Today’s footie

June 30, 2014 • 5:54 am

Here’s today’s schedule. Since I can watch only one game, perhaps it’ll be Deutschland vs. Algeria, though I’d like to see France and Nigeria,too. Whichever one I watch has, however, already been determined by the laws of physics.

There is no contest today for readers to guess winners, nor will there be another besides the Big Contest still in force (who plays in the final game, and who wins by what score), but please feel free to tender your predictions below, including scores.

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Once again I suggest that penalty kicks are no way to end a tied football match. What’s the rationale for this? They could just add successive fifteen-minute overtimes until someone scores. In baseball, a game can go on for twenty or more innings in case of a tie (the standard length is nine innings). When a team wins that way, at least the game has been played all the way in the same way. Penalty kicks are unsatisfactory, for even readers who think they should be kept seem dissatisfied with games settled that way.

End of rant; what do I know?

Some fuzzy highlights of yesterday’s heartbreaker for Mexico, who lost 2-1 to Netherlands:

And Costa Rica’s victory over Greece (1-1 in regulation time and overtime; settled by penalty kicks). The first Costa Rican goal looked lame to me; the Greek keeper just stood there. But I didn’t watch the game.

Today’s Google Doodle suggests that they’re running out of ideas for animations, but we have more than a week to go!

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61 thoughts on “Today’s footie

    1. I think the Greek goalie was unsighted – he had a defender in his line of sight with the Cota Rican. Still he should have done better.

  1. I don’t really like penalties either, but if you just continue playing it stops being about the game and it simply becomes a contest of fitness/endurance/stamina.
    So yeah, I’m gonna stick with the shoot-out.

      1. They did have a golden goal in extra time thing about fifteen years ago. First team to score won. Not quite sure why they got rid of it.

        My suggestion would be to get rid of the off-side rule during extra time. It would open up the field a bit more if nothing else.

        1. Because losing a goal would be utterly catastrophic, teams defended in depth and wouldn’t commit men forward leading t lots of 0-0 extra times and more penalty shoot outs.

    1. Yeah, I think after you have already extended the game, it just gets cruel, especially if you don’t have substitutions.

  2. The laws of physics? Not so fast, professor. The whole Algeria is, right now, engaged in a personal one to one conversation with Allah to determine tonight’s game.

    1. I think the Catholic countries and players are at least as likely to seek divine intervention as Algeria. Why are you so Islamophobic? (yes, that last bit was sarcasm).

      1. I’m no more Islamophobic than I am Catholic-ophobic – and that includes my own family.

        I’ve decided I’m going to support the team with the nicest kit and the fewest tattoos. Step forward, Germany. Their black and red hooped away kit is the business and, as my son observed, none of the team against the USA had a visible tattoo.

        1. It was surprising to see Germany play in these colours, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them play in black/red. Only in white, green and the occasional black.

          Marco Reus has a tattoo. His name and birth date (in case he forgets, I guess). And so do Boateng & Podolski.

  3. Costa Rica to the quarter-finals. They are shaping up as a nice Cinderella team to route for.

    1. I already predicted a France Belgium fianl (!) so I will say France to beat Nigeria 2-0 & Algeria to overturn Germany & face France in another grudge match!

      Don’t forget, the infamouse 1-0 that let Germany & Austria progress also meant Algeria did not!

  4. I do not have a strong opinion about football, but it strikes me that penalty kicks have a marked downside which is that it encourages players to ‘flop’ dramatically to the ground at the least stumble with an opposing player.
    The last 5 minutes of the Netherlands/Mexico game are a fine example where blatant flopping can fool a ref into rewarding a penalty kick, and thereby turn a game around.

    1. There has been the usual shedload of diving at the tournament, but the Holland penalty wasn’t one of them. The ref had refused to accept several dives earlier so even Robben had given up throwing himself to the floor and we saw him run through some tackles instead, making a far better game of course.

