italy and has gone down in history as one of the most brutal at a World Cup. Italian journalists covering the tournament had already been forced to flee the country for describing Santiago as a dump full of prostitutes. In the match, two Italians were sent off, Mario David for kicking Leonel Sanchez in the head. Humberto Maschio’s nose was broken by a punch from the same Sanchez, and the teams traded insults and spitting as the match went on. The police had to come on and drag off Giorgio Ferrini after he refused to leave the pitch on being sent off by yet another English referee, the first of four police interventions during the match. TV anchor David Coleman called it "the most stupid, appalling, dis-gusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game." Referee Ken Ashton would later go on to design red and yellow cards while stopped at traffic lights on Kensington High Street.
Shock: Chile came third, and their presence in the semi-finals prompted a last minute switch of venues. Garrincha was sent off for Brazil in the semi-final against Chile.
Venues: Chile was hit by the largest earthquake ever recorded two years before the tournament which forced a complete rethink of the hosting arrangements. Ethiopia were included in the European qualifiers although there were also African qualifiers that featured 6 teams.

1966, Hosts: England, Winner: England
Jules Rimet Trophy stolen: The World Cup came to football's birthplace for the first time and the trophy was promptly stolen. The trophy was eventually found by the dog Pickles. The old Jules Rimet trophy was again stolen in 1983 in Rio and has not been seen since.
Foreign Office and DPRK The United Kingdom did not recognise the DPRK at the time and the British Foreign Office didn't want to change this by recognising their football team. The British threatened to deny the Koreans visas, delayed granting them visas, had commemorative stamps changed for displaying the DPRK flag and much to the annoyance of the Koreans insisted on calling them "North Korea" instead of the DPRK. They also refused to play their national anthem, managing a deal with FIFA where anthems would only be played at the opening game (not involving the DPRK) and the final.
Rattin and the European stitch-up: The South Americans were convinced that the Europeans rigged the 1966 finals to stop a South American team winning again. Pele was repeatedly fouled by Morais in Brazil's group game with Portugal and eventually had to be carried off but (yet another) English referee took no action. The English organisers told the Argentinian and Uruguayan representatives the wrong starting time for the meeting that would decide the referees for the quarter-finals and they turned up late, missing the decision. It ended up with a German referee for England's game with Argentina and an English ref for West Germany's game with Uruguay. The English ref sent off two Uruguayans in their game against West Germany, a Schnellinger handball on the line in the 8th minute ignored by the ref. In the England - Argentina game, Argentinian captain Rattin was sent off while supposedly indicating to the ref that he was the captain and wanted a translator to complain about excessive English fouling. Rattin refused to leave the pitch and had to be escorted away by the police. England coach Alf Ramsey stopped his players from exchanging shirts with the Argentinians at the end and said afterwards "Our best football will come against the right type of opposition, a team who come to play football, and not act as animals.” England commited 33 fouls in the match compared to Argentina's 19.
Russian linesmen and some people on the pitch: The England-West Germany final ended 2-2 after 90 minutes. In extra time Geoff Hurst's close range shot hit the bar and bounced "near' the line. The Russian linesman (who was actually Azeri, Tofik Bachramow, the national stadium in Baku is named after him) gave the goal although video evidence shows clearly the ball was nowhere near over the line. On his death bed, when asked how he could be so sure the ball had crossed the line, the linesman allegedly responded "Stalingrad". The fourth goal of England's 4-2 victory came as the Germans were pushing up for an equaliser. The most famous piece of commentary in English football history testifies to the fact that the English organisers had failed to stop people storming the pitch as he was heading towards goal. Cue Kenneth Wolstenholme...
Shock: North Korea eliminated Italy by beating them 1-0 and qualified for the quarter-finals
Venues: Wembley’s owners refused to cancel regular greyhound racing during the tournament, so the group match between France and Uruguay had to be held at the White City Stadium instead. White City Stadium was more commonly known for its greyhound racing.

