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Monday, July 03, 2006

WC2006: Converging-to-zero football

The knockout stages of a tournament always bring about a peculiar transformation. Suddenly it's not so important to win. Suddenly it's more important not to lose.

Thus we see England's 4-5-1 and Brazil's distinctively un-Brazilian style of play. Thus we see several matches going to penalties. Thus we see an average of 1.875 goals per round of 16 match falling to 1.25 goals per quarterfinal.

In retrospect, it was particularly strange in England's case. Having taken risks with his squad, Sven was unwilling to take risks on the pitch. His play-it-safe attitude led to the same result for the third time in a row. No surprise there, TDH now supposes.


The trends in play have been interesting. France jumped up several notches, from mediocrity to world-beating. Germany have been steadily playing above their level. And Italy seem to be gradually turning up the current. The question in each case is, can they maintain it? TDH bets that Italy's answer will be "yes." For the others, who knows? Can Zidane possibly have two more games like Saturday's left in his 34-year-old body?


The Schadenfreude in Buenos Aires after Brazil's defeat has been unbelieveable.


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