Sunday 15 June 2014

World Cup Observations 1: Wow, I was wrong about Costa Rica and what are Australia's chances now?

In an earlier post, I remarked that I thought Costa Rica were overrated because they came from the CONCACAF confederation.

Of course, I readily concede that I was proven dead wrong with today's result. I couldn't be happier though. I love supporting the underdog, and I am glad they pulled off an upset, throwing Group D wide open.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, obviously it can be confirmed that Group D (in addition to Group G) does appear to be a Group of Death, with all teams having something to play for (and all have a real chance of going through to the knockout stage).

Who would have thought the table would look like this?!?!
 Costa Rica110031+23

Other general observations thus far:
  • I can't believe that Japan was caught napping for about 3 minutes, causing them to lose the whole match with 2 goals being scored in that space of time! That being said, I hope Ivory Coast go through to the knockout stages. Gervinho is still, in my opinion, a poor decision maker when it comes to choosing who to pass to (though he is a very very good dribbler).
  • I wanted England to win, but the Italians were too good. Rooney had a glorious chance to equalise things. It's always easy to blame one person for a team's failure but I would like to remind the media that Rooney DID IN FACT supply the assist for Sturridge!
  • I was quite disappointed that Cameroon failed to score a goal against Mexico.
  • I was surprised that Greece was unable to find the net against Colombia (Gekas missed a glorious header!), and perhaps was even more surprised that Colombia were that dominating without Falcao.
  • When it mattered, officiating has been horrible - penalty given to Diego Costa and Fred very questionable. On one view of the footage, Fred fell before he was even grabbed. 
  • It was also nice to see Brazil concede first and their reaction to being shell-shocked

Key Question: Does Australia have a real prospect of progressing from Group B?

Short answer: No, not really.

However, if we are being extremely generous to Australia (and everything works out perfectly in a perfect green and gold world), my view is that this needs to happen for Australia to progress:

In the second set of Group B matches:
1) Australia must fluke a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands
2) Chile must lose to Spain by not more than 2 goals 

In the last set of Group B matches:
3) Netherlands must beat Chile by any number of goals 
4) Australia must, again, fluke a result against Spain by NOT LOSING.

How I brainstormed this

This is the current table in Group B


Looking at this above table, I will remark that I can't believe that Spain is sitting bottom of the table (for now).

If the Aussies are to have any chance of going through, and this probably won't happen, they obviously need to fluke a victory over the Netherlands or Spain (eg. 1-0). Why? Well because two draws won't be enough obviously as that's only worth 2 points which is less than the two pairs of 3 points on the table right now. 

So we know at least 1 victory is required. Because we play the Netherlands before Spain, I will make the fortuitous assumption that the Socceroos win 1-0 against the Netherlands. 

1-0 is the most reasonable scoreline because Australia don't create many chances because of their over-reliance on crossing the ball to Tim Cahill (ie. for him to score, many things need to be perfect - a person must be in a position to cross; the cross must be good; and Cahill must aim correctly and powerfully without having a good goalkeeper in the way). 

What happens next is conjecture. 

Say, in Scenario 1, Spain beats Chile by say 3 goals. The table might then look like this:

 Spain 210145−13
 Chile 210134−13
Even if Australia fluke another draw with Spain in its final match, this would not be enough even if the Netherlands beat Chile, as Spain has more Goals Scored than Australia (the third tiebreaker after Goal Difference).

If, under Scenario 1b)Spain beats Chile by say 1 or 2 goals (eg. 1-0): 


If Australia draws with Spain and Chile loses to Netherlands, all is good as Spain's Goal Difference is lower than ours.

If Australia beats Spain, it won't matter who beats who in Netherlands vs Chile.

If Australia loses to Spain (eg. 1-0 on a more favourable estimation), this causes complications because Spain will edge us on goals for.

In Scenario 2, Spain draws with Chile (eg. 1-1). 


Here, Australia must NOT lose to Spain in the final match AND if Australia draws with Spain, Netherlands must beat Chile by 4 or more goals. 

In the latter scenario where Australia draws with Spain, if the Dutch beat Chile by 2 goals or less, Chile will beat us based on Goal Difference. If the Dutch beat Chile by 3 goals, we lose based on Goals For as Goal Difference is tied. 

Obviously this is a fairytale scenario. Asking the Socceroos to not to lose to Spain (and Netherlands thrashing Chile) is a tall order, and probably impossible.
In Scenario 3, Chile beats Spain (say by 2 goals eg. 2-0):


This is also a nightmare scenario. If we lose to Spain, Chile must beat Netherlands by a sizeable goal difference so that the Dutch's Goal Difference is lower than ours (eg. 6 or more goals). This is a ridiculous proposition.

If we draw to Spain, Chile just has to beat the Netherlands. This is a more reasonable proposition.

If we beat Spain by a slender goal margin (a crazy and absurd idea - just as crazy as this assumption that the Socceroos will edge the Netherlands), the Netherlands cannot beat Chile.


The most likely scenario to occur is Scenario 1b), and even that has a very low chance of happening given the quality in the Australian side.

For the second set of matches in Group B:
1) Australia will need to edge a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.
2) Spain will need to beat Chile by only 1 or 2 goals (Eg. 2-0). Beating Chile by more than two goals would cause us complications as Spain would edge us on "Goals For", having the same Goal Difference.

For the last set of matches in Group B:
3) Australia must have a draw against Spain (eg. 0-0) and 
4) Chile must lose to the Netherlands (eg. 1-0; the number of goals won by doesn't matter here because Chile will be sitting on 3 points, with Spain and Australia on 4)

The final table will look like this:


However, this is so ridiculous that it's just not going to happen. I hope I am proven wrong again though!!

Alternatively, putting aside the assumption we beat the Netherlands 1-0, if we draw with the Netherlands, regardless of whether Chile beats Spain, Chile must beat the Netherlands by a ridiculous goal difference in its final match and we must beat Spain in the final match by a sizeable amount. This is because Netherlands and Australia will both be on 4 points and Goal Difference is the tiebreaker. This again is an absurd proposition.

Other observations about Group B in general:
  • I thought Australia could have procured a better result had they calmed down after they conceded the first goal against Chile. Of course, having such a young team was likely to produce that kind of panicked reaction and shambolic "defending" (non-marking and ball watching) that caused the second Chilean goal. However, to compete on the world's highest level (in a sport played by almost every country on earth), we really need to do better. We had many chances to equalise but we just couldn't find the back of the net because we lacked the finishing magic in the last third.
  • AND WOW, THE NETHERLANDS WERE AMAZING - a match that I'm glad I woke up for. That "Robin Van Persie Flying Dutchman Special" equaliser really was something.
Flying Dutchman Special


Andre Lim

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