england-1966

One of the great experiences of my life was to watch every England game at Wembley in  1966. It was remarkably easy to get tickets back then. My Dad & I just rocked up to the Wembley box office and bought tickets for every England game at Wembley – the group games and the ones that England would play in, if they won their group. The exception was the Final, which was sold out by the time we got there. After the Portugal semi-final, Dad bought tickets from a tout – a seat for himself and one on ‘the terraces’ for me. (The asking price was outrageous: £5 for a standing ticket!)  I can remember that summer like it was yesterday and can almost relive every moment of the Final: the despair when Haller made it 0-1, the relief when Hurst equalised, the belief that we’d win it when Peters scored, the horror of Weber’s goal in the last minute of normal time. And that Extra Time – the goal that wasn’t but was, (thank you, thank you Mr. Russian linesman!) and the euphoria when “…here comes Hurst! Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over! It is now, it’s four!” What a great time it was to be an Englishman!  I still have the tournament & Final programme and my World Cup Willie sticker!

WC2014

13 June.  The Ericle likes to have a little bet on World Cup proceedings. My track record has not been great – I have the small-time gamblers’ penchant for outsiders! However, in 1982, after they drew their first 2 games, I did wager £10 on Italy to win at 40/1. FWIW I don’t believe that Brazil will win and last night’s performance reinforces this for me. As of this morning, Argentina & Spain are my picks. As they are likely to meet in the semi-finals, I am forced to pick between the two –  I have opted for Spain as my winners (£5 + £20 free bet @ 6/1) and a Germany v Spain final (£5 @20/1). I am also placing a minimum £2 on each match on a daily basis. Last night I placed £2 on the draw, so I’m already in The Hole! I will update this page as the tournament  progress; if you are so minded, you can follow how this fool and his money are parted:

Vicente del Bosque looks on in despair during Spain's 2-0 defeat by Chile in the World Cup.

19 June.  Adios Espagna! (And my 2 bets*). Surely the biggest Group Stage shock since Brazil failed to make it in 1966? Faced with what one has seen so far, it is hard to look past Germany, who alone look like the ‘complete deal’.  Brazil & Argentina are still betting favourites but seem to me to be so more on the basis of history than performance. The Netherlands demolition of Spain, on the surface, seemed like the outstanding result of Round 1; but Spain’s early exit and an uninspiring Dutch performance against Australia is a strong counter-balance to their hopes. Chile, France & Italy have impressed but don’t seem to have quite enough about them. Similarly ‘Dark Horse’ Belgium; except they haven’t impressed. England, whose loss against Italy had some refreshing elements, aren’t out of it either; but their defensive frailties will cost us in the end, I fear. Of the rest of the teams that have showed something I was impressed most by Mexico, who pass and attack well but will need to tighten up in defence if they are to make real progress, and Croatia, who were unlucky not to get anything against Brazil but were ruthless against Cameroon.

*  As a result of one of my better decisions, (and one of his worst),  my son & I agreed to pool our (£10) overall bets. Thus I am still alive on the basis of his picks, which are:  Bosnia & Chile to make to the next stage, (£5 @ 13/4); an Argentina v Germany Final, (£5 @ 15/1) and Brazil to win (£20 free bet @ 7/2).  We have also placed a value bet of £2 @ 125/1 on Mexico to win.

Roy H WC

23 June.  After 2 rounds, the only certain thing I can say is that I’m unlikely to come out of this World Cup in profit!  One of the most fascinating things for me, about the World Cup, is how national pride and psychology can come to the fore. Iran’s game against Argentina was a ‘tour de force’  in gritty determination that almost produced one of the greatest upsets in world football; Ghana’s draw against Germany was gained on the back of a joyful expression of their character, while the competitive & combative pride of the USA & Australia is a self-evident factor in every game they play. As for England, the weight of national expectation continues to cripple them.  At the sharp end, the South American favourites have yet to convince one that they have the ability to produce football of the winning self-expression that was anticipated of them; if anything, it is the smaller South American teams that have produced more of this – Mexico & Chile, especially. Of the Europeans, Germany & France have stood out but not on all fronts; while Netherlands have shown that they can produce scintillating football on any day but whether they will is a completely different matter. If I had to pick a winner today, it would be Germany as they will always turn up for every match. However, as Ghana showed, if the other team brings its ‘A’ game onto the field, Germany may not necessarily prevail.

