World Cup Knockout Stage Predictions

It’s win or go home time. Down to the final 16, and there are some big surprises that made it out of the group stage (as there are every world cup). Here’s how I see the knockout stage shaking out:

Brazil vs. Chile
Brazil hasn’t lost a competitive home match since 1975. Even with how well Chile has been playing and the talent they have on their roster, I don’t see this being the time that streak ends. It will be close though, but Neymar scores the game winner.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Chile 1 

Netherlands vs. Mexico
After an ugly qualifying performance that left them a Graham Zusi goal away from qualifying, Mexico has rebounded under Miguel Herrera. They are playing attractive football and creating chances. Guillermo Ochoa saved their bacon against Brazil, and this team has a fighting chance against the Netherlands. Robin van Persie is back for the Dutch side who have looked very strong in the group stage. I think this goes into extra time, and from there either side can win.
Prediction: Mexico 3, Netherlands 2 a.e.t.

Colombia vs. Uruguay
It’s hard for me to see Uruguay responding positively after the Suarez incident, the whole country is crushed and deflated. Colombia has been one of the best teams in the group stage and they roll here.
Prediction: Colombia 3, Uruguay 0

Costa Rica vs. Greece
Did I just write that?! If you had this matchup predicted, you should be in Vegas right now. Oh, but I did put two bucks down on Costa Rica winning the group (although I did not predict that in a previous post) for a $100 dollar return. Anyway, the combination of Campbell and Ruiz for Costa Rica has been a big reason they made it this far, and they continue to roll over a defensive minded Greek side that needed a last minute penalty just to get here.
Prediction: Costa Rica 2, Greece 0

France vs. Nigeria
Nigeria did just enough to get through, but their just enough is going to be no match for a very strong French side that is firing on all cylinders. Benzema bags a brace, Valbuena with another and Les Bleus roll.
Prediction: France 3, Nigeria 0

Argentina vs. Switzerland
Although their defense looked like it had more holes than their cheese against France, I think the Swiss have a chance here. Argentina has been wholly underwhelming despite earning all 9 points after the group stage. Without Messi, this side might not even have made it out of the group stage. Switzerland is a small step up from Nigeria, Iran, and Bosnia. This one is tough to call…
Prediction: Argentina 1 (4), Swizterland 1 (3) in a Penalty Shootout

Germany vs. Algeria
The Algerians are another surprise team to make it to the round of 16, but unlike Costa Rica, their road ends here. The Germans are several levels above this Algerian squad. They’ve put up a great run, but it ends here at the hands of Müller et al.
Prediction: Germany 4, Algeria 0

United States vs. Belgium
Belgium, like Argentina, is another team that earned all 9 points despite looking rather pedestrian. Belgium led for all of 24 minutes in the group stage, and played three dreadful matches (I deleted all the Belgian games from my DVR). The United States is motivated, they fight for each other, and while possibly lack the talent Belgium has, does not lack in teamwork, passion, and national pride. I believe that we will win.
Prediction: USA 3, Belgium 1

Quarterfinals and Beyond
I won’t give any descriptions of the picks from this point forward, but here’s how I see the rest of the tournament shaking out (I will create a new post as we advance toward each round).

Colombia 2 (5) Brazil 2 (3) in a Penalty Shootout
Germany 3 France 2
Costa Rica 1 Mexico 0
Argentina 2 United States 1 a.e.t.

Germany 2 Colombia 1
Argentina 2 Costa Rica 0

Third place and Finals
Colombia 2 Costa Rica 0
Germany 3 Argentina 1

Fun Stuff: May (and some June) Edition

Okay people, I know it is almost July.  Work has been absolutely nuts and we’ve both been traveling like its going out of style.  Here’s what we’ve been up to for the last month (and some)!

Nick went to Denmark for work, and I was lucky enough to be able to go along.  We had a great time wandering around Copenhagen and enjoying the local culture.  We capped the trip off with a visit to my aunt and uncle’s house in Geneva.  The picture below is from a day trip we took to Yvoire, France.  Wonderful views and excellent gelato!

We're in France!
We’re in France!

