Women’s World Cup: Weekend Summary: Insanity

Wow, what an insane weekend. So much overtime, so many surprises.

France defeated Australia with no surprises, except that Australia’s defense is even worse than we thought. A lot of people are saying that the Matildas have it in them to be a contender next World Cup, but they’ve got to majorly change their defense to pull that off.

In a huge shocker, heavy favorites Germany actually lost to Japan in one of the most surprising upsets in WWC history. Germany was expected to take home its third world cup in a row, especially considering the home field advantage, and instead they didn’t even make it to the semis.

Japan dominated the game, but didn’t actually score in regular time, despite their incredible possession percentage. They scored finally in the 108th minute, shocking the German crowd who couldn’t accept the way the wind was blowing. This is the first time they’ve ever defeated a European side in the World Cup, and if this didn’t make a hero out of the incredible Sawa, then nothing could. Unfortunately, because Sweden won against Australia, Germany won’t be going to the Olympics next year, which is absolutely absurd. Europe sends the two last standing teams in the WWC to the Olympics, rather than having a qualifying tournament, meaning that their best team isn’t going next year, which is legitimately a real shame, though I can’t say I feel anything but joy for Japan after this game.

France and England played an intense game that went all the way to PKs, a rarity in WWC matches. Although Sunday’s US vs Brazil game would prove to be a much more insanely intense game, France vs England looked like it would end up the best game of the tournament. France dominated play, but England’s goalkeeper kept them in the game and England scored in the second half. England then questionably used all three of its substitutions in the last ten minutes of regular time and France scored with just two minutes left, taking the game into extra time. Neither team scored so it went to PKs, where England lost 4-3.

Hope Powell, the England coach, is rumored to be stepping down after accusing her team of cowardice. Apparently none of her team stepped forward to volunteer to take the Penalty Kicks, except the two who ended up missing them — one was exhausted, and one was playing her first WWC game — but since no one else was volunteering, they did. Probably not the most political way of dealing with the situation, but it was a hard loss.

And then there was US vs Brazil. What a game. I think I’m still recovering from the adrenaline. 2 minutes into the game, the US forced an own goal on poor Daiane, whose head must be hanging low today. The US went on to dominate the game for most of the first half and into the second. And then the referee dominated the game.

I tend not to get upset at calls, I usually get upset at the lack of instant replay, which allows bad calls by fallible eyes to go unchecked. Marta, five time player of the year aka the female Pele, was going in towards the goal and facing a completely fair challenge by Buehler, but the ref decided it was a foul — it very clearly wasn’t on replay. Buehler got a red card and sent off in the 66th minute, meaning the US went on to play a man down for the next hour, and Brazil got a Penalty Kick. For a foul that wasn’t committed, mind you.

The unbelievably awesome Hope Solo blocked the PK, but the ref decided that someone was off their line (another bad call) and gave Solo a yellow card (a truly disgustingly bad call) and forced the PK to be retaken (seriously vomit inducing). Solo did not beat Marta’s shot, and Brazil came up for a tie.

And then something amazing happened, the crowd in Germany decided they hated Marta and Brazil. I mean, really despised them because of how unfair the calls were. It is amazing at any time when a US team is liked overseas, but this was brilliant. Every time Marta touched the ball the entire crowd booed, hissed, and whistled. She was like a horrible villain on the field.

In a beautiful attack by the US on Brazil’s goal, they got called offsides when they were well onside, and immediately after offsides wasn’t called on Brazil, who made a goal. Thanks to horrible calls, Brazil had a second goal, and the US was down by one.

And then Brazil got nasty, they started taking time when they didn’t need it. A player who wasn’t hurt crumpled to the ground when no one was around her in the most spectacularly cynical move I’ve seen to run out the clock, a move that makes Italy and France look like they hardly take dives at all. She stayed down for three or four minutes and got stretchered off the field. The moment play resumed, she jumped off the stretcher and joined the game. The ref only gave her a yellow card, but I would have sent that horrible woman off with a red and a severe talking to.

The German crowd started chanting USA! USA!

They added on 3 minutes of injury time to the game, taking them over the 120 minute mark and, in a truly unbelievable moment, Rapinoe sent a massive pass forward and Wambach headed it in with less than a minute of play left. It was incredible.

