Magic 22 : World Cup and seeding ramblings

Scotland moved up to 22 in the World Rankings today. That’s a move of 15 places from 37 in the last month or so, 3 places in front of Bosnia and Algeria and 6 places ahead of Ecuador (all of which have qualified for Brazil). The last time we reached such exalted status “wee” Broon was in charge and we were on our way to France 98.

 

1  Spain 1460
2  Germany 1340
3  Portugal 1245
4  Colombia 1186
5  Uruguay 1181
6  Argentina 1174
6  Brazil 1174
8   Switzerland 1161
9  Italy 1115
10  Greece 1082
11  England 1043
12  Belgium 1039
13  United States 1015
14  Chile 1011
15  Netherlands 967
16  France 935
17  Ukraine 913
18  Russia 903
19  Mexico 876
20  Croatia 871

It really makes a mockery of the whole FIFA system as in reality the top 24 teams will all be competing in the World Cup in June. A true reflection would have Scotland at 40-50, and that is being kind. Granted their seems to be a nice wee dose of optimism with Strachan following our end of group purple patch but I’m fairly certain it doesn’t merit a position in the relatively lofty heights of 22nd in the World. But will we take it?? Dam right, especially if it in imbibes the players with some sort of faux delusion of greatness and spurs us on to an historic win in Dortmund versus De Germans.

It is not inconceivable that wee further progress with a win in the coming friendly with Nigeria, move into the top 20 and beyond. It’s a pity this has no bearing on our Euro 2016 seeding with the draw already being made.

 

On what of the other pretenders??

Naturally the Spanish hold top spot as both World Cup and Euro Champ holders, followed by the Germans and Portuguese. Next their is the South American block of Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. The remaining top 10 is made up of Switzerland (yes), Italy and Greece (again, yes). England hover around at 11 with Holland, Chile, USA etc in and around the top 20.

 

It’s difficult to measure this against World Cup chances. Brazil are rightly the favourites for the trophy with the benefit of home crowds but i feel they will come up short especially if they lose Neymar or Oscar . Similarly Portugal would be captain-less and severley lacking without Ronaldo. You could probably go through all the main teams and pick out main players that would be missed with maybe the expectation of Belgium,although losing Hazard would be tough to contend with.

So I’ve created my own table (deliberately not including odds as its too difficult and fairly boring).

 

My Rankings based on World Cup chances :

 

1 ) GERMANY – although no European team has won the trophy in the Americas I feel that the Germans are favourites to win the trophy. Thanks mainly to a core of Bayern Munich and Dortmund stars but also with a couple of EPL favs and strong coach in Joachim Löw. They always make it to the latter stage, often to the semis and barring disaster or some sort of mitigated implosion will be in the final shake up.

2 ) ARGENTINA – With little Leo rampaging at will through hapless defences  supported by Di Maria, Arguero and Lavezzi the Atgies have the best forward line and scoring potential to worry any defence. Victory in their neighbours back year would be doubly sweet as well.

3 ) COLOMBIA – Making their first World Cup since France 1998 the Colombians are sweating over superstar and talisman Radamel Falcoa who is still recovering from injury and has a 50/50 chance of playing in Brazil. Still, with Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Gutierrez in attacking cover and James Rodriguez in midfield they should pass into the last 4 at least.

4 ) URUGUAY – Luis Suarez is the worlds in form goalscorer bagging goals every week for Liverpool. It is his chance to shine this summer on the biggest stage. Diego Forlan will be keen to impress in his last tournament and the brilliant Edison Cavani eager to bag some goals.

5 ) HOLLAND – SPAIN – PORTUGAL – I don’t honestly see any of these teams winning the World Cup but expect them to challenge in the last 8, depending on the draw. I feel the Spanish are reaching the end of an era and their players ageing, also other national managers wising up on how to combat the tiki taka football. Similarly, the Dutch may have Robben and Van Persie but will miss Strootman in the midfield. If Ronaldo can drag Portugal to the quarter finals without picking up suspension or injury it will be a victory in itself.