1970, Hosts: Mexico, Winner: Brazil
Football War: For some reason CONCACAF decided to stage a number of two-team qualification groups in the latter stages of their qualification tournament, the first to be hosted by a CONCACAF nation. In one of these groups El Salvador faced Honduras. El Salvador lost the first match away 1-0 after a sleepless night to a goal in injury time. One Salvadoran fan, an 18-year woman called Amelia Bolanios was so distraught she shot herself and was given a state funeral with the President and cabinet walking behind her coffin. The return match in San Salvador was won 3-0 by the hosts after the Honduran team needed to be escorted to and from the stadium in armoured cars of the army and their hotel was set on fire. Since there was no provision for aggregate scores, a decider was arranged for a neutral venue, Mexico City which El Salvador won 3-2 in extra time. This didn’t stop El Salvador launching an invasion of Honduras, accusing the Honduran’s of genocide for forcibly evicting Salvadoran immigrants from their land. Over 3000 people died in the fighting and although a ceasefire was arranged and peace treaty signed in 1980, the border dispute is still unresolved. In the finals, El Salvador were drawn against fellow Central Americans and hosts Mexico. During their group match Egyptian referee Ali Hussein Kandil awarded a freekick for El Salvador. This was taken by Mexico’s Mario Perez and led to the opening goal. Despite Salvadoran protests, in what was probably the most bizarre referee decision in World Cup history, the goal was awarded.
Bobby Moore: England captain Bobby Moore was arrested for allegedly stealing a bracelet and held under house arrest for four days in Colombia prior to England's defence of their title. He was later released without charge and it is rumoured that everyone in Colombia knew he was innocent all along. Gordon Banks was allegedly poisoned before the quarter-final against Germany. His replacement, Bonetti let in a sitter as Germany came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Shock: None, Brazil won all their matches including all their qualifiers. The winning Brazilian team is widely regarded as the best World Cup team ever and the tournament with its free flowing attacking football and exciting matches the best ever. Pele was at the height of his ability, Jairzinho scored in every match, Gordon Banks made his greatest save and the semi-final between West Germany and Italy is known as the Match of the Century.

1974, Hosts: West Germany, Winner: West Germany
West Germany vs Holland: The final kicked off late after the Germans mysteriously forgot the corner flags. Yet another English referee decided the game by giving a harsh penalty against the Dutch after Hoelzenbein, a notorious diver in the Bundesliga, had been hit by an anti-tank missile at about waist height. Franz Beckenbauer is alleged to have primed the ref for this decision after the first penalty (against Germany) by complaining to the ref "you are an Englishman".
Shock: East Germany beat hosts West Germany 1-0 with a goal by cult-hero Juergen Sparwasser

1978, Hosts: Argentina, Winner: Argentina
Willie Johnston: Scotland's left-winger was sent home after failing a drugs test for Femcamfamin after the Peru game. Willie protested his innocence but the SFA chose not to back him. 1977 Qualifier Wales vs Scotland 78th min handball by Joe Jordan gets penalty for Scotland, more Scots than Welsh fans at match at Anfield after trouble at Ninian Park the year before “we won hand over fist”
Argentina vs Peru: Argentina needed to win by four goals to make the final. They won 6-0 after Peru and especially their goalkeeper, Quiroga, had a shocker. Claims that the Argentian military dictatorship had paid off the Peruvians remain to this day. Quiroga was born in Argentina.
Time’s up: Welsh referee Clive Thomas blew for full time in the group match between Sweden and Brazil just as Zico was heading the ball into the net from a corner with what would have been the winning goal. The Brazilians were not happy but the result 1-1 stood.
Shock: Tunisia became the first African side to win a match at the finals, beating Mexico 3-1

