World Cup: Come on England, Spain… Er, anyone but Brazil, Germany, etc…..

Try as hard as I might, I cannot get worked up about this World Cup. But then having foolish chosen to follow Manchester City in my late primary school days (late sixties/early seventies), the experience of watching English soccer has always been more bitter than sweet for me. But Alberto from Tweetminster (who is looking forward to it) pointed me in the direction of this post of Chris’s which quotes research outlining how nations play football almost in a stereotypical manner:

…they found that the Germans are more likely to score in the last minute of a game. They did so in 5.5% of games. By contrast, Brazil did so in only 2.1% of their games and Italy in just 2.2% of them.
Germans, then, really do have a never say die attitude.  But so too do the Dutch and English; these too score in the last minute in more than one game in 20.

However, there’s a difference between Germany and England. Germany are more likely to concede in the last minute; they do so in 4.4% of games, whereas England have done so in only two of their last 232 competitive games. This suggests that German games become much more open in the last minute. This is in contrast to Italy, who have conceded just one last-minute goal in 267 games.

Then Alberto went on to point out that all but four times the World Cup has been won be Italy, Germany, Argentina or Brasil. And those were won by talented host countries: Uruguay (plus once – the so-called Maracanaço when they played in neighbouring Brasil), England and France.  Of the big four, only Brasil has won in a tournament held outside their own continent.

Ergo, it being unlikely that South Africa will win, on past form it should be Brazil.

Of course it is (like the Ireland rugby team’s fated inability to beat the All Blacks) a largely psychological problem for those outside ‘the golden four’. But one of the things England could do to usefully shorten the odds work on taking their penalties. Chris notes:

Germany really are better at penalties. In shoot-outs since 1960, they have scored with 94% of their penalties, whereas England have scored with just 50% and Italy with 65%.

If Capello can introduce a bit of German pyschological steel into the English team’s mentality (telling the English sports press pack – politely – to feck away off might help in that endeavour), and up their rate on penalty taking, then at 8/1 from Paddy Power I might even chance my money on our Saxon neighbours for once…

Personally, I would love to see Spain collect on their favourite status.  But as the research paper notes, if the difference in European teams in tactics and strategy becoming smaller, ‘fighting spirit’ is what defines the residual differences in national teams. And, sadly for me anyhow, when it comes to the World Cup, Spain (which is not included in the study) usually add up to something considerably less than the sum of their parts.  Moreso even than England.

Yet an upset in the eighty year form book would at least make it bit more interesting for some of us neutrals. I might even take the time to watch a few of the matches.

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  • I have the honour of acting as legal representative and archivist to one Willie Smith of the Shankill Road who died recently after an eventful life. Among his papers is one in which he confesses to being responsible for England winning the football World Cup in 1966. Please see my blog.

  • Anon

    Brazil are the only team to have won outside their own continent, not country.

    Spain are current European Champions and it isn’t a big assumption that they have overcome their choking problems. They know how to win, which helps substantially.

    England have taken too many injury knocks and dips in form since their impressive qualifying campaign. They do have the benefit of an easy draw though, so maybe semis.

  • Seymour Major

    I will be willing England on but Spain is certainly my next wish. I agree with the last comment. They now have that winning mentality. That is why I would make them favourites.

  • Argosjohn

    The Guardian had a good piece last time when Brazil knocked England out. The report said the Falls was scored in Brazilian flags and there a collective orgasm when the England keeper stuffed up.

    As Gary Lineker said: Football (sic) is a game where 22 men play for 90 minutes, after which Germany wins.

    Don’t rule out the Africans this time and let’s hope N Korea do a 1966 repeat.

  • What I do hate is the likes of the Oirish Sun and other ‘green’ tops going on about the Thierry Henri business. Apparently the Oirish Sun’s motto at present is anyone but the French…..

    Sure he set up a dubious goal – but Ireland could have had that game won several times had they taken their chances. It’s this faux patriotism of the Oirish Sun which is so petty. The motto of the newspaper should be ‘Xenophobia is Us’…..

  • EllTee

    When Uruguay won it outside their home country, they won it in Brazil, not Argentina. So it was more than just a trip across the River Plate.