  5. I also like the idea of continuing to play until there is a winner (without PKs), but I think removing one player from each side for each overtime period would add excitement and reduce the time of the game. It also adds strategy about which player/position to remove. And the idea of watching a four on four or five on five game on a regulation size field is very interesting.

    1. Exactly agree.
      Or bigger goals – moveable posts that are timed to get wider & wider as extra time progresses!

    2. Could be funny to watch (removing players) but right now, you actually forfeit the game if you end up with less than 7 players (I think).
      I don’t know if that actually happened on a professional level though.

      France 2 – 0 Nigeria (I hope)
      Germany 2 – 1 Algeria (I’m afraid), after extra-time

      1. Ohhhh, c’mon!!!!

        The only time I’m right and there’s nothing to win??
        Right to the “extra-time” point…

        Oh well, at least France is qualified 😉

  6. I disagree about the penalty kicks. I like them more than overtime to be honest as I think it is redundant to send the tired players back to go play some more when the score hasn’t been settled after 90 minutes of football.

    Let’s bust one myth to begin with: Penalty kicks are not about luck. They require a special set of skills from the players and goalkeepers, but they are absolutely fair. The team with the better combination of goalkeeper and penalty shooters (on that day) will win. And the drama is brilliant.

    As a supporter of England’s national team, I have been left disappointed by penalty shootouts almost every single time, but I still think they are absolutely an integral part of the tournament football experience.

    I think the reason why people typically feel dissatisfied by penalty shootouts is if the team who generally performed better, loses. But I say that if they didn’t manage to score more goals during regular time, there are no excuses. Many football games are won by teams who manage to create fewer chances anyway if they just use them better. Nothing’s different.

    Penalty kicks are great.

    1. I think it should go on yellow/red cards – take the average over the previous 10 games say. That might be an inducement to better behaviour.

    2. Ditto’ed.

      As a fan I’ve always loved penalty shootouts even though many regard it as unfair and random. It simply isn’t. There’s technical skill and a load of psychological factors that makes it very intriguing to witness, imo.

      Requiring teams to play on endlessly until a goal, especially in a tournament setup where there’s more games to come a few days later, doesn’t appear to me to be any more fair than a shootout. In fact it might be considered unfair towards the team that goes through because they have to play again regardless of how many hours their previous match lasted and their opponent could have gone through in 90 minutes.

      Unless there’s an upper limit on match time I could see pure endurance plaiyng a much bigger part of the game than it does now and I worry it would affect the quality of play in negative direction. More coincidences occur when the players are exhausted and I don’t think more game-time would result in more “fair” outcomes and improve the game.

      I wonder what hockey fans think about shootouts, though?

      Do you guys consider them unfair or random?

      1. NHL uses shootouts after 5 min of 4-4 sudden death play during the regular season and drops them for the playoffs.

        Unfair or random? No, they’ve grown on me and can make sense given scheduling and footy is demanding with the near constant running…

    3. Second that, if penalty shootouts really were random, it wouldn’t always be the usual suspects winning and losing them… 🙂
      Also, successive rounds of extra time do one thing foremost: drain out both sides, so that whoever wins won’t be fit in time for the next round in a knockout tournament.
      Besides, “Golden Goal” has been done, once. It didn’t matter, Germany won that one too 🙂

    4. I do not mind penalty kicks either. Very stressful, even if you are not routing for a team. Though, I do not mind putting the players through extra time…better athletes should have better endurance.

  7. Looks like two decent games today.

    Hopefully Nigeria and Algeria will open their matches full-throttle and get a quick goal forcing their opponents to some offensive ball…

    Nigeria 1 – 3 France
    Germany 2 – 0 Algeria

    1. So far. You may have the good scores… but the wrong games 😉

      Nigeria 0 – 2 France

      Allez les bleus!

      I would prefer that Algeria win, but Germany is a safer bet.