Teeth

27 June.  I’ve done surprisingly well with my bets on Round 3: 12 out of 15 correct – not bad, even if I say so myself, given that each match has 3 possible outcomes. The major reason that my ‘form’ is improving is that I’ve now had the chance to see each team twice and assess its strengths, weaknesses & character. However, my winning ratio is still surprising, given that Round 3 brings with it strategic uncertainties as to whether teams will play for the wins. Over the years, the consistency of national character of the teams is a matter of continuing amazement to me.  The South American teams always seem to reflect a joy of the game unmatched by others; so far no Samba Football from any of them but I suspect that we will not see the likes of it again, given the tactics of the modern game. The African teams continue to improve on all dimensions but not  have the ability to produce consistent team performances; while the complete opposite is always the case from the USA. The Asian teams tend to produce diminutive results, if not performances; the Arab ones display repressed promise.  On the European side: the Germans are always well organised, the Russians underwhelm, the Greeks defend, the French are fragile, the Dutch display quirky brilliance, the Italians are led by a design icon and are befittingly hit or miss, while the English have ‘Fallen Empire’ written into their every step

WC Fr1

2 July.  I was in France for the entirety of the Round of 16, which meant that I only got to watch 2 of the games live. However one of them, France v Nigeria, provided me with one of my most memorable personal World Cup moments. Antibes (see above image) mostly came to a halt during the game and for hours after the sounds of cars hooting and joyful fans were the backdrop to our evening. It provided a nice counterpoint, after the England experience, to be in a country that could celebrate victory. I fear that this may be the ‘end of la rue’ for the French, as they come up against Germany in the next round. The other game I saw was the demise of my 125-1 shot, Mexico, who had 1 foot and 3 toes in the next round until they lost concentration in the last 5 minutes of their game against the impressive Dutch. Of the other winners: Brazil continue to un-impress, Argentina don’t convince, Costa Rica joyfully over-achieve and Belgium provides slight hints at their potential. At this stage of the proceedings, it would appear that the winner will be a European team – the 1st time on South American soil – with Germany and Netherlands looking to be the picks. As for my betting fund, after my success with Round 3, it’s been ‘one step forward and one back'; with 6 favourites coming through to pay for my 2 ill-fated punts on relative outsiders.

Sauage

6 July. My mother used to use an expression: “Jetzt geht es um die Wurst”. Not that things were not serious before, now they are getting really serious. My ill-founded belief that I saw something in the Belgian has cost me, though to be fair Argentina do seem to be getting stronger. I really thought that Columbia would do for Brazil, but they keep being carried along on the crest of a tsunami of national emotion that belies the (lack of) talent at their disposal.  Neymar’s exit from the tournament, through injury, must surely put pay to Brazil’s further progress. Germany continue to efficiently deal with everything in their path, while the same can’t be said of the Netherlands, who must consider themselves fortunate to have prevailed on penalties over Costa Rica. Despite my 50/50 record, the Quarter Finals have virtually wiped out my small profit to date, but my post-Spain bet on an Argentina v Germany Final is looking good. 

Luiz

10 July. Well it’s going to be a Germany v Argentina Final. One of the semi finals was memorable, for its extraordinary outcome, the other totally forgettable. I really feel for Brazilians to have to suffer such a humiliation – especially at their own tournament. However from the footballing perspective they are a very mediocre team that has been carried along by a tsunami of national sentiment. It is sad, though, that their ‘music has died’ – at least for the time being. I really hope that they can samba their way to 3rd place. There really was nothing between the 2 teams in the other semi, except that one took the better penalties; it really was a case of both teams not daring to win – and it’s Netherlands who will be living with the regret that they didn’t bring their own Dutch Courage onto the pitch. On the betting front, all my tournament bets are now run. I have been rescued by the prediction of a Germany v Argentina final which netted £37.50. Against this I lost £17.50 on a variety of other side bets, as detailed above.

13 July. If there is one thing that this World Cup has demonstrated, it is that over the 7 matches it takes to win the tournament, the ‘truth will out’. In the end, all the sentiment and muscle-history in the world will not counterbalance what a team brings onto the pitch over the period of the tournament. Unfortunately for the hosts this truth played itself out even unto the 3rd place match last night – Brazil adding to their embarrassment by being comprehensively turned over yet again. As for the Final tonight, the ‘truth’ is that Germany have turned up every game. They are well organised, committed to the man, have some outstanding talent and have always produced when they needed to. Argentina have been resilient and strong. In Messi they have an undoubted galactico but his impact has been sporadic. Over the course of the tournament their defence has visibly become stronger but as a winning outfit there is a distinct lack of creativity. As I see it, unless something enters into their food-chain, the German juggernaut will continue to roll on and, on that basis, I am putting all my winnings (£4.94) on them to win tonight.

