Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Doing the Dumb Thing

Well for months I have trawled media and read long-winded comment threads about coaches, teams and players. I've tried to see through the natural inclination of sensation in the professional media, and to decipher the mind games of the coaches. I've tried to see the wisdom in conflicting arguments of people who clearly know much more than me. I've watched Australia's friendlies and carefully read hundreds of reports of other teams' friendlies.

I still have no idea what's going to happen, and gain solace only that much better educated and informed football minds than mine clearly have little better idea.

The teams, however, are chosen. The friendlies have been had. In about 33 hours my son and I will be on a Qantas Aeroplane, leaving our beautiful city on... a holiday? My brother in law Michael struggled to find a word to give for what he wanted to wish well. An adventure? "A pilgrimage," I said, and thought that was as good as any. As every Muslim at some time in their life is obliged to make the journey to Mecca, I guess the soccer fan eventually is drawn to the World Cup.

Anyway it's time for me to do the stupid thing. On the right, near the top of the side bar is a link, "The World Cup Tipped." There you will find listed every game, from the groups through to the Final, with my predicted score. I will be giving myself (and Jacob if he plays) a point for a correct result and three points for a correct score. Same system as for the Bloggers' Cup, if anyone remembers.

If anyone wants to join in feel free. Just give tips in comments. You don't have to give them all at once, and I reserve the right to change my latter tips as the group stages unfold.

Now I'm not going to rationalise every choice I made. As I've said before I think there will be an extra element of randomness at this Cup, with some new and curious conditions. In general I think this will be hard on the Europeans, especially in the Group stages. This will be a Cup for the South Americans I believe, with a decent sub-staring role for the Africans.

Brazil will win as it did in Korea/Japan in 2002. I think this not merely because Brazil is obscenely talented with an international record second to none, but because it is travel-wise at the same time. If the players can make the transition from Brazil to Europe, as most have, they're going to be hard to surprise. Actually I think that's one of Australia's strengths as well.

I guess apart from Australia's remarkable success the most controversial thing I've predicted is that Germany and France will both bomb completely. For the former, despite a suicide, five injuries (including the Captain) and an arrest, despite showing some inconsistent form even before that, despite their team being relatively inexperienced, especially at the front, I just keep hearing the historical argument: they are a machine that always does well. It's not enough to convince me, especially given the destabilising conditions. Experience will mean everything at this World Cup.

The French, I insist, are cursed by the Irish, and I reckon the South Africans have come into form and into pride at just the right time to be lifted by their home crowd to a good group result.

Australia? Yes I've been rather optimistic there. Can I just add to the prediction that when Brazil beats Australia 4:1 in the Final, the Australian sports media will declare that the whole thing up to then was luck and that the game revealed once and for all that Pim was crap.

But I have chosen for Australia the path of unfinished business. By winning the group we shall go on to play the USA, second behind England in Group C. That I consider unfinished business - it's been far too long since Australia and the USA have had a good competitive match, and that last friendly just didn't satisfy. Winning that will have us up against Argentina in the Quarter Final, with the opportunity to fulfil Maradona's prophesy that we would have the tears of joy one day. By scraping through that (on penalties) we get to Italy. Now there we have real unfinished business. Once again, we just have to hold them and beat them in the penalty box. Crude, but I'm trying to envision the most likely scenario for success.

Anyway, there it is.

For a fantastically designed single-page guide to the World Cup, bookmark this.

For a brilliant, extremely professional tactical analysis of Australia's team, we are in debt to Zonal Marking. I've been hoping (I thought vainly) for this blog to do a feature on Australia and it came through. It includes pictures and fairly elaborate descriptions of what we might expect the different players to do.



Blogger greg said...

Have fun and stay safe in South Africa, and GO AUSTRALIA!

June 08, 2010 10:54 pm  

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