      Desnes

      1. The French have the best kit. Nike seems to have done a better job than Adidas on the design side – not sure I like the form-fitting Puma tops.

        Keeper play seems to be a major plus this tournament. M’Bohli kept Algeria in the match today and Neuer was great at stopping speedy counterattacks.

  8. Greece had more good chances against Costa Rica than they’ve had in all the other games I’ve seen them play put together, but the Costa Rica keeper won it for his team almost single handedly.

    A penalty shoot-out is the least bad way anyone has yet come up with. Golden goal extra time looked like a good idea until it was actually tried, and we all realised we didn’t like it. Playing till you score would almost certainly be the same only worse.

  9. Ultimately I’d leave it up to a vote by the players themselves (kicks or extra time).

    One thing you might consider, Jerry, is that for a tournament like this, it is in the players’ best interests to end the game fast. They don’t want to go into the next game having played many more hours than their opponents have, that can be a serious disadvantage. You don’t want a repeat of the Isner/Mahut situation (in tennis), where Wimbledon’s “play to the end” rule essentially caused the winner to lose any chance of winning the tournament. Keeping players of two teams out on the field significantly longer than the other teams in the tournament doesn’t just lead to ‘one legitimate victor,’ it arguably also leads to ‘two tournament losers.’

  10. I don’t know what the rationale for ending with a kick-off is, but mine would be that after 90 minutes of running back and fourth, added time from the ref, and then an extra time round, the teams are too exhausted to be expected to last another extra time round. It becomes less a matter of skill and just an matter of probably-uninteresing endurance.

  11. I’m afraid you have to blame the Irish Football association (my home association), and more specifically William McCrum for the ‘innovation’ of the penalty kick:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_McCrum

    Although, admittedly, I think someone else took a perfectly good idea for how to deter professional fouls in open play (the last defender scything down and attacker who was likely to score) and applied it to a shoot out as a way to decide a game.

    FIFA did trial the golden goal method whereby in the event of a draw in regular time, the first team to score a goal from open play in the extra time periods were automatically declared the winners – I think the Germans were the first to benefit fro this in the final of the 1996 Euro Chmapionships against the Czech Republic.

    The goldne goal seemed to be abandoned however because the unfortunate result was that many (but not all) teams sat back and showed no attacking adventure or desire to score since there was no chance of riposte to a golden goal. It seemed many players would rather endure the torment of penalties than go out to a single score from their opponents that they couldn’t reply to.

  12. The penalty shoot-out does seem to be the best way to end a tournament match after extra time.

    If you keep on extending play you get more football, but it’s usually pretty bad football, since the players are generally knackered and playing defensively. It’s even worse if you use the golden goal because the risk of being knocked out for conceding means teams just park the bus.

    Penalties aren’t as nice to watch as open play, but I think the added tension more than makes up for that. After two hours of running about without a winner it all comes down to ten (or so) kicks and ten attempts to save.

  13. I’ve also often thought penalty shoot outs are rather hideous. (Even a Germany fan – Germany always seems to win them!) But the one guy who kisses is heat broken and at times hated. I really don’t like the amount of pressure people are put under.

    In the Euro a while ago they tried out a “golden goal” concept for Extra Time – as soon as someone scores, the game is over. I find that also rather unpleasant, because it happens so suddenly and if you lose, there’s no chance of coming back.

    Actually in the US several decades ago there was a system where instead of penalties, it would be one on one in half the playing field — one striker and the goal keeper. The striker gets the ball on the half way line, and has to beat the keeper. Not a bad idea, I thought.

    In any case, I think a system would be better if it was harder to score, and a goal scorer would be the hero, rather than the guy who misses, being the fool.

  14. Football can not be compared to baseball. The physical toll would be extreme. On the next game, if a team had played a long overtime it would almost it would almost certainly loose.

    There is another reason, for not increasing overtime: during overtime it is noticeable the increase in dangerous fouls, players are slower and tend to arrive I’ve a little late. The injuries alone would should be enough to veto this strategy.