Germany's Schweinsteiger holds the World Cup trophy after winning the 2014 World Cup against Argentina in Rio de Janeiro

14 July.  In the end there can be no argument, from anybody reasonable, that the best team won. Germany’s win could be the first of a string of German tournament successes as they are a young talented team that has a clear vision as to what it takes to succeed and the discipline to make it happen.

I also have derived a small self-satisfaction from my own personal World Cup betting challenge.  I came out of the tournament £29.04 to the good. (£9.04 on my match-by-match bets & £20 on my tournament wagers).

ROUND 1

12 June.  Brazil v Croatia: DRAW (Result: 3-1).  Loss: £2.  [World Cup account: -£2.]

13 June.  Mexico v Cameroon: MEXICO (1-0).  Win: £2.58.  [+£0.58]

13 June.  Spain v Netherlands: DRAW (1-5).  Loss: £2.00.  [-£1.42]

13 June.  Chile v Australia: CHILE (3-1).  Win: £0.80  [-£0.62]

14 June.  Columbia v Greece: DRAW (3-0).  Loss: £2.00  [- £2.62]

14 June. Uruguay v Costa Rica: URUGUAY (1-3).  Loss: £2.00  [-£4.62]

14 June. England v Italy: ENGLAND (1-2).  Loss: £2.00  [-£6.62]

15 June.  IVORY COAST v Japan: IVORY COAST (2-1).  Win: £3.42  [-£3.20]

15 June.  Switzerland v Ecuador: DRAW (2-1).  Lose: £2.00  [- £5.20]

15 June.  FRANCE v Honduras: FRANCE (3-0).  Win: £0.63  [- £4.57]

15 June.  ARGENTINA v Bosnia (2-1).  Win: £0.72   [-£3.85]

16 June. Germany v Portugal: DRAW (4-0).  Lose: £2.00  [-£5.85]

16 June.  Iran v Nigeria: NIGERIA (0-0).  Lose: £2.00  [-£7.85]

16 June.  Ghana v USA: DRAW (1-2).  Lose: £2.00  [-£9.85]

17 June.  Belgium v Algeria: BELGIUM (2-1).  Win: £0.66  [-£9.19]

17 June.  Russia v S. Korea: RUSSIA (1-1).  Lose: £2.00  [-£11.19]

ROUND 2

17 June.  Brazil v Mexico: DRAW (0-0).  Win: £9.12  [-£2.07]

18 June.  Australia v Netherlands: NETHERLANDS (2-3).  Win : £0.47  [-£1.60]

18 June.  Spain v Chile: SPAIN (0-2).  Lose: £2.00  [-£3.60]

18 June.  Cameroon v Croatia: CROATIA  (0-4). Win: £1.42  [-£2.18]

19 June.  Columbia v Ivory Coast: DRAW (2-1).  Lose: £2.00  [-£4.18]

19 June.  Uruguay v ENGLAND: ENGLAND (2-1). Lose: £2.00  [-£6.18]

19 June.  Japan v Greece: JAPAN (0-0).  Lose: £2.00  [-£8.18]

20 June.  Costa Rica v Italy: ITALY (1-0). Lose: £2.00 [-£10.18]

20 June.  Switzerland v France: DRAW (2-5). Lose: £2.00 [-£12.18]

20 June.  Honduras v Ecuador: ECUADOR (1-2). Win: £1.35  [-£10.83]

21 June.  Argentina v Iran: ARGENTINA (1-0).  Win: 0.27  [-£10.56]

21 June.  Germany v Ghana: GERMANY (2-2).  Lose: £2.00  [-£12.56]

21 June.  Nigeria v Bosnia: BOSNIA (1-0).  Lose: £2.00  [-£14.56]

22 June.  South Korea v Algeria: SOUTH KOREA (4-2).  Lose: £2.00  [-£16.56]

22 June.  Belgium v Russia: RUSSIA (1-0).  Lose: £2.00  [-£18.56]

22 June.  United States v Portugal (2-2).  Lose: £2.00  [-£20.56] 

ROUND 3

(I will not be placing bets on games where there is nothing at stake for either team)