1982, Hosts: Spain, Winner: Brazil
West Germany vs Austria: Algeria had beaten West Germany in the group 2-1, but in the final group game between West Germany and "arch rivals" Austria, a 1-0 win for the Germans would put both teams through at the expense of the Algerians. After 10 minutes the Germans scored and then both teams spent the remaining 80 minutes passing the ball around amongst themselves. The Algerians protested this "fix" but FIFA allowed the result to stand.
Kuwait vs France: Kuwait were losing 3-1 to France in this group 4 game when the Kuwaiti players "stopped after hearing a whistle" and allowed the French to score. The ref (not English because England were in the same group) gave the goal but after the president of the Kuwaiti FA stormed on to the pitch and threatened to take the players off, the referee changed his mind and annulled the goal.
Spain vs Northern Ireland: The mighty Northern Irish only managed to beat the minnows of Spain 1-0 in Spain. That this game was subsequently labeled an upset is a scandal of epic proportions.
Schumacher on Battiston: In the semi-final German goalkeeper Schumacher, with French defender Battiston bearing down on goal, made no attempt to play the ball and instead took out Battiston, knocking him out and breaking two of his teeth. The (Dutch) referee awarded a goal kick. Schumacher went on to make two decisive saves in the penalty shoot-out. Possibly the most brutal foul in football let alone World Cup football, with the exception of Boris Johnson's rugby tackle.
Shock: Italy win the title despite not winning any group matches. The only team to beat Italy was Denmark in qualification.

1986, Hosts: Mexcio, Winner: Argentina
Hand of God: Maradona scored with his hand against England in the quarter-final. Everyone saw it except the ref. Coming only four years after the Falklands war between the UK and Argentina, which Nobel Prize winning Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges had described as two bald men fighting over a comb , Maradona claimed after the match that it was "the hand of God".
Shock: Morocco win their group

1990, Hosts: Italy, Winner: West Germany
Final farce: Two Argentinians were sent off, including the first ever sending off in a final. Klinsmann tried to launch himself into orbit and West Germany won with a penalty in the 85th minute after Voeller fell over. Argentina were clearly playing for penalties, a tactic that had served them well in earlier rounds. I remember at the time thinking the ref could send the entire Argentinian team off and abandon the game and it was Maradona, of all people, trying to calm his team mates down. One of the Argentinians ran in to the referee's back, normally a straight red, but he got away with it.
Shock: Cameroun in the quarter-finals

1994, Hosts; USA, Winner: Brazil
Maradona on ephedrine: Maradona was high to the hills and it didn't need a drugs test as it was obvious to the whole TV audience when he celebrated his goal against Greece. D10s indeed.
Andres Escobar: The Colombian defender was shot dead on his return to Colombia outside a bar after his own goal for the US helped eliminate Colombia who had been Pele’s pre-tournament favourites.
Shock: Bulgaria knock out Germany in the quarter-finals.
Venues: The first ever indoor World Cup match was played between USA and Switzerland in Detroit/Pontiac. World Cup with the highest ever attendance 3.6 million for an average of 69,000 per match. Group E finished with all teams level on points and goal difference, the only time that has happened.

1998, Hosts: France, Winner:France
Ronaldo in the final: Star Brazilian Ronaldo was announced out of the line-up an hour before the game, then back in the line-up half an hour later and played a poor game. It was later revealed that he had had a fit the night before the game and had been taken to hospital. Rumours that sponsors Nike had insisted he play despite this were denied by Ronaldo in evidence he gave to the Brazilian Congress in 2001.
Shock: Croatia third

2002, Hosts: Korea and Japan, Winner: Brazil
Co-hosting: FIFA decided that Korea and Japan, the only two applicants, should co-host the 2002 World Cup. This led to endless arguments between the two countries about whose name should come first on merchandise, what the names of the mascots should be and whether Korea was more prone to an attack by North Korea than Japan was to earthquakes and religious nutters. Vast amounts of money were wasted on stadiums and infrastructure as the two countries tried to outdo one another. The Emperor of Japan declined to attend the opening ceremony in Seoul.
ROK in the semis: We've talked about this before. As far as I know nothing has been proven but there are still a lot of people who think some deal was done to get the Koreans to the semis.
Shock: Korea in the semis