    Someone mentioned the golden goal. It was a nice idea but with bad results: the cost of attacking was too high so most games would end up in penalty kicks any way. By the way this caution during overtime is already noticeable.

    There used to be nice alternative in some tournaments in Brazil until the 60’s: if there was a draw the team with most corner kicks won. This is interesting because if you have many corner kicks, it means you were attacking.

    Paulo

    1. Yes, I remember the corner kick rule. That was probably fair, but just felt anti-climactic at the end, with an official adding them up and declaring a winner based on a statistic. Just didn’t feel right.

      What I’d recommend is moving the penalty mark further away from the goal, to the top of the penalty arc, say, so that the goalie had a better chance.

        1. It doesn’t *matter* in the sense you seem to mean, but it arguably would make it more interesting and exciting. As it is, the keeper generally guesses left or right and dives in that direction hoping to block the shot (because there’s not enough time to see where it is kicked and then react if the ball is kicked hard). With a longer shot, there’d be more skill and less luck involved in making a save.

  15. I disagree about keeping on playing instead of penalty shoot-outs. It might work well in ice hockey, but even there have been games with six overtimes (I remember the Pittsburgh Penguins having to go through that) and people falling asleep in the stands. My brother calls 0:0, 1:0, 1:1 in ice hockey “soccer results”, and it’s not a big leap to imagine 0:0 in overtime for another 90 minutes to happen often. These are tournaments with games every few days, (even hours considering the next game to start). Perhaps playing corner kicks instead of shots from 11 meters would make it more attractive!

    My predictions for today’s footie:
    FRA-NGA 2:1
    GER-ALG 3:0

    BTW, Switzerland’s victory over Honduras was not as surprising as you make it sound like. Especially all the Swiss knew it the whole time. 😉

  16. Well, it would be very expensive all round to let a game go on for as long as it must in overtime, till there’s a victor.

    I don’t ever want to see something again like the Isner-Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon.
    (from Wikipedia: “11 hours, 5 minutes of play over three days, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games. ”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isner%E2%80%93Mahut_match_at_the_2010_Wimbledon_Championships

  17. The most important reason why they have penalty shoot-outs is the TV schedule. You can’t have matches going on indefinitely.

  18. Penalties are fine if they are a RARE way of determining the winner. There was a World Cup where 3 of the 4 quarter finals were decided by penalties (relying on memory here). That’s obviously unsatisfactory. The problem is in the ‘knock out’ stages when play becomes much tighter. In the group stages a win is 3x better than a draw. It’s reflected in the commitment (or lack of) to attacking play. The solution is to make it easier to score and therefore make draws rarer.

  19. I would certainly disagree with the randomness, or chance factor. As pointed out above, there are teams who seem to win far more than others, Germany springing to mind. Whether this is a psychological thing, or simply a greater level of skill is open to debate, but it certainly takes all the attributes of any great sportsman – skill, mental strength and concentration.

    England are notoriously bad, and I remember one manager (could’ve been Hoddle..?) specifically not practising penalties as he felt it was negative to prepare for not winning the game outright. That turned out as badly as one would expect.

    My favourite penalty taker of recent times is Yaya Toure. To the uninitiated, his penalties may seem unspectacular – none of this spanking it into the top corner – just a gentle stroke. But he invariably sends the keeper the wrong way by waiting until the final possible moment – for the keeper to make his mind up by going one way or the other, and picking his spot based on the keepers movement. Much more difficult than it sounds. It’s almost a game of chicken between the taker and the keeper.

  20. I don’t know Jerry. I think penalties are great, and the perfect end to a tied game. If neither team can get the deciding goal after 120 minutes, settle it once and for all with 5 spot kicks. I don’t think anyone can argue about “deserving” to win, then. Best team wins! Tension, emotion, psychology, skill. A great end. 🙂

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