23 June.  Australia v Spain: NO BET (0-3)

23 June.  Netherlands v Chile: NETHERLANDS (2-0).  Win £3.04  [-£17.52]

23 June.  Cameroon v Brazil: BRAZIL (1-4).  Win: 0.36  [-£17.12]

23 June.  Croatia v Mexico: MEXICO (1-3).  Win: £3.57  [-£13.55]

24 June.  Costa Rica v England: DRAW (0-0).  Win: £5.70  [-£7.85]

24 June.  Italy v Uruguay: DRAW (0-1).  Lose: £2.00  [-£9.85]

24 June.  Greece v Ivory Coast: GREECE (2-1).  Win: £6.08  [-£3.77]

24 June.  Japan v Colombia: COLOMBIA (1-4).  Win: £2.20  [-£1.57]

25 June.  Bosnia v Iran:  BOSNIA (3-1).  Win: £2.13  [+0.56]

25 June.  Nigeria v Argentina: ARGENTINA (2-3).  Win: £0.99  [+£1.55]

25 June.  Ecuador v France: DRAW (0-0).  Win: £5.89  [+7.44]

25 June.  Honduras v Switzerland: SWITZERLAND (0-3).  Win: 0.93  [+£8.37]

26 June.  Portugal v Ghana: GHANA (2-1).  Lose: £2.00  [+£6.37]

26 June.  United States v Germany: GERMANY (0-1).  Win: £1.29  [+£7.66]

26 June.  Algeria v Russia: RUSSIA (1-1).  Lose: £2.00  [+£5.66]

26 June.  S. Korea v Belgium: BELGIUM (0-1).  Win: £1.54  [+£7.20]

ROUND OF 16

28 June.  Brazil v Chile: BRAZIL (1-1/3-2).  Win: £0.54  [+£7.74]

28 June.  Columbia v Uruguay: COLOMBIA (2-0).  Win: £0.98  [+£8.72]

29 June.  Netherlands v Mexico: MEXICO (2-1).  Lose: £2.00  [+£6.72]

29 June.  Costa Rica v Greece: GREECE (1-1/4-2).  Lose: £2.00  [+£4.72]

30 June.  France v Nigeria: FRANCE (2-0).  Win: £0.52  [£5.24]

30 June.  Germany v Algeria: ALGERIA (2-1 AET).  Win: £0.26  [£5.50]

    1 July.  Argentina v Switzerland: ARGENTINA (1-0 AET).  Win: £0.50  [£6.00]

    1 July.  Belgium v USA: BELGIUM (2-1 AET).  Win: £1.00  [£7.00]

QUARTER FINALS

     4 July.  France v Germany: GERMANY (0-1).  Win:  £1.96 [£5.04]

     4 July.  Brazil v Colombia:  COLOMBIA (2-1).  Lose: £2.00 [3.04]

     5 July.  Argentina v Belgium: BELGIUM (1-0).  Lose: £2.00  [£1.04]

     5 July.  Netherlands v Costa Rica: NETHERLANDS (0-0/4-3).  Win: £0.46  [£1.50]

SEMI FINALS

     8 July.  Brazil v Germany: GERMANY (1-7). Win: £1.94  [£3.44]

     9 July.  Netherlands v Argentina: ARGENTINA (0-0/4-2). Win: £1.50  [£4.94]

3RD PLACE

     12 July.  Brazil v Netherlands: NO BET (0-3).

 FINAL

13 July.  Germany v Argentina:  GERMANY (0-1 AET).  Win:  £4.10  [£9.04]

stato

Stato Postscript:

I placed bets on 62 of the 63 games.  I correctly predicted 34 of them:

Round 1 – 6/16. Round 2 – 5/16. Round 3 – 12/15. Knockout games – 11/15

Did I do better than ‘the monkey with the pin’? I believe that it is fair to say that I did.

In the pre-knockout rounds, where there were 3 possible outcomes to each game, the monkey would have got 34% of the results right. I managed 49%. In the knockout games I achieved 73% compared to the monkey’s 50%. The monkey, however, unlike myself would not have taken form & odds into account. This notwithstanding, especially when one takes the bookmaker’s spread into account, I would contend that I did not make a complete monkey of myself?

monkey-scratching-head

 

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3 Responses to 1966 & All That

  1. tony says:

    Pleased you still have your Willie sticker. I lost mine sometime ago,regrettably. I had to bribe my brother £5 a game to watch England play on TV. My dad went to all West Germany games as one of their official interpreters.

  2. Ericle says:

    £5 to watch a game on TV – that’s what it cost me to watch the game live at Wembley! On that basis what will you offer me for my World Cup Willie sticker? ;-)

  3. Tim says:

    Stick to scrabble… Betting on soccer is a mug’s game.

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