Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup

While I've never been a big soccer fan I will always watch the World Cup. I enjoy the expectations and drama -- entire countries become jubilant or depressed over one game. An underdog beating a marquee team could cause tens of millions of people to party until morning. Fans dress up like it's a costume party. World Cup for most of the world is like Canada following the hockey during the Winter Olympics.

So naturally most of the guys in the office were talking about it. You'll have to trust me that this is not me jumping on the bandwagon but from the get-go I was backing South American teams. It seemed that everyone in the office was always going on about the European teams and with the exception of Argentina and Brazil they were dismissing the rest of the South American teams. I disagreed and in fact stated that my "dark horse" team was Chile. (I always pick one underdog team to root for, in the last World Cup it was Ghana.)

Well the round-robin is over and of the 15 round-robin games that South American teams played they only lost one. All five South American teams are through to the knockout stages, and 4 of the 5 won their groups. Contrast that with Europe where France and Italy were knocked out early, and both England and Spain needed a win in their last game to advance. I'm sure people in England were outraged that the much-maligned USA wound up winning the group that England was in.

It is even possible that 4 South American teams will advance to the quarterfinals (Chile and Brazil play in the round of 16 so one South American team has to be knocked out, go Chile!)

Africa did not fare as well which is a shame because there were high expectations that with the tournament being held in South Africa the African teams should do well. Of the six teams from Africa only one made it through to the knockout rounds (Ghana). The hosts South Africa did not make it through, the first time in World Cup history that the host did not advance from the round-robin stages.

Anyway having seen the round-robin matches I'm backing Chile as the underdog team and Spain as the "most likely to win" team.

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