04 December, 2009

Results of World Cup 2010: you read it here first

FIFA drew the groups for the World Cup 2010 tournament today by lots. Over the last few years I have developed a highly sophisticated formula* that predicts quite accurately** the final results. I don't have time*** to consider all the teams, but here are the ones I care about most:

  1. Four years ago I stunned a fan by referring to Team USA as "a bunch of pathetic, overrated losers". The characterization was well deserved: they scored all of two goals in that year's World Cup, and one of those was an own goal by the other team, which emphasizes just how pathetic the offense was; and American fans who study the sport and ought, therefore, to have known better, overrated the team and bandied about seriously the notion that Team USA would win the thing. So, yes, in case you're wondering: I'm poking both the team and its fans.

    After today's draw, the same completely unreasonable speculation started. YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Team USA will not make it out of the group rounds. After a dispiriting spanking by England in the opening game (this ain't 1950, folks) we will be shocked by Slovenia, who recently shocked Russia (no one to sneer at). At that point we'll struggle even to tie Algeria and save face. In other words, expect a repeat of the 2006 Cup.

    Doubt me? Here are some scores from the past few months:
    1. lost to Denmark 1-3;
    2. lost to Slovakia 0-1 (Slovakia, Slovenia, hmmm…);
    3. tied Costa Rica after falling behind 0-2;
    4. lost to Mexico in a World Cup Qualifier match 0-5.
    You read that right: 0-5, a baseball score. In a game that counted. Now Mexico isn't someone to sneer at, but they ain't exactly Cup favorites, either. No, I'm afraid we're a long ways from a win yet.
  2. Speaking of England, it's England FTW. If not, they should be banned from the sport for ever. Come on, boys, even France has a title now. Win this won for God, Queen, and Country. Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the pitch! Britons never will be… uhm… kitsch?
  3. Italy, whom I must root for lest my blood relatives disown me, will underperform. They won the 2006 World Cup, and there's some law of fate that Italy can't appear in consecutive cups (only Mussolini found a way to make that happen, much as only Mussolini found a way to make the Italian trains run on time, or so they say). So it's out of the question. Besides, the team hain't been the same since i notti magiche di Totò Schillaci, or (for that matter) the incomparable Gaetano Scirea.
  4. Brazil fans without any connection to Brazil: that's not sporting. Fate will punish you with a performance that will teach you to pick an underdog for once and learn what real fandom is. Honestly, you're no better than fans of the Yankees, Cowboys, and the Northern Italian Triumvirate of Serie A.
  5. Speaking of underdogs who will surprise and delight: my usual favorites are out (Romania, Poland, Russia) so I'll pick
    1. Slovenia (see above)
    2. South Africa (since at least 2002 the refs have made a habit of cheating for the home team; so France, you've just been warned)
    3. Nigeria (Diego "Hand of God" Maradona is coaching Argentina, so I'm praying for this one);
    4. Mexico (Team USA fans, your consolation is that Mexico will shine, shine, shine—if not, France may yet win).
You may be wondering whether I'm making all this up. Read the footnotes below.

Two more notes:
  1. FIFA has once again designed a new ball that, they say, will increase goal scoring. Considering how well that worked last time around (the 2006 Cup featured fewer goals than the previous Cup—147 v. 161—which featured fewer than the 1998 Cup), don't expect a lot of excitement.
  2. I forgot the second. Must not have been important.

*This formula is designed with meticulous precision. Its primary criterion is to annoy as many soccer fans as possible. What? at least I'm honest.

**The metric of accuracy here is my imagination.

***(or interest)

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