2006, Hosts: Germany, Winner: Italy
Charlie Dempsey: Oceania's representative on the FIFA Executive Committee had been ordered to vote for South Africa to host after England were eliminated in the voting. Instead he packed his bags and left, leading Germany to be awarded the World Cup instead. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark had to personally apologise to the South Africans.
Battle of Nuremburg: 4 red cards and 16 yellow cards were used by Russian referee Valentin Ivanov in the round of 16 match between Portugal and the Netherlands, the most ever at a World Cup match.
Zidane on Materazzi: In extra time of the final Zidane headbutted Italian defender Materazzi in the chest after he allegedly made a comment about his sister. The whole world saw it, as did the fourth official who alerted the ref and Zidane was sent off. French President Chirac lauded Zidane as "a man of heart and conviction".
Shock: The favourites reasserted themselves at the finals. Unfancied Vanuatu, led by 17 year-old Jean Maleb, beat New Zealand in Adelaide which allowed Australia to draw with the Solomon Islands in the last match and send them through to the OFC playoff match.

2010, Hosts: South Africa, Winner: Spain
Hand of Henry: Henry's handball goal knocked Ireland out of the qualifying play-off.
Frank Lampard’s shot crossed the line vs Germany in the round of 16 but was not given.
Vuvuzelas: TV audiences, broadcasters and advertisers complained that the constant droning of vuvuzelas during matches was ruining the TV product. FIFA for once backed the right thing and allowed the locals to carry on.
Shock: Ghana were a missed penalty by Gyan at the end of extra-time away from a semi-final spot.

2014, Hosts: Brazil, Winner: Germany
Seeding of France: The seeding rules were changed at the last minute, changing the precedent for 2006, whereby France would’ve been placed in Pot 2. The change was proposed by French FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. Italy was eventually drawn in Pot 2 and into a tough group (from which they failed to progress) and the Italian headlines read “what a scandal!”.
Suarez bites Chiellini: Uruguayan forward Suarez bit Italian defender Chiellini without the ref noticing. In the ensuing play, Uruguay won a corner and scored to win 1-0 and eliminate Italy. The Uruguayan President called the ensuing ban on Suarez “fascist”. Uruguayans still feel they were hard done by.
Shock: Germany beat hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, the Mineriaco. Someone in Brazil brewed a German-style beer called Sete a um. They may never want to host the World Cup in Brazil again.
Venues: Several security lapses at the Maracana saw groups of ticketless South American fans repeatedly invading the stadium.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:51 am
by paquebot
What a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thanks for write-up, eujin!

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:11 pm
by Rothesay Saint
Wow, that's the kind of comprehensive post that you normally only see on here about buses or K3 goalkeepers' weight problems.

I thought I knew everything about the World Cup, but had no idea Brazil used to play in white and wouldn't have been able to name the East German goalscorer in the 1974 World Cup. Very excited about the upcoming World Cup, and disappointed that there will be no English refs this time. Any predictions for this year's controversies?

VAR is pretty much bound to end in a farce at some point. Argentina and Belgium look well placed for a meltdown at some point in the tournament. Spain v Portugal bloodbath? Tunisia and Panama playing out a high scoring draw to eliminate England and Belgium? Zlatan to return the golden boot as it isn't big enough... or golden enough?

Can't wait!

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:01 am
by eujin
I wonder what happens to the office sweepstake if any of the teams pull out. I can't remember that ever being a worry prior to the tournament before (although I remember thinking England should pull out in 1998). Putin's not going to be happy if Russia slip out meekly like they did in the hockey at Sochi and he won't have the distraction of a medals table to dominate this time. They've not had good results in their warm-up matches, but for some reason I feel it might be time for a non-UEFA team and maybe the Russians would prefer that than a France-Germany final.

There's always one team that does the complete opposite of what they did in qualifying, but a lot of teams have been very defensive heading into this one. Argentina were involved in a lot of low scoring matches, Portugal will stick with the tactics that served them well two years ago, Hector Cuper will attempt to park the bus with Egypt, Costa Rica may well play 5-4-1 in front of one of the world's best keepers, Morocco conceded no goals in their final group stage and Iran conceded only after they'd qualified.

