Just when you thought the World Cup was going to proceed without any biting– Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has to go ahead and ruin things for everbody else.  His 79th minute chomp of Giorgio Chiellini overshadowed the goal that followed two minutes later and the resulting advancement into the Knockout Stage.  It doesn’t help that he’s bitten before…not once but twice (while playing for Dutch club Ajax and while with Liverpool in the EPL, so at least he’s spread his dining around).  Tuesday’s early games were major cannon fodder for those who dislike soccer:  the biting episode that went unpenalized a match that meant everything, and then a scoreless draw in a match that felt much longer than the 90 minutes + stoppage time.

Woe is England– one point in three matches represents that nation’s worst ever showing on the biggest stage.  For some reason the whole once again turns out to be far less than the sum of the team’s parts.  Reminiscent of the US mens’ basketball team finishing 6th at the 2002 World Championships– except that tournament was played in Indianapolis.

Latin America Looms Large– of the eight teams advancing over the first two days, four are from South America (Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay) while two are from Central America (Mexico and Costa Rica).  If it weren’t for Greece’s penalty kick in stoppage time against Ivory Coast, there’d be just one European nation getting through the group stage thus far.

So far this week the tiebreakers (goal differential, most goals and then head-to-head) have only applied regarding the Group A winner (Brazil thanks to a better differential than Mexico).  Wednesday all four berths in the Knockout Stage could come down to hair-splitting scenarios…and just remember, if they’re tied after head-to-head they cast lots.  As a 21st century competition that keeps time in a 20th century manner decides to determine worthiness based on a process perfected in 6th century B.C.  I can hear the naysayers already.

 

Group E--or in honor of France’s best ever player, the Zinedine Zidane Group:

France faces Ecuador— the only way France is eliminated is if they lose by 4+goals or allow 6+ goals in a 3 goal loss and Switzerland tops Honduras by a 5+ goals.  A tie delivers the Group.  Ecuador is in with a victory plus a Swiss loss or tie (or a Swiss win that doesn’t boost their goal differential), or a tie plus a Swiss loss or tie.  Ecuador’s likely in with a loss if Honduras wins…because of goal differential.

Switzerland meets Honduras— the Swiss are in with a victory plus an Ecuador loss or tie, or a tie plus an Ecuador loss, or a loss by less than 2 goals and if Ecuador loses by 3+ to France and doesn’t surpass them in total goals (Swiss are at 4, Ecuador are at 3).  Honduras reaches the next round with a 2+ goal victory over Switzerland plus an Ecuador loss by 3+ goals unless they surpass the other two nations in total goals.

 

Group F-or the Diego Maradona Group:

Argentina plays Nigeria— Argentina’s moving on regardless…and can win the group with a victory or tie.  Nigeria takes the group with a win…advances with a win or tie…and if they lose needs Iran to lose or tie to Bosnia-Herzegovina, or they go to goal differential/total goals tiebreaker.

Iran plays Bosnia-Herzegovina— Iran’s slim hopes hinge on a victory plus a Nigeria loss if their margin of victory is more than Nigeria’s margin of defeat…or is equal and they finish with more total goals than Nigeria (who has a 1 goal lead now).  Bosnia-Herzegovina’s out of contention.

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