It’s time for tactlessness: Some of these teams shouldn’t be here.

Switzerland 2 Ecuador 1 · Didn’t catch it. One of these guys might even make it out of group phase; then they’ll get mangled instantly and unemorably. So, why are they here? I’m not sure what the right number of teams for the World Cup tournament is, but the quality of some of these matches is evidence that 32 is too high.

France 3 Honduras 0 · I watched some but then wandered off. Neither side was putting a world-class show, which is what the World Cup is supposed to be about. I saw no evidence to affect my opinion of France’s chances, either way.

Argentina 2 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1 · Messi may be ultrawonderful, but when he’s standing still surrounded by three defenders he’s just a guy who’s about to lose the ball. Yeah, that was a fine run&goal, but what about the other 88 minutes?

Also, if Argentina lets a world-class offense wander up and down the right offensive margin, after letting it drift forward over center unchallenged, the way they let the Bosnians do today, they’ll be getting some nasty surprises.

Here’s how this game was: If both keepers had brought mattresses and taken the opportunity for an extended nap, it’s not clear the score would have changed.

Time to turn up the heat.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Henrik Wist (Jun 16 2014, at 00:16)

Tim,

thanks for these match summaries, I highly enjoy them (especially for the games I actually watched as well).

Keep'em coming!

And yes, 32 teams might be too many, but then again you would end up without any underdog, and those are part of the fun!

Cheers,

Henrik

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From: Johnny Hall (Jun 16 2014, at 04:38)

Switzerland are ranked 6th in the world right now.

http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/

They might not, in reality, be the 6th best team, but they definitely must have done something right to get so high up.

They are actually one of the seeded teams - they beat Italy to the last berth.

FIFA's ranking system is terrible, but Switzerland definitely deserve to be there.

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From: Hubert (Jun 16 2014, at 15:10)

For France - Honduras, I suggest you actually watch the whole match. After a laborious start, the French's passing game dramatically improved.

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From: GiacomoL (Jun 19 2014, at 16:14)

The current formula with 32 teams is simple and straightforward enough, so I don't see it changing (and certainly not towards *reducing* the number of teams, which is always a commercial sacrifice). Crappy teams are inevitable anyway, once you try to distribute places in a fair way across continents (Europe and South-America are still grossly over-represented, but threatening Asian and African teams are emerging with more continuity now).

With 32 teams, you have a group-phase that's not too complicated to follow (I remember the times of "two best-thirds across all groups"...) and a consistent knockout phase (I also remember the late-70s/early-80s experiments with multiple group-phases). There is a reason why this structure is very similar to the Champions League: it balances excitement and competition very well.

It's a bit like the Olympics: you know Jamaican bobsledders aren't going to win many medals, but having them around is part of the fun.

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