5 ) BRAZIL – Even with home crowds cheering their every move I can’t see the Samba Stars winning the trophy and once they start faltering these fans will be on their backs immediately. They are putting too much faith in Neymar who is not a match winning difference of a player.

 

World Cup 1986

I loved the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Maybe its because it was the first football tournament that caught my imagination.

Scotland were there and with a fair enough squad of mainly English first division players. King Kenny pulled out due to flu but we still had Strachan, Souness, MacAvennie, Sharp, Nicol etc and Alex Ferguson at the helm. In end, not surprisingly it was a disaster with close losses against Germany, Denmark and a poor 0-0 draw against a 10 man Uruguay sending us home before the postcards….again.

Diego Armando Maradona was in his pomp and prime scoring the best goal of time and one of the most controversial, both against the English.

My favourite game had to be France vs Brazil which went all the way to penalties. There was Schumachers dreadful tackle against France. An excellent final with the Argies edging the Germans 3-2.

All in all it was a magnificent tournament.

World Cup moments : Diana Ross USA 94

Opening ceremonies are the greatest waste of time and money in any tournament but USA really takes the biscuit (or cookie).

Enrolling soul diva Diana Ross onto the pitch was fair enough but setting her up for goal celebration was always going to be tough.

She jogged half of the pitch, while singing then only had to roll the penalty into the net.

But like hapless England team penalty taker she totally arsed and managed to miss by a good few yards. The goalkeeper made a dramatic,looping dive and almost saved it. The goals bursting into pieces only highlights the absurdity of the moment.

Good tune though

English will never get the World Cup

It seems like the BBC and assorted British press are a dog with a bone in regards to FIFA and the World Cup. They still can’t believe that Qatar got awarded the tournament despite their questionable attitudes towards gay people, workers conditions and the unbearable heat in their desert location (nobody has really mentioned they aren’t even a football country either). In the end the bid executive committee said those Englanders were too arrogant and entitled in the process, which is clearly impossible from such a humble and fair minded organisation like the FA. Or maybe the old commonwealth countries were getting a little jab back at 200 years of colonialism? Typically Scottish made an arse of themselves and backed the English FA when the fight was already over.

FIFA seem to stumble through one controversy after another and bat off documentaries, investigative journalist pieces, newspaper headlines and TV news segments like Brian Lara on crystal meth . If it is not Sepp Blatter blabbing some archaic opinion, its stories about shady deals and back handers between confederations and presidents. In truth its hard to see what would actually topple the “blazers” in Switzerland.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/world-cup/2014/

And what to England or the English footballing fraternity set to gain from it??

The FA were keen enough to cosy up to FIFA during their bid for hosting the tournament. Quite happy to spend 20 million on the whole process and roll out a grinning David Beckham to give that extra razzmatazz . Maybe they feel scorned because they were promised a proper tilt at the bidding process or even assured of a victory (which in itself would be illegal).

Even if Qatar are proved to be corrupt in their successful election as 2022 hosts the World Cup will not go to another Euro country so close after Russia in 2018 (Russia are all right by the way, they have no problems with racism or homophobia).

2026 could be their next available slot but by that time an asteroid will probably plummet into the atmosphere filling the skies with noxious gasses which shall decimate the human population but leave the good animals like lions, tigers and bears (oh…my) to roam freely and eventually set up their own World Cup.

So as FIFA “step up” their investigation into “acts of wrong doing” don’t hold out for some startling findings. The beans will not be spilled and England will not the get the World Cup any time soon.

ps. If England invite Scotland to bid as some kind of dual “we invented the game and gave it to you lot” special anniversary World Cup i retract everything above.

5 best games of this International double-header.

Croatia vs Serbia (Friday 5pm)

Away supporters have been banned from this Group A grudge match but it shouldn’t lessen the atmosphere.This will be the first Balkan derby since the bitter conflict from 1991-1995 and the tie goes well beyond just football.

Croatia share the lead with the top of Group A with the fashionable Belgians and will enter the match as heavy favourites. A defeat more or less confines Serbia to the realms of Group dunces along with Scotland and Wales.

