Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Thought on Improving the World Cup

In doing my World Cup draft, a couple problems with the format of the tournament have come up. One is that it is an advantage for a second-tier team in a group to play the group favorite on the last match-day. For instance, Slovenia has an advantage in Group C because they play England last. Let's say that England has won the group after two wins in their first two games and then sends out a second-choice side for the last match. Slovenia can then get a point to secure its place in the second round by facing a significantly weaker England side than the one that the U.S. saw in the opener.

A second problem is that the bottom half of the draw is much stronger than the top half. If anything goes wrong for Brazil in their group, they could end up finishing second and playing co-favorite Spain in the Round of 16. Brazil could have to face a Spain-Italy-Argentina gauntlet to make the final, whereas the teams in the top half of the bracket have an easier road.

So here's a simple suggestion: seed the teams from 1-16 after the group stage based on points and goal difference. That will increase the likelihood that the favorites will miss one another until the quarters and semis, which is when the big games should take place. More importantly, it means that the top teams will play hard for all three group games. Finally, it increases the likelihood of a 10-1 massacre and who doesn't like that? Are you telling me that you wouldn't be interested in seeing how many goals Spain can put past Honduras? No? Then you're probably also one of those clowns who doesn't like margin-of-victory in computer polls because "what about the children!?!" F*** you, imaginary adversary!


Nate said...

I see your point about the flaw of the first round, but to use your example of England vs. Slovenia, how would it be in England's best interest to trot out a second-choice side? It would be my inference that, after a long club season, England's players need more time playing together as a national side, and resting key players would inhibit the team from gelling. Because even if they are guaranteed a spot in Round of 16, they need to be playing very well to get into the last 4.

I suppose the question is whether it is more important to get match experience for the first side, or if rest after a long club season is the priority. (And avoiding possible injury.)

I lean towards the former. And that's why I'm actually thinking it might be a good thing for the US to take on England first, before they England has a few matches under their belt. (And yes, we won't have any matches under our belt either. But I'll take our chances in a match of rusty US vs. a rusty England rather than a fit vs. fit.)

chg said...

I would love to see how many everyone could put in versus North Korea if incentivized to score as many goals as possible.

Anonymous said...

Hey blogger, I'm got my office WC auction today at noon. Any sleepers I should keep an eye on? Serbia perhaps?