    The 1950 World Cup was held in Brazil, with the big game held in the Maracana. It is the only World Cup without an official final game, as there was a 4 team league stage to decide the tournament winners.

    Argentina didn’t host the World Cup until 1978.

  • Driftwood

    Germany have never won the World Cup.

  • circles

    Explain of you can driftwood.

    Plenty of interest this time round for me. Would be nice to see: Italy fly home early as they didn’t deserve it last time; France to do badly and finally bury this Domenech era and get on with being likeable by the time the European Championship comes round; England not doing well for fear of having 2010 rammed down our throats in the way 1966 was / is (“oh they think it’s all over…” Actually yes – 44 years ago it was); Germany getting on well just to show that you don’t need multi-million price tag players to make a half decent team; and Spain win it.

    Bit of a eurocentric one – cos I don’t reckon Côte d’Ivoire will do anything.

  • Anon

    Germany inherited West Germany’s record when the country unified.

  • circles

    ach thats just a daft pub quiz bit of info DW

  • sammaguire

    Anon 9 June 2010 at 10:00 am
    Brazil are the only team to have won outside their own continent, not country.

    Argentina (South America) won it in Mexico (North America), 1986.

  • Driftwood

    Very nice to inherit trophies. So MK Dons can claim to have won the FA cup in their previous incarnation as Wimbledon?

    They do not deserve those 3 stars on the shirt.

    Serbia or Croatia, Russia or Czech Rep do not claim any Euro trophies under their old titles as Yugoslavia, Chechoslovakia, USSR etc.

    Anyhow, Brazil will beat England in the final.

  • Dec

    ,i>They do not deserve those 3 stars on the shirt.

    Serbia or Croatia, Russia or Czech Rep do not claim any Euro trophies under their old titles as Yugoslavia, Chechoslovakia, USSR etc.

    The difference being, Driftwood, all those other countries split into smaller independant Republics whereas Germany came about through unification of two states (one of which had won 3 World cups). Just be glad they didn’t unify earlier, they’d have won about 5 by now.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im still stunned by Mr Fealtys confession that he is a bitter blue 🙂
    As always I tend to go with Spain….which I expect ive said reguarly. They still look a bit fragile, lacking the steel of others and sustaining a high level for four weeks might be beyond always.
    I have an uneasy feeling about this World Cup. Terrorism or Other Disaster. Just a very uneasy feeling. North Korea???
    Hard to get worked up about some of the matches this time round.
    England? A news story more than a sports story.
    I understand there are tabloid headlines waiting to happen (ie put the boot in if they lose) and a different set of headlines waiting if they actually win.
    Theres a swagger about the England team which is either confidence or arrogance. I cant decide. Confidence could make them win it. Arrogance will destroy them.
    I still think Spain…or Holland…Or a Serbia-Croatia final would be interesting.

  • Oracle

    I don’t know who’ll win because FIFA put so much pressure on referees to get the result that FIFA want (Austrailia v Italy) a prime and recent example….

    But I think Serbia will be the talking team of the tournament, if they don’t get an inferiority complex it’ll take a Messi on top of his form to beat them

  • al

    The sooner England get put out the sooner I can enjoy football again.

  • union mack

    the draw won’t allow them both to make the final

  • Jean Meslier

    “..FIFA put so much pressure on referees to get the result that FIFA want (Austrailia v Italy) a prime and recent example….”
    Not forgetting France v Ireland of course.

    It seems Spain have a really talented squad with arguably the most potent strike force in the World at present.

    Now that David Villa is playing for Barca which is trendy lefties, revolutionaries, radicals, socialists, humanists, equalitarians and communitarians favourite other team – I will be observing him closely.

    However as someone who has always been able to quote the World Cup winners and the year they won from memory
    I would draw everyone to the fact that historically only four countries win the Trophy. So take your choice from Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Serbia – Croatia would be a very interesting final, particularly as Croatia haven’t qualified (or is there something Mr Fitz isn’t telling us). England have a chance but the tournament is maybe a year 18 months too late for them.

    If me life depended on it….Spain. Surprise Packets… Chile and Mexico.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yep…thats about the level of interest I have in 2010.