There are some very interesting match-ups in the groups. Local rivals Saudi Arabia and Egypt in group one and Uruguay playing both of them will be fun, the Portugal-Spain-Morocco love-triangle in group B. Argentina's group D is the group of death for me, any of the four teams has a decent chance of going through. I'm struggling a bit with groups E and H. Brazil cruised through their qualification, Switzerland are probably the worst UEFA team. The FIFA rankings have them as fourth best and that's about all you need to know. They were lucky to beat Northern Ireland and qualified from a shockingly weak group (third place Hungary lost to Andorra). Serbia-Brazil might be under the radar enough that it turns up a classic. In group H it's a bit of a scandal that Poland were seeded while Spain were not. Which one of those two is going to feature most in people's list of potential winners? Senegal might be the best African side although that's always hard to predict. Maybe Senegal-Colombia could be interesting. Japan haven't won a match yet this year and they're still relying on the likes of Hasebe and Honda. Kagawa has been injured the past few months.

Defending champions Germany won all their qualifiers, which is surely a bad idea. They also won last year's Confederations Cup with their B team and they've been rotating players through the side steadily, but in the end Joachim Löw won't be able to help himself and he'll go with a central core of Neuer-Hummels-Khedira-Kroos-Özil-Müller-Götze, the same ones that got the job done in 2014. There's a question of who he might play up front in Klose's old role. Mario Gomez would be the ultra conservative choice. I was a fan of Sandro Wagner when he was at Darmstadt but now he's on the bench at Bayern and it probably won't be him.

As for Korea, well I think they've got the toughest three opponents of any of the 32 teams. Group D is the group of death, but Korea's group F would be if it wasn't for Korea being there. They had appalling away form in qualifying, had to change coaches near the end and almost didn't make it. Son Heung-min's had a great season at Spurs, but he can't do it all on his own (this goes from Christian Eriksen too). For me, they'll have done well if they get more than zero points. Sweden have actually been looking quite good. They beat Italy and France in qualifying and they have a few players like Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg that can do some damage (at least to Korea). I would love to see them say "no thanks" to Zlatan now that he's made it clear on Twitter he's available. Mexico are the only team left that rival England in underachieving (and probably actually underachieve more given the population). Chicarito can certainly score goals.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:20 pm
by OttoSilver
Would it be fair to say Germany is the most consistent threat at the World Cup tournament?

German: 4 wins, 4 runners-up, 4 third place, 1 fourth place = 13 final 4 places
Brazil: 5 wins, 2 runners-up, 2 third place, 2 fourth place = 11 final 4 places
Italy: 4 wins, 2 runners-up, 1 third place, 1 fourth place = 8 final 4 places

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2018 9:13 pm
by Rothesay Saint
"A good world cup for Germany is winning it, a bad world cup is only making the final", "Never write off the Germans". Plenty of cliches about the German national team. It's a pretty amazing record that they have. They are definitely a bigger threat than Italy this time. :0)

Group H looks like the tight one to me, doesn't look much between Senegal, Poland, Colombia or Japan in quality. All four teams''ll be completely different from each other in style and it looks like a fun group.

Watching again in Korea, I'll probably just watch the early matches for the first two rounds of group games and the highlights of the others the next morning, so not particularly looking at individual matches at the moment, although that Portugal v Spain game does stand out. Not quite sure what you are seeing in Serbia though, another team that came through a weak group and there doesn't seem to be many stand out stars in the squad.

I'd certainly agree about Korea getting one point being a success, certainly disagree about Zlatan (I'd love to see him there) and be a bit more unsure about the German team. Will Neuer be back in time? Does Khedira still have the legs? I'me certainly not writing them off, but I do wonder if they might have an extremely bad World Cup this time, and only make the semi-finals.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:08 am
by eujin
Yes, it's fair to say Germany are the most consistent threat, although it's tough to put my finger on why. They have the largest population in Western Europe, so they have the most people to pick from, but it's not like a list of the world's greatest players is dominated by Germans. Probably their most talented player currently is Mesut Özil, but he's not more pivotal to Arsenal than Denmark's Christian Eriksen at Spurs or Belgium's Kevin de Bruyne at Man City. Korean clubs don't feel the need to stack their squads with two or three German players each.

