Messi saves, Germany draws, Leary screws (Nate Silver, Day 11)
Nate Silver was almost above $750,000! All Iran had to do was hold on to the scoreless draw for four more minutes. Alas, Lionel Messi is very good at futbol. I wouldn't be too concerned about Argentina's overall level of play. Iran played very well, while Argentina had to be at least a little bit overconfident, having already defeated the second best team in their group. At this point Argentina wins the group with at least a draw vs. Nigeria. Nigeria would also be happy with a draw as that would ensure they advance even if Iran gets a win against Bosnia, but we'll get to that shortly.
Germany generally struggle in their second game at the World Cup. They've also had unusual issues against African sides. Still, they weren't expected to struggle against Ghana, but struggle they did, going into halftime stuck at nil-nil. Mario Gotze was able to put them ahead one-nil before Ghana rallied with goals from Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. Germany decided that Gotze was done scoring for the day, and they replaced him with Miroslav Klose, who promptly scored the equalizer two minutes later. After that Germany had a few more scoring chances, but eventually had to settle for the draw. This means that they can't relax against a USA squad that might still need a point (or three) to advance.
Poor Peter O'Leary. One day you're a secondary school biology teacher. The next day you (and your assistants) are the poster boys for officiating villainy at the World Cup. They called an absolutely awful offsides to take away a goal fro Bosnia-Herzegovina. Not only was the call obviously wrong, but it was late. Leary should have overruled his assistant and made the goal stand. There was also controversy with the Ghana goal as perhaps a foul could have been called on Nigeria during the play, but that is a judgement call and frankly I would have allowed play to continue. I would also red card players who writhe in pain on the ground who then miraculously recover, so perhaps my officiating sympathies lie with slightly more physical play than is healthy. Bosnia had a few good scoring chances late, but Vincent Enyeama played superbly and kept the ball out of the net. If Nigeria can manage a draw against Argentina, they be on to the second round. I'll be very suspicious if said draw is a boring scoreless variety, but all is fair in love and international futbol.
Despite not getting the huge win with Iran, Nate Silver managed another strong day, finishing with $477,136. Next up:
Game 30: Russia +0.5 goals, 13.32%: Risking $63,555 to win$65,520
Game 31: South Korea +0.5 goals, 17.67%: Risking 73,080 to win $32,480
Game 32: USA +0.5 goals, 35.56%: Risking $121,082 to win $153,269
The general trend seems to be that Nate likes underdogs and draws, discounting favorites that aren't from South America. Despite the fact there have been unusually few draws, this has been working out quite well for Nate so far. We'll see if it continues.
The big game of the day (for Nate and myself) is USA-Portugal. Despite the fact that USA has a win and Portugal is coming off of an embarrassing defeat, I'm not nearly as confident in America's chances as Nate is. In fact, I'd consider a draw to be a huge victory, as that would mean a draw vs. Germany would advance both squads, with Germany on top in the group. I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's just enjoy another great day of futbol in Brazil. 🙂