We enjoyed a quiet Memorial Day at home, including getting our house back together(ish), having our crazy race day, and visiting our neighborhood pool.

We also added more to our veggie garden, bringing our tomato plants up to a grand total of seven!  We already have some big tomatoes, and we are impatiently waiting for them to ripen.  I have never successfully gotten jalapenos to grow before, but this year all three plants are growing like crazy.  We also have about 12 small crookneck squash and 6 small cucumbers.  I am so excited and preparing for our summer vegetable explosion.

Last week we traveled in parallel.  Nick went to Indy for a Fuel Ethanol conference, and I went to Stuttgart, Germany for a water resources conference.  I was able to take an afternoon and visit the Klinsmann Bakery (owned by the family of US Soccer Coach Jurgen Klinsmann–he also worked there!) in Boatneng which was just beyond neat.  The bakery was incredibly pastoral and made no mention of soccer or Klinsmann’s fame, save for some cookies shaped like soccer players.  While in Germany, I also got to spend time with some friends from UNC and visit family friends in Heidelberg.

Klinsmann Bakery
Klinsmann Bakery

Speaking of US Soccer, World Cup fever is in full force over here at the Giffen residence.  To say we have been going crazy is a bit of an understatement.

This weekend, we’re taking a quick trip up to Richmond for a wedding, then running home on Sunday to host some friends for the USA game.  We hope you had a great month, and GO USA!


World Cup 2014 Knockout Stage Predictions

Here are my group stage picks. After that, the real fun begins. Here’s how I see it shaking out.

Round of 16:
Brazil 3-2 Chile
Ivory Coast 1(4)-1(3) Italy
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 France
USA 2-0 South Korea
Spain 2-0 Croatia
England 1-0 Colombia (a.e.t.)
Argentina 3-0 Ecuador
Belgium 4-3 Germany (a.e.t.)

Brazil 2-0 Ivory Coast
United States 2(4)-2(2) Bosnia and Herzegovina
Spain 2-0 England
Argentina 2-1 Belgium

Brazil 2-0 USA
Argentina 2-1 Spain

3rd Place:
Spain 2-0 USA

Argentina 3-2 Brazil

A very small bit of actual analysis. There’s almost no chance USA wins the group, but whatever, I’m picking them anyway because “I believe that we will win.” Should that happen, though, they have a nice road to the quarterfinals as they’ll likely play Russia or South Korea in the Round of 16. From there, they would get the winner of the France/Ecuador/Switzerland/Honduras group or the runner up in the Argentina/Bosnia/Nigeria/Iran group. We can rule out Argentina from that octet, and the USA can beat any of the other seven. I have them up against Bosnia and Herzegovina, prevailing in penalties. Obviously this is all outrageous and depends on the US winning the group. A big long shot. But I don’t care. GO USA!

I like Argentina to win it all. Messi, plus a better overall team in 2014 than 2010, as well as continental advantage until the final (getting them past Spain in the semifinals). A match-up against Brazil would be epic. The disaster of 1950 repeats itself for Brazil, albeit against a different South American team. Argentina lifts the trophy.

World Cup Group Stage Predictions

The 2014 World Cup starts today! Here’s a quick look at my predictions. Note: no statistical analysis went into this. Knockout stage picks later (need to find my laptop battery).

Group A:
1. Brazil – No brainer
2. Croatia – USA can’t save Mexico this time

Group B:
1. Spain – Win over NED propels them
2. Chile – Home continent advantage over NED

Group C:
1.  Ivory Coast – Yaya, ya know
2. Colombia – Still enough without Falcao

Group D:
1. England – I’ve gone crazy
2. Italy – For Justin

Group E:
1. France – No shenanigans this time
2. Ecuador – Almost had them top, but play France in Rio, not Manaus

Group F:
1. Argentina – Don’t Messi this up for me
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina – First timers advance

Group G:
1. USA – I believe that we will win
2. Germany – It’s Jurgen’s group

Group H:
1. Belgium – Fellaini is my boy
2. South Korea – I’m part Ukrainian, not picking Russia here