Saturday 28 June 2014

World Cup Observations 14: Group Stage Round-Up; Suarez ban too much?; Asian teams out; Algeria shock the world (with lasers?); Portugal and Ghana extremely disappointing; Regional Strike Rates

The first thing on my mind that I have to mention is this: Portugal and Ghana really do not deserve, nor did they look like they wanted, qualification to the Last 16.

Both were dreadful in their match. They played as if the last game didn't matter to them, and the quality of the game was just not there. There was very little drive and commitment which I found astonishing. For example, Ronaldo missed a few sitters and Ghana were just sloppy all round, both in front and at the back. Had Ronaldo put away all of his chances, Portugal may have had a chance to go through on Goals For.

 United States31114404
Ghana blew their chance - given that Germany beat USA by 1-0, any win over Portugal would have sufficed. Instead they scored an own goal and gave a gift of a goal to Ronaldo.

However, I am told by this article in the Guardian that other issues revolving around money destabilised the Ghanaian team. If it's true, that is definitely a sad (but unavoidable, I suppose) reflection on the game.

Let's just say that, after waking up at 2am in the morning in a motel-like place to watch the match, I was very disappointed with both sides. 

Group H and the African Teams

Russia, and in particular their goalkeeper, have only themselves to blame. Had they not conceded so cheaply against South Korea and Algeria, they would be through to the knockout stages just like that. I feel for the Russian goalkeeper in the Algerian match as lasers were fired in his eyes from the crowd; whether that is a proper excuse however is another thing, but one can imagine that it would be extremely difficult to defend your goal from a set piece when your eyes are partially blinded. No fan should tamper with the performance of a player on the pitch and I quite dislike that sort of hooliganism.

Algeria (like Greece) have qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in their history, even after losing their opening match of their campaign (as Greece did again and as Uruguay has done).

I watched some of the the Nigeria-Argentina match (and filled my remaining lack of knowledge with highlights) and saw Musa cutting through the Argentinian defence quite easily. Argentina look like they have some problems at the back.

Where draws have been important this World Cup

That reminds me.

In an earlier post I remarked that I couldn't immediately think of an example where a draw was vitally important. Two now-obvious candidates have just resonated in my head: ten-man Greece v Japan and Algeria v Russia. In both matches, the draw was absolutely vital for the team that qualified for the Round of 16. For example, had Greece lost to Japan, assuming all other things remained equal, Ivory Coast would have won on goal difference.

Final Group C Table
 Ivory Coast310245−13
Another way of looking at this is simply by observing the absence of the draw in Nigeria v Bosnia Hercegovina. Had the referee not disallowed D┼żeko's goal, it would be Bosnia sitting on 4 points and Nigeria relegated to 2 points. In short, Nigeria was quite lucky to steal a win from Bosnia Hercegovina.

Final Group F Table
 Bosnia and Herzegovina31024403

Suarez Ban

I won't go into too much here, but even the victim Chiellini thinks the ban is too crazy. The harshest aspect of Suarez's ban is the fact that he's not allowed to have any relationship with football ("football-related activities" as quoted by another media outlet) for 120 days!

Strike Rates - Asian Teams a disappointment

Finally, I express some disappointment that all Asian teams have been eliminated from the tournament. In particular, the torch-bearers Japan and South Korea performed horribly. But that is the realistic standard of Asian (and Australian) football.

Strike Rates for each confederation, defined as the proportion of teams that have survived through to the knockout stages, relative to the number of teams entered from that respective confederation,  are stated below:

  • Asia (AFC): 0/4 = 0% [somewhat "normal" for Asian teams, though there is a fluctuating variance.  when they did their best in 2002 and 2010 with a 2/4 strike rate]

  • Europe (UEFA): 6/13 = roughly 46% [Italy, Portugal, Russia, Spain, England, Croatia and Bosnia Hercegovina all out; their equal lowest strike rate given that a strike rate of roughly 10/14, 9/15 or 10/13 was fairly common, with the exception of 2010 which was just as bad as this current campaign]

  • North and Central America (CONCACAF): 3/4 = 75% [their second highest ever strike rate, but their highest came from 1994 where America hosted the World Cup and in that case only two CONCACAF teams entered - arguably this is the greater achievement thanks to Costa Rica]

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