June 10, 2002

World Cup math: Ireland must win by two goals against Saudi Arabia.: Ireland must win against Saudi Arabia by at least two goals to guarantee entry to the second round, regardless of the Cameroon v Germany (go Cameroon!) result. Why two goals? Because, if the Cameroon v Germany game ends in a tie, and Ireland win by only one goal, then Cameroon and Ireland will have equal goal difference.* They will have to compare how many goals they scored to decide who goes through. If they also come out equal on that point, they'll have to draw lots. That's a fate worse than sudden death penalties or just plain getting knocked out.

Also, Ireland getting through would kill a lot of the Roy Keane second-guessing, no? On the strength of their draws against the top two teams in their group, Ireland couldn't ask for a better opportunity to secure their place in the round of 16.

* All other scenarios are covered in the linked article, so don't tire yourself out doing the calculations. ;-)

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 02:23 PM - 11 comments

The math is just as tricky for most of the other groups. In Group G, for example, Ecuador could still emerge from the round (Mex beats Italy, Ec beats Croatia with a good goal differential in both games) And, after the Korea-U.S. tie, Group A is a free-for-all.

posted by vacapinta at 02:40 PM on June 10, 2002

Yep, Group D isn't unique. I'm not even watching tonight's games. But tomorrow is the Group of Death's last games. I'm on for England v Nigeria. It should be a nailbiter, what with the Argentina v Sweden game going on simultaneously. Hope Sweden does countryman Sven (and England) a favor by beating the Argies. If that happens, it doesn't matter how England v Nigeria goes. Go England!

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:15 PM on June 10, 2002

Lots? Drawing lots! That's terrible! So if everyone ties (one-all, say, or nil-nil) they draw lots? Has this ever happened?

posted by outside counsel at 04:52 PM on June 10, 2002

Yeah, it happened to Ireland in.. Erm, 90 or 94? They should just have a penalty shootout :)

posted by Mossy at 05:37 PM on June 10, 2002

But Mossy, if it's between Cameroon and Ireland who goes through they'd have to organise a whole individual penalty shoot-out on another date. Is this really practical? What wasn't mentioned by worldcup2002 was that normally after goal difference and goals scored has been compared, then it goes to the head-to head result between the teams. Unfortunately they drew 1-1 so this can't come into play. I predict Ireland will stuff the Saudis anyway, so it shouldn't be necessary. Having said that I am bottom of our World Cup prediction league at work so what the hell do I know?

posted by squealy at 06:39 PM on June 10, 2002

Ireland and the Netherlands had to draw lots in 1990 to determine who finished 2nd and who finished 3rd in their group (behind England). Ireland won the draw, and thus played Romania in the 2nd round, while the Netherlands had to play Germany. It's maybe not surprising that Ireland won their tie, whereas the Netherlands lost theirs. In those days, there were only 24 teams in the finals, so the best 4 3rd place teams also made the second round. It seems that increasing the number of teams to 32 has also (maybe unwittingly) increased the value of wins in the group stages, which may account for the more positive football in the last couple of world cups.

posted by salmacis at 06:55 PM on June 10, 2002

I found myself idly doing permutations while at work after the US/Korea match. Nothing like losing a whole morning of work reading match results and playing with numbers. Anyone else excited about Senegal tonight?

posted by elsoltano at 07:05 PM on June 10, 2002

squealy: thanks for pointing out the head-to-head result comparison, too. Since that doesn't work for Cameroon and Ireland, and they'd have to resort to drawing lots, I'd like to propose a couple of alternatives (I call them "innovations"): 1. Fisticuffs: An all out brawl between both teams, or just one select fighter from either team. First one to draw blood wins. Referee and linesmen will replace their flags and whistle with electric cattle prods. 2. Goal-scoring celebrations: Points scored for aesthetics, team coordination, athleticism. Ref and linesmen to be replaced by Olympic iceskating judges. 3. Soccer obstacle course: Quickest team to dribble ball through series of cones from one goal to halfway line, then shoot into unguarded goal at other end of field. Eleven man teams, including a goalie, take part, alternating between players on each team. Aggregate/Average time and goals scored are joint factor. 4. FIFA World Cup Soccer Online: Two full teams with Internet connections battle it out using their virtual doppelgangers. 5. Sumo battle: Say no more. 6. Iron Chef: Team with best recipes win. Chairman Kaga will decide the winner. And don't ask me what happens if there's a tie in any of these situations.

posted by worldcup2002 at 07:25 PM on June 10, 2002

Maybe Parcheesi? Just throwing it out there.

posted by Samsonov14 at 07:32 PM on June 10, 2002

Rock, Scissors, Paper. Fan ballot. Strongman competition. Jeopardy!

posted by outside counsel at 07:37 AM on June 11, 2002

Doesn't matter now. Ireland won it 3-0!

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:50 AM on June 11, 2002

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