Germany have always been a good tournament team. They also have an uncanny knack of knowing when they can afford not to win. A classic example is 1974. The long-running joke is they should give Jürgen Sparwasser a winners' medals because if he hadn't scored that goal for East Germany, then West Germany would've ended up in the second round group with Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands and would never have made the final. In my youthful naivety I was delighted when Denmark beat them 2-0 in the group stage in Mexico 1986. But the outcome of that was Denmark played Spain in the second round and lost, while Germany played mighty Morocco and went all the way to the final. In 1954 they lost 8-3 in the group stage to the team they beat in the final (Hungary).

Maybe part of it is that there is no daily sports newspaper like in Italy and Spain with journalists constantly hounding the team for stories about what the third-string left-back had for breakfast in order to file their stories. The only real national tabloid is Bild Zeitung and as long as Lothar Matthäus and Boris Becker keep messing up, their journalists can largely get behind the national team (and why wouldn't you). In fact Germany sports reporting is quite dour and factual by English standards.

Maybe having a winter break has something to do with it too, but it's only four weeks (in Denmark it seems to last four months). They do a lot of youth development on plastic pitches and before that did a lot of winter football on cinder pitches. It's still cold and wet in the winter, but there's room for developing ball skills rather than just hoofing the ball over a giant mud patch. Bayern's players, who often provide the backbone of the national team, also have a competitive season that only lasts 4 to 5 matches and spend of the rest of the year playing warm-up matches, so they probably get more rest than the average South American.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 3:16 am
by eujin
Neuer says he will be ready for the World Cup. If they don't pick him they can always fall back on Barcelona's starting keeper. There was a worry about Jerome Boateng after he went off the other night against Real Madrid but now they're saying he should be OK. And Zlatan, apparently he has "decided" that he doesn't want to play at the World Cup afterall.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 3:40 am
by eujin
I'm busy creating my own private reality here, but riddle me this. In 1982 Austria qualified from their group ahead of Algeria on goal difference. They had a goal difference of +2, Algeria had only +0. This came about because Germany beat Austria in the final group match 1-0 and everyone was outraged. Germany would've needed to score two more goals to knock out Austria.

Now in 2014, the USA qualified in their group ahead of Portugal on goal difference. They had +0 and Portugal -3. This came about because Germany beat the USA 1-0 in the final group match. Germany would've needed to score three more goals to knock out the USA.

So why is the attitude to Gijon in 1982 so different from the attitude to Recife in 2014? Surely that one extra goal can't make all the difference in the world? I watched the Germany vs USA game and all I remember is it was incredibly boring. I even wrote about it on here viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3147&start=195#p65688

So was it really that different? Portugal's match kicked off at the same time as Germany-USA, but Algeria already knew they needed to stick a few past Chile in 1982 to get past Austria or West Germany on goal difference. The Germans and Austrians are old friends, divided by a common language, but the USA did have a German coach in 2014.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:18 pm
by eujin
I got Colombia in the office sweepstake. Not the best result, but at least now I have some interest in the outcome of Group H.

I want to tip Argentina to win it, possibly because I want to give them the kiss of death, but also because FIFA must be tired of UEFA teams winning all the time and with Messi they have a player and a brand that can make all the difference. Their qualifying form wasn't very good, which is usually a good sign, so they have room to improve as the tournament progresses.

For the flop of the tournament it's unlikely to be Spain or Brazil again, because that would be too embarrassing. Could it be Germany? Joachim Löw says Neuer will start if he's fit enough, but maybe German keepers are all out of calamitous performances now. Maybe Italy already are the flop of the tournament, that would be rather dull.

Re: World Cup 2018

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:19 pm
by Rothesay Saint
Sergio Ramos was practicing a bit of flopping at the weekend but I reckon that is as close as Spain will get to being a flop at this tournament. Spain to beat Germany in the final and Argentina to be knocked out in the last 16.