Four of the sixteen are in, four more out. Lots of drama even if some of the football was a little stinky.
Brazil and Colombia · So the hosts got (just barely) past Chile. At this point, I’ll honestly be surprised if they get past Colombia, and if they do, they’ll be crushed by whichever of France or Germany emerges from that side of the bracket. Neymar and Oscar? They aren’t, and the defense is frankly porous. I suppose the result’s qualitatively fair in that neither team really dominated the other, but I felt awfully bad for Chile. And the shootout itself was sort of lacklustre, what with shots wide of the goal and straight at the keeper.
Colombia’s disposal of Uruguay (which I didn’t see) was the only real no-surprise-here Day 1 result.
Netherlands and Costa Rica · I was emotionally OK with either the Dutch or the Mexicans advancing here, but I wish it’d been decided a little more cleanly. I think the Mexican exit robs the tournament of its single most impressive defense, which is good for us spectators; but still, I wish the brackets had let them go deeper.
I guess I’ve been underestimating the Greeks; their game may be slow and ugly but they’ve managed to make some really good teams (in which I include the Ticos) look bad. Whatever, good riddance to ’em. And you can sneer at shootouts all you want, but Navas’ save at 1:25 in this highlights video is one for the ages. Anyhow, I wish the Ticos luck against Holland; they’ll need it.
Did Robben Dive? · Well, it’s complicated. Go look at the video in this BusinessInsider write-up. Really, go look. So, it’s like this:
Robben turns in from the baseline.
Marquez steps on Robben’s left foot with his right foot. That’s a foul; it’s gonna get called every time, assuming the ref sees it.
Robben goes into full-extension dive mode, soles of both boots pointed at the sky.
The question I have is: Could Robben have got his right foot planted again and kept moving? If so, did he make a decision that going for the penalty was a better bet than driving on with the ball? Or was he gonna faceplant anyhow after he got stepped on; and just dressed it up a bit?
The answers have ethical import and highlight a big problem in FIFA-regime football. Not just the diving-and-simulating problem, but the extreme lack of punishment granularity; is there a way to disincent fouls in the box without offering the other side a nearly-certain goal?
Having said that: If Robben gets loose with the ball in your penalty area, bad things are gonna happen.
Going forward, on this side of the bracket, I suspect Costa Rican pluck won’t get them past the Dutch and win them the right to face the dreaded Messi posse; which constitutes a prediction about that side too.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Reinout van Rees (Jun 30 2014, at 00:28)
Disclosure: I'm Dutch. Consensus among the people I was watching the game with was that Robben went down a bit too theatrically, but that it was a real foul. Not a heavy one, but legally callable.
Robben should have gotten a realer penalty at the end of the first half (but didn't so that more than cancels out any doubt imho). One defender kicks Robben's ankle, removing the ball from Robben's foot. 0.5 second later a second defender (Moreno) slides Robben's feet away. Not a subtle sliding either: later it turned out Moreno broke his leg...
In the end, Robben should have had at least 1.4 penalty, so one penalty is OK :-)
From: Hanan Cohen (Jun 30 2014, at 05:47)
Nate Silver still gives Brazil 41% chance to win the world cup while Argentina, in the second place, get 16%.
I regret not taking a screenshot of the predictions before the games began.
From: Adam (Jun 30 2014, at 09:29)
I'm far from a football expert, but it certainly looks to me (and I felt the same way real-time) that Roben is planning on going to the ground immediately following his last touch no matter what happens. He's never getting to that ball again, as he's in the middle of 5 Mexican defenders. He knows he's done well to get where he is, but there's nowhere else to go.
Certainly his foot gets stepped on, but there seems to be a problem with the rules when that small mishap results in, as you say, a nearly certain goal from a situation where the Dutch had no real chance of scoring without the foul.
From: Fidel Orozco (Jun 30 2014, at 10:01)
Been from Mexico I'm biased in my opinion, but here it is: I expected a closed game play where the winner would not emerged from penals like in the Brazil-Chile. That is a extremely random and unfair result. But what I no expected to see is the use of cheap dive trick from a skillfull player like Robben. I expected better from Netherlands.
From: Bryan (Jun 30 2014, at 13:36)
(Disclosure: I'm of Colombian descent.)
I agree with earlier comments that Robben's real penalty shout was in the first half; the one that was ultimately called at the end of the game was a bit soft but in fairness, much more questionable PKs have been awarded. (I'd also argue Robben could've been carded for simulation at some point in the match, but that's a call that few refs seem interested in making.)
As for disincentivising fouls in the penalty area, that's tough; you could narrow the definition of what fouls result in a PK and say, award a free kick from a spot outside the box but I suspect that would make PK calls much more subjective than they should be (already are?). Technically, the threat of a yellow card should be disincentive enough considering the cost of getting a second one (i.e. red card and ejection from the game); many defenders will play more cautiously once they've been carded, which in turn means the opposing team may be able to better create scoring chances. That's a pretty stiff price on its own, especially in a single-elimination tournament like the World Cup.