Eine Hand wäscht die andere? (Nate Silver, Day 15)

Lionel Messi is very good at football.

That’s nice, because Argentina’s back line is surprisingly awful. It probably won’t be enough to sink them vs. Switzerland, but it is something to keep in mind when the competition gets tougher. Despite losing to Argentina, Nigeria advanced anyway. They’ll get get a crack against a tough French team that denied Ecuador’s bid to advance.

France and Ecuador played to a scoreless draw, which opened up the door for Switzerland, who demolished Honduras three-nil, and get their crack at stopping Messi. I wish them best of luck. Iran had an outside shot of stealing Nigeria’s bid, but a 3-1 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina did them in.

Despite going 3-1, Nate finished the day slightly down, dropping to $707,574. He’ll take another crack at the final day of group play:

Game 45: USA, 7.53%: Risking $40,088 to win $456,203

Game 46: Ghana +0.5 goals, 24.6%: Risking $162,003 to win $148,627

Game 47: Belgium, 21.96%: Risking $86,250 to win $62,100

Game 48: Algeria +0.5 goals, 22.3%: Risking $87,969 to win $79,972

Assuming no line moves, an 0-4 day would leave Nate at $331,264. A 4-0 day would raise the tab to $1,681,270.  Exciting stuff, but not nearly as exciting as the drama of USA-Germany.

Both teams control their own destiny, and both advance with a draw. However, a draw would leave the USA with the tough take of Belgium (most likely) in the round of 16, followed by Argentina (most likely) in the quarterfinals. A win would get them Russia or Algeria (more on that shortly), followed by France (most likely).

Don’t get me wrong, if Germany wanted to play for a draw I’d acquiesce, but there is something to be gained in victory. However, in pure futbol terms, this is a mismatch. Not only are the Germans much better than the Yanks, but they’re better rested and healthier as well. Germany could simply go all out with reasonably little fear of losing, and even if they did, they have excellent tiebreaks. If Germany lost one-nil, Ghana would need a four-nil victory to advance. Portugal would need to win by 7. Germany is going to advance, but they’d like to win the group. My guess is if the game is tied late, both teams park the bus. However, the first half and early in the second should be highly competitive and I don’t expect it to go well for the Americans. That means they’ll be rooting for… Portugal.

Portugal is in a very tough spot. They need the Germans to blow team USA out, while they crush Ghana. It’s possible, but Portugal are probably going home. Ghana needs to win, but if they do they’re actually in decent shape. They’d need Germany to win, and at that point it would come down to tiebreaks. If America loses by one in a high scoring game, Ghana would need to win by two (or one in a very high scoring game). If both teams end up with identical tiebreaks, Ghana will advance because there is no way the USA will win in a drawing of lots. It’s just not happening.

You know what scenario would amuse me the most? Germany crushing, while Ghana draws in excruciating fashion. A Portugal goal in the final minute would be poetic, don’t you think? :)

Group H is interesting as well. Belgium is highly likely to win the group. South Korea has an outside shot advancing, but they’d need Algeria to fail to win, and then beat either Algeria or Russia on tiebreaks. Oh, they’d also have to beat Belgium. The real drama is Russia vs. Algeria. Russia needs a win, Algeria needs a draw or better. Algeria is a slight favorite to get the draw, but it’s close. Whomever gets the result will likely get a game vs. Germany as a reward. Good luck.

Gameday. Either team USA advances or I’ll be drunk by the time Group H kicks off. Then again, if we advance, I’ll be drunk by the time Cleveland screws up the first pick in the draft. Wish my liver luck and enjoy the futbol!

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