Group A&B projections
Yesterday was completed the second round of the group plays and we are halfway thru the tournament with 32 out of total of 64 games already behind us.
This post is going to shed some light on:
- Qualification for Round 16 chances. Who has already qualified and who has to fight to qualify, who is already doomed to pack and go home and who still has the chances to fight their way thru Round 16.
- What will be teams' motivations regarding qualifications from the first or the second place and what will be the subsequent match ups.
- What can we expect at the completion of Round 16 and who will most probably advance to the Quarterfinals.
So, we have few things absolutely clear and the others highly probable or in question:
Russia and Uruguay will become A1 and A2 and the order will be decided today after their match with each other. Draw or a win by Russia will rank Russia as A1 . Uruguay will need a win to become A1, otherwise it will be ranked as A2.
In the Group B we have Spain and Portugal as the probable two to qualify for Round 16. The way it set up the winner of Group A will be play the runner up from Group B and the winner of Group B will play a Runner up from Group A.
Today's games are Saudi Arabia vs Egypt - the meaningless game for us but a very meaningful for the Arab world. Egypt must take this one easily with arsenal of the players playing all over European teams.
Russia and Uruguay will not know who will win Group B and who will be a runner up so they can't possibly have any aspirations to finish the first or the second. I expect both teams to take this one easy and Russia win or draw.
So, the leans on Group a games are Egypt and Russia or Draw.
Group B is full of tension as nothing is yet decided although I have a hard time believing Iran will beat the reigning European Champions and Christiano Ronaldo.
Two game and the leans are Portugal and Spain, both advance.
Russia Win or Draw - that didn't happen, we know that as Russia lost 0-3 to Uruguay. But, Russia and Uruguay did qualify.
Updated on June 25
Egypt Win - the most corrupted game I have seen in this World Cup when the ref was clearly on the Saudi payroll fixating two factious penalty kicks in Saudi favor and then the Egyptians themselves simply helping Saudis score right before the end of the game. So many Egyptian fans spent their life savings to go to Russia and support their National team and as always in Arab world - the players just sold them out.
Spain Win or Draw - well, what you know? It was a draw. And those of you who think that Spain was so weak - let me tell you few things about Pique. He is the address as it seems to your wishes regarding Spain performing as the Catalan he couldn't care less and who will remember how he fouled Ronaldo before the 3-3 free kick and who will remember how he first tried to create a penalty and only after it did not work he opened the free air for the ball to reach the head of the Moroccan guy who scored. No. Spain was not weak. But, Morocco was very strong and if they wouldn't have that naivety accompanying every Arab team where the players no matter where grown up lack the maturity on professional level - if not that we would see this Moroccan team much further in the tournament than finishing the fourth in this group. And they call Group C Group of Death?
Portugal Win or Draw - oh man. This game was something to watch for the regular Joe who did not have a wager on it since it had all the drama textbook in it. VAR (Video Assistant Referee) initiated penalties when the right one was missed and the wrong one kicked in. We had Quaresma goal with the back of the foot. We had Iranian players almost winning the game and we did hit here too with a draw.
Now we move to another day while all four as predicted qualified and now we have some interesting natch ups in Round 16 while the Spaniards will take on host nation Russia and Portugal will have to withstand Uruguay.
R16 June 30 21:00 (Russian Time which is 7 hours earlier than EST)
Uruguay vs Portugall
R16 July 1 17:00 (Russian Time which is 7 hours earlier than EST)
Spain vs Russia
Let me start with this: if all 4 games will end in a draw - France will advance from Group C first place and will play second place from Group D which in that case will be Nigeria. The other Round 16 pairing in case of 4 draws will be Croatia vs Denmark.
But, Australia, Iceland and mostly Argentina - they would all object that scenario,
So, do we have someone who guaranteed their advance and the place? Yes, France needs a draw to qualify from the first place and will qualify from the second if loses to Denmark which in that case will qualify from the first place.
Denmark needs a draw to qualify for sure from the second, a win to qualify from the first and if loses - there is a slight chance Denmark won't qualify at all if Australia will beats Peru and will maintain the more goals scored tiebreaker over Denmark if both - Australia wins with minimal score and Denmark will lose with minimal score.
But, most practically - France and Denmark will qualify while France won't take any chances to meet Argentina in Round 16 in case Argentina will beat Nigeria and will still qualify from the second place in Group D.
So, the game between France and Denmark can end with any of the three results and we can not really know what will go in the French or Danish dressing rooms - so we will leave that game alone with conviction that French won't go for a win in any case wanting European team to advance on top of non European as that is UEFA code. We may take first half bet that I am keeping under belt right now as this is a public post.
Australia will want to beat the Peruvians, but, won't be able as Peru is certainly capable of winning this match up. We won't touch that game either.
Now, the Group D gets really tricky.
Croatia, which has guaranteed itself a spot in Round 16 will know the results from Group C and will try to avoid France at any cost. That means a draw or even a minimal loss to Iceland will still see them from the first place in case France will take the first place in Group C. I'm sure the French and the Croatians are talking thru mediators between them and if the French will get assurance Iceland will get thru from the second place, then the French will do the effort to finish first. In any other case the French will have options.
In the other game of the Group D - Argentina must beat Nigeria and hope Iceland doesn't beat Croatia, because Iceland has a better goal difference than Argentina and Messi and the Co will have to beat Nigeria by a considerable difference. Will that happen? I do not think so. Sampaoli is hated by his own players and lost the dressing room.
Here too the best options for betting lay within the first halves and the cards.
Ok. So, as predicted: France and Denmark qualified from Group C and Croatia and Argentina from Group D
And, now we all know the names of all the teams that have qualified. Germany is out as a big surprise. Japan qualifies ahead of Senegal. Please see the new post on Round 16 and up.