So it went into PKs on the anniversary of the 1999 final in Pasadena, where the US won in PKs and everyone was confident that the US was going to pull off the miracle comeback. And they did, thanks to perfect shots from all of the US and a brilliant save by Hope Solo, who is awesome, against poor poor Daiane who made the mistake of looking at the goalie. You never look at the goalie during PKs.

It was the most epic footy I’ve ever seen.

Women’s World Cup 2011: Updated Predictions

OK, so wow, France is doing much better than expected, and my US team is looking like their number 1 rank is deserved.  I am relieved and will go forth being overly optimistic for them because I love them so much.

So, my predictions for the rest of the group games.

Group A

France and Germany are tied on points, but France has a much better goal differential, meaning that all they have to do is tie Germany to move forward as the winners.  Germany is the favorite, but France has looked much better on the field — something I definitely did not predict.  I’d like France to win and that, more than anything, is leading me to say that France will win the group, and Germany will be second.

Group B

Japan is definitely going forward, so the competition is between Mexico and England.  England is well ahead in goal differential, so they can lose to Japan and still move forward, which is exactly what I think is going to happen.  Japan first, England second.

Group C

This is as fun as Group A, because the US and Sweden are literally fighting for the number one slot.  Like France, all the US has to do is tie to win the group.  I think they’re going to outright beat Sweden, or at least that is my hope.  US number 1, Sweden number 2.

Group D

I simply cannot see Brazil not creaming Equatorial Guinea, which may be very fun to watch, so the competition is now  for second place between Australia and Norway.  Norway has not been impressive, but Australia’s defense has been lax.  Australia just has to tie Norway to move on, and I think they’ve got that in them.  I’m saying Brazil 1, Australia 2.

So if the games followed this prediction, we’d end up with the following matches.

Match 25
France vs England

I’m tempted to say France, as surprised as I am by that.  This seems like a very close match to me.

Match 26
Japan vs Germany

Should be a great game as well, but I think Japan is going to be tough to beat.

Match 27
US vs Australia

This should be an easy win for the US.

Match 28
Brazil vs Sweden

This should be an easy win for Brazil.

SemiFinal A/B
France vs Japan

I think this is Japan’s.

SemiFinal C/D
US vs Brazil

Man, this is tough.  I don’t know.  They are my two favorite teams.  I think Brazil is weak in their defense and the US could exploit it, but sometimes it seems like the US barely even shows up.  I’m going to say the US, but I would be thrilled to see either one of these teams in the final.

3rd Place
France vs Brazil


US vs Japan


Women’s World Cup 2011 Predictions

Group A Predictions Points
Germany (2) W W W 9 (first)
Canada (6) L T W 4 (second)
Nigeria (27) L L L 0
France (7) W T L 4

Germany has already beaten Canada, but France only beat Nigeria by 1, which is potentially good news for Canada. Canada doesn’t have to beat France outright, as long as there’s a bigger point spread between Canada and Nigeria. In fact, the only reason I’m picking Canada over France is the point deferential in the Nigeria game.

Group B Predictions Points
Japan (4) W W W 9 (First)
N Zealand (24) L L T 1
Mexico (22) T L T 2
England (10) T W L 4 (Second)

I’d love to see New Zealand tie England and then Mexico and New Zealand fight it out to go forward, knowing that if it’s a tie, England will move forward. That would be exciting!

Group C Predictions Points
US (1) T W W 7 (First)
N Korea (8) T L W 4
Colombia (31) L L L 0
Sweden (5) W W L 6 (Second)

I think the US is going to start weak, but then find its feet. I would actually like the US to come in second in this bracket, though I think assuming they’ll get out of it is an assumption. If they flat out beat N Korea tomorrow, I’ll feel a lot better about them, they’ve been pretty shaky of late. They could also easily lose or tie Sweden, meaning N Korea isn’t out of the running here.

Group D Predictions Points
Brazil (3) W T W 7 (First)
Australia (11) L W T 4
Norway (9) W T T 5 (Second)
Equatorial Guinea (61) L L L 0

Poor Equatorial Guinea. I’d love to see them tie someone. Or a beautiful upset of Brazil! That’s going to be by far the biggest difference in team quality of the tournement.

So if the games followed this prediction, we’d end up with the following matches.