  • Mr. J

    U-S-A, U-S-A!!

    Mark my words, 15 or so years from now and the USA will have one of the best national teams in the world.

  • Oracle

    LOL aye I forgot about the French match

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I hope that player who ran around in her bra after scoring is playing for them.
    USA will have a good team in 15 years? Possibly.
    If they invade Mexico and annex South America ……..they have wanted to do that for nearly 200 years.

  • Mr. J

    Well, I figured that as soccer is rapidly growing in the States, and they invest so much money into their sport, they will be producing world class footballers in no time.

    However, invading and annexing everything south of Texas would be faster and, probably, cheaper.

  • redhugh78

    I’ll be backing the Argentinians purely because the English media absoloutely detest Maradonna, so to see him lift the world cup would be a delight for me.( and who ever france are playing)

  • Anon

    Actually I have a feeling Serbia inherent Yugoslavia’s record. Germany aren’t the only example in any case.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    You have about as much chance of lifting the World Cup yourself as Diego has.

  • Reader

    Through the luck of the draw I am holding tickets for Australia and Slovakia in a £32 sweepstake.
    What am I bid?

  • RepublicanStones

    I’d like to see England get to the latter stages. The Spaniards and the Dutch will bottle it again I fear. Ghana I was unfortunate enough to draw in the comp at work and Essien isn’t even fit !


  • I will probably look favourably on the doings of the Dutch as I have since the ’78 world cup. I think Spain could well do it, and if the standard of footie is close to the last European championships then we will be in for a treat.

  • Eire32

    We got two 87th minutes goals against Italy in the qualys. (i tink)

  • Peter Fyfe

    They have also produced a number of good keepers down the year to back this up. In the premier league alone, there was Keller Friedel Hannahmen Howar. It is quite a few when you consider the numver of outfield players they have given the premiership. I was impressed with Donovan’s spell at Everton and Dempsey does a fin job at Fulham. They are maybe not world beaters yet but I would not be suprised to see them win a world cup in my lifetime, with investment of course, though I am only 24.

  • Peter Fyfe

    I will make the very boring prediction that it belongs to the Brazilians. Dunga has shaped a team who were impressive in the confederations cup last year. They have one of the world’s finest keepers, the two best right backs and a general in Lucio who makes Roy Keane look meek. They do not seem as strong going forward but I am guessing Dunga thinks they can do the job or he would be taking Pato or Ronaldinho. Pretty weak reason but it is Dunga he has been quite successful so far in terms of results, I trust his judgement on this matter before mine.

    I would like to see Holland do well. I really like Van Persie and they have great creative players in Robben and Schnieder. They should be a treat to watch.

    I don’t want to rule out Spain actually I would love to see them win it. There is something special about there centre midfielders and forwards and 3 keepers and their defenders i would rate as very good. It is there weakest position though but that is hardly an insult. When you look at their ages and the young spaniards about they could be serious contenders for the next two or three. Maybe this will be the build up to future wins. You could say for the next two world cups after this cesc, torres, pedro, pique, busquets and iniesta will still be about. Add bojan who didnt make the squad and things are looking promising for the future. I admire their play and love to watch Xavi and iniesta, torres and cesc just make you smile with their brilliance but I don’t think they will hold everything together to win this tournament. Their depth of options in the centre of the park may just prove me wrong though.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    It is part of the rich cultural tradition of the island of Ireland to wish the worst on our large (historically) badly behaved neighbour and it is always difficult to decide what is the ideal stage to want them to go out. Nice and early of course is always fun but too early means expectations have not perhaps been raised sufficently and therefore the fall is not so enjoyable, of course if they leave it too late before they knocked out then there is always a chance things could go horribly wrong and they the might sneak it.

    So on balance the last 16 or the quarters is probably about right, but I fear it’s will be a nervy ride for us on this side of the Irish sea.

  • I dont care who wins it – I wont be watching. However from reading some of these comments, I think the better England do the less some will like it. In which case I can only admire the FRENCH…

  • Admire the (coughing and choking at the mere thought) French????

  • B O O

    Well, I cant get the world cup off the screen! And it hasnt even started yet.

