Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fair Play: So, how's your team in the World Cup so far?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's June 21 edition)
FROM the days when the only way you could watch a World Cup match live is a girlie bar, now, it seems everybody’s got the World Cup fever. And that’s fine by me. Just be careful though and don’t make the same mistake like the fan who said she’s going to cheer for Spain because of Ronaldo.

And, just like in the old days, we have to sacrifice sleep to catch the games live but now, we can do it at home.


Unlike the fans whose NTs are in the Cup, most of the teams Pinoy fans are rooting for are England, Spain, the US, and traditional powers Brazil and Argentina.

Why England and Spain? Well, because for years, all the football action we could get on TV were all about the Premier League or the La Liga, that’s why there are tons of Man U, Real Madrid and Barcelona fans. We pick the US because, it’s Uncle Sam and we have friends and family there and of course, who wouldn’t pick Brazil and Argentina?

Of the five, Spain is out with two losses in its first two games, while England has a foot on the exit door and can still qualify depending on the result of Italy vs. Costa Rica last night.

Here’s how the group stage is faring so far.

In Group A, Brazil and Mexico share the lead after their scoreless draw with 4 points each, while Croatia has three.

Brazil only needs a draw against Cameroon to advance, while Croatia needs to beat Mexico to advance. A draw will see Mexico through.

In Group B, the Netherlands and Chile are safely through and will take on each other in their final match to determine which team finishes first, while ousted champion Spain will play for pride with fellow winless team Australia.

In Group C, Colombia is safely through after two wins over second-place Ivory Coast and Greece, while Japan and Greece share one point. A win by Ivory Coast over Greece will see it through, but a draw and a Japan win over Colombia would have both teams at four points and we go to goal difference to determine who advances. Greece also has a chance to advance if it beats Ivory Coast and Japan loses or draws its final match.

Things are more interesting in Group D as Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay all have three points, while England has none. Italy was set to play Costa Rica last night and a victory by the Italians over Costa Rica means, England has to win its final match against the Costa Ricans and hope Italy beats Uruguay so it can advance to the knockout stage. If Costa Rica wins, England chances are doomed as it means Costa Rica will be the first to advance, while Italy and Urugay will fight to determine who advances next. (Update: England is out after Costa Rica shocked Italy, 1-0. If anyone says he saw that coming, go ask him for lottery numbers.)

In Group E, after a tumultuous 2010 campaign which saw France exiting early and some players holding a strike, it’s looking good for Les Bleus after winning its first match to take the lead with Switzerland with three points each, while Ecuador and Honduras have yet to win a match.

Switzerland will take on France next with the winner assured of a spot in the knockout phase, while Honduras and Ecuador fight for survival against each other.

In Group F, favorites Argentina is comfortably on top and should win its next two matches against Iran and Nigeria, while the chase for the second spot i the knockout phase is a close one. Iran and Nigeria share a point, while Bosnia has none after losing to Argentina but the debutants could still take second place if it beats Nigeria.

In Group G, Germany and the USA both have three points and could seal a spot in the knockout phase if it wins its next matches against teams that are desperate for points. Germany will take on Ghana, a 2-1 loser to the US, while the Americans will face Portugal next, wary of how Ronaldo and company recover after that 4-0 spanking from Germany.

And finally, in Group H, Belgium is the lone team to get three points after the first round, while Russia and Korea have one point. Korea will take on Algeria next and a win by the Koreans would eliminate the African nation.

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