It remains to been seen if it “kicks off” at kick off.

Czech Republic vs Denmark (Friday 7.30pm)

Both teams need to get their act together if they are to catch up with Italy at the summit of the group. A draw does neither team any good, while a win re-energizes their faltering campaigns.

Poland vs Ukraine (Friday 7.45pm)

Both teams failed to set the heather alight as hosts of Euro 2012 and have to step up to claim a play off spot. Montenegro top Group H with England 2 points behind.

Montenegro vs England (Tuesday 8pm)

The Baltic minnows will relish the chance to bloody the nose of the English and cement top spot of the group.

France vs Spain (Tuesday 8pm)

The battle of the giants in group I is surely the tie of this months International dates. Both teams are tied with 7 points after 3 games but should have 10 points after their respective home  games against Finland and Georgia. Spain have to slip up at some point, hopefully in the Stade de France.

Tight at the top of CONMEBOL table

After a poor start, Colombia got their campaign back on track in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. Following on from their excellent 4 – 0 win against Uruguay on Friday “El cafeteros” turned over Chile 3 – 1 in Santiago.

Falcao

Colombia’s Falcoa celebrates

Despite going behind just before half-time through Matias Fernandez, Colombia rallied in the second half with goals from Rodriguez, Falcoa and Gutierrez. Both teams finished the match with ten men.

Uruguay eventually managed to scrape a draw against Ecuador, thanks largely to a totally inept refereeing display form Carlos Amarilla. The Ecuadorians had the measure of their hosts for the majority of the game and deservedly went ahead through a Felipe Caicedo penalty in 9 minutes. Edison Cavani restored parity in 67 minutes for Uruguay but not before Ecuador was denied a stone-wall penalty.

Caicedo for Ecuador

Christain Benitez had raced forward upon goal but when he rounded the keeper he was crudely, bundled to the ground.  A penalty and goal-keeper red card seemed obvious but the referee opted to book Benitez for diving. To rub salt into their wounds the referee also sent off Ecuador’s captain and talisman Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger now automatically misses the next two games.

Chile          1-3       Colombia

Uruguay       1-1     Ecuador

Paraguay     0-2      Venezuela

     Peru        1-1       Argentina

 

Paraguay tumbled to another defeat realistically ending their qualification chances for Brazil 2014. This is all the more surprising with consideration that they have qualified for the last 4 World Cups and improved each time. Salomon Rondon grabbed a gaol either side of half time for Venezuela to earn a precious away win.

 

In Lima, Peru recorded a credible draw against group favourites Argentina. The hosts had already missed a third minute penalty before took the lead in 22 minutes through Eintracht Frankfurt’s Carlos Zambrano. Argentina’s Higuian got the equalizer just before half-time.

 

 

 

 

 

CONMEBAL Qualification table

Team         P        W      D       L        GF     GA    Pts

Argentina      7              4              2              1              15           6              14

Colombia       7              4              1              2              12           6              13

Ecuador           7              4              1              2              8              7              13

Uruguay          7              3              3              1              15           11           12

Chile                 7               4              0              3              12           13           12

Venezuela    8              3              2              3              7              8              11

Peru                  7                2              1              4              9              13           7

Bolivia             7               1              1              5              7              12           4

Paraguay        7              1              1              5              5              14           4

This month’s double header results have left Bolivia and Paraguay rooted to the bottom of the table adrift of everyone else.  With 4 points separating the top 6 teams and only 4 automatic qualification spots there is all to play for.

Uruguay has suffered the greatest with a 4 – o humbling and a poor home draw and they must improve if they don’t want to slide further down the table. Similarly Chile has lost form after leading the table.

Colombia and Ecuador are the major surprises so far but again next month’s results should tell us much more.

Next month’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying fixtures.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2012

Argentina            v             Uruguay

Bolivia  v             Peru

Colombia            v             Paraguay

Ecuador                v             Chile

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Bolivia  v             Uruguay

Chile     v             Argentina

Paraguay             v             Peru

Venezuela          v             Ecuador