Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Group A Preview

Host countries have a tendency to do well at World Cups. You have to look no further than Japan and, especially, Korea in 2002. So it really doesn't seem fair that, on top of the built-in home turf advantage, Germany was given an easy group. Let's break it down.

Germany:
Rankings: 19th (FIFA), 11th (ELO), 10th (Ziaian), 13th (mondfoot)
Country facts: Population, 82,422,299. National holiday, Unity Day, 3 October (1990).

Poland:
Rankings: 29th (FIFA), 22nd (ELO), 15th (Ziaian), 19th (mondfoot)
Country facts: Slightly smaller than New Mexico. Gender ratio,
0.94 male(s)/female

Ecuador:
Rankings: 39th (FIFA), 45th (ELO), 30th (Ziaian), 73rd (mondfoot)
Country facts: Gained independence 24 May 1822 (from Spain). Territorial rights to the Galapagos islands.

Costa Rica:
Rankings: 26th (FIFA), 38th (ELO), 38th (Ziaian), 67th (mondfoot)
Country facts: Has land boundaries with Nicaragua (309 km), and Panama (330 km). Has over 100 volcanic cones, including several major volcanoes.

All that this shows, apart from the total out-to-lunch-ness of the mondfoot rankings, is that after Germany this group is fairly wide open. The hosts rank is lower than it ought actually to be, simply because they haven't played meaningful matches recently. This is due to the fact that, as hosts, they earn an automatic bid to the final, and haven't played any qualifying matches, which are weighted more heavily in most calculations. I see an opening match win against Costa Rica, and results against Poland and Ecuador , to take first in the group. The Costa Ricans have had some turmoil recently, with a shake-up in their selection, so I don't expect much from them. For 2nd, it comes down to Poland and Ecuador, and I will side with the more tested (and higher-ranked) Poles, who should also have excellent fan support.

In case you didn't catch that:
  1. Germany
  2. Poland
  3. Ecuador
  4. Costa Rica

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bracketology

Here is a handy World Cup bracket (Microsoft Excel format, 14KB). I played around with it in OpenOffice, so I hope it opens fine.

I ended up with a Brazil-Czech Republic final, but that seems all too predictable considering the rankings, so I'll try again.

Expect an extensive preview post sometime before the festivities begin June 9th.