Match 25
Germany vs England

Oh man, I always love Germany versus England, that’s always so great, such brilliant rivalry there. I think England doesn’t stand a chance, though.

Match 26
Japan vs Canada

Regardless of the second place Group A finisher, I have a hard time seeing any of them beating Japan this year.

Match 27
US vs Norway

This is the US game to lose, but that doesn’t really mean they won’t. Gosh, I’m awfully pessimistic about the US this year, I’m just not feeling the number 1 ranking at all.

Match 28
Brazil vs Sweden

I think this could actually be a good game. Brazil’s certainly got the advantage, but it would be a brilliant upset for Sweden to beat them. And it’s possible.

SemiFinal A/B
Germany vs Japan

Why do so many match ups remind me of WWII? I think this is easily Germany’s.

SemiFinal C/D
US vs Brazil

In my optimistic moments, I think the US could win this. In my pessimistic moments, I think it’s hopeless. It’s a close call, and I’m likely to revise my opinion seeing how the teams progress through the cup, but from here I’m going to say Brazil.

3rd Place
Japan vs US

The US has never placed lower than 3rd, we’ll see if they’ve got the ability to keep that true.

Germany vs Brazil

How men’s soccer of them. I’d love to see Brazil win, as it hasn’t done so yet and it would lend more legitimacy to the Women’s Soccer program in a country where soccer is the sport.

Viva La Roja

So, not a lot to say about the end of the world cup, I just want to show this picture, which you should click to see a very awesome animated GIF, which I stole from someone else. I’m super happy for Spain!



Goodbye Uruguay

We will miss you. Diego Forlan just can’t be the only person on the team, you know.

Still, they did better than I thought they would against the Netherlands. Just not good enough. If Spain doesn’t win tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll have any interest in watching the finals.


More thoughts later, but Diego Forlan and Muslera are a team unto themselves. Also, Suarez got what might have been the most worth it Red Card ever.

That is the best soccer game I’ve ever seen.

FIFA Predictions for Quarter-Finals: Pretty Good

It only missed one — the US loss to Ghana.  Everything else was dead on.  That’s kind of neat.  Of course, if that success rate continues I’ll be sad because it will mean that Forlan won’t win the World Cup.

Current predictions

538 Odds

World Cup Day 14, Day 15, Day 16

This is what my system of just trusting FIFA rankings predicts. What I want to happen is for Uruguay to win… Landon Donovan needs to be treated like a national hero, but it probably won’t happen. He’s had most world cup appearances and goals of any male US player.

US v Ghana — how heartbreaking.  Looking at these numbers it looks like Germany has the hardest road ahead of it, a lot of closely matched games.

Current predictions


Day 16 odds

World Cup Day 12, Day 13

Halfway through the knockout we’ve got the following:

Group A
1A: Uruguay!!
2A: Mexico!
Out: S. Africa, France!!

Group B
1B: Argentina
2B: S. Korea
Out: Nigeria, Greece

Group C
1C: USA!!
2C: England
Out: Algeria, Slovenia

Group D
1D: Germany
2D: Ghana
Out: Serbia, Australia

So, the first half of the games in the Quarterfinals are (with FIFA rank)

Uruguay (16) v S. Korea (47)
USA (14) v Ghana (32)
Germany (6) v England (8)
Argentina (7) v Mexico (17)

The only game where I don’t have an easy favorite is Argentina v Mexico.

World Cup Day 9, Day 10, Day 11

So, the most important things we’ve learned in the last three days are.

1. Portugal kicked North Korea’s ass hardcore, and probably could’ve gotten more goals if it’d been more on target.

2. Spain seems to have regained its footing, its next game against Chile is important, but if they continue to play solidly they may still be in this

3. Brazil is definitely in, Portugal is probably in — their game is going to be fun to watch

4. Italy is not quite as embarrassing as France, but close

5. Netherlands is definitely in, Cameroon is definitely out

So, the last round of games is upon us.  They’re going to be two at a time, so a two hour stretch of time is going to determine who moves on of the four of each group.  North Korea and Cameroon are the only teams that are for sure out, and Argentina, Brazil and Netherlands are the only ones definitely in, so it’s 27 teams fighting for 13 spots.

Nate Silver gives odds!