    I think by tomorrow Im going to be stuck with Fox News!

    Anyway, we are not there, the English will bottle it, the French cant hope for divine help twice. The Italians will sit on one goal for a month. Who are we left with? South Americans or, oh yes Germany!!!

    You never know

  • It would be nice if a country which hadn’t won it before got lucky.

  • chewnicked

    Chile will win it

  • Argosjohn

    On a related matter, FIFA, according to yesterday’s Independent, will make a few billion $$ out of this, more than Southa Africa will. Is the GAA the only major sporting outfit not run by unregenerated facists?

    For me: I hope an African team , or ABE win it.

  • Turnpike

    Yes the progressive GAA.

    Certainly not a backward, bigoted, Catholic, sectarian organisation in spite of the evidence –

    • GAA founder Michael Cusack an anti-semite (if in any doubt refer to James Joyce’s Ulysses the character of the ‘Citizen’ is based on Cusack

    • “Kerins O’Rahilly’s” GAA club, Tralee, Co.Kerry, is named after Charlie Kerins the Nazi collaborator.

    • Provo rallies taking place in Casement Park.

    • The bigotry directed to Protestant Gaelic footballer Darren Graham

  • sammaguire

    Over 2,500 clubs and that’s all the dirt you could dig up! I believe there was a Nazi sympathiser in the Ballygillhooly Gaels Under 16s team circa 1940 shock horror…they’re all scum…my lot are great…yawn. Get a life!

  • Turnpike

    Shame Ireland didn’t qualify for the World Cup, it may have finished off that sordid organisation off for good.

  • Comrade_Trotsky

    “Shame Ireland didn’t qualify for the World Cup, it may have finished off that sordid organisation off for good.”

    Unlikely. For example – “In 2003, 60% of all attendances to sports events in Ireland were to Gaelic games (34% of the total to football and 23% to hurling). Soccer was the closest rival with 16%.”

  • ChiChan

    [Edited] ridiculous to compare Germany with Yugoslavia or the USSR.

    West Germany is still part of present Germany for your information. They just got East Germany back.

    Russia,, Serbia are the opposite. They are/were just a part of the USSR, Yugoslavia. So nowadays they just represent a part of the former countries. Whereas West Germany is still fully represented by present Germany.

    I hope you see now, that your logic is majorly flawed. If not you are indeed retarded beyond repair.

  • Football pundit Alan Hansen has just commented at the end of this afternoon’s match that the best part of tonight’s world cup football programme is not being on it.

    I suggest the BBC sack him forthwith. Paying an inflated salary for cliched punditry is bad enough but said pundit biting the hand that feeds him is juvenile and shows disrespect to the viewers and the BBC.

    Righteous anger.
    Compare our pundits to the likes of studio guests Jurgen Klinssmann and Clarence Seedorf; it is embarassing. They are culturally aware, do not whinge constantly about the noise, and offer more than “you can’t expect to get away with mistakes at this level” or “Messi is a world class performer for Barcelona but can he do it in a Argentinian shirt”. My dog could offer up better bones to chew on.

    High dudgeon.
    Give Hansen the red card. He may be tired of us but little does he know we tired of him a long long time ago. And take your pal AL with you!! (and I’m Toon army ).

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    well said – he’s a useless fecker sometimes not even bothering to actually say anything but just giving his funny “I told you so look” instead. No insight and no proper analysis – only thing in his favour is that he is Scottish and can be relied upon to dis the Englezes- but red card nevetheless.

  • Brian

    Gaelic football is too exciting.

  • Brian

    North Korean fans are really Chinese “volunteers”.


  • Dixie

    Crap England World Cup songs are bad enough but I see they’ve released a bloody Compilation Disc/LP of the fecking things.

    Listening to the match commentators prattle on about 1966 and ‘The Hand of God’ has England winning the World Cup up there with global warming….Nobody really believes it’ll happen, but there’s a danger it will and when it does we’re all f-cked!

  • Hello Dixie and sammy

    I take it you won’t be watching tonight then.

    As for those N Korean fans Brian , don’t you know everything is made in China these days [check your local Tesco]