World Cup (3)
Last time I noted that football is unpredictable. As a result, upsets can happen all the time. Hence we shouldn’t be surprised that both the finalists from 2006 are already out. Similarly, in 2002, the defending champions failed to score a single goal even.
This unpredictably, together with the fact that so many more countries play it than rugby, cricket or hockey, would suggest that many more teams will be successful at the World Cup football than in other sports. For example, there are less than a dozen countries (at most, being charitable to some weaker teams) that make the pool of potential winners in cricket. This is also the case in rugby and hockey.
And yet, the pool of finalists, no matter what the sport is, is actually quite small. No more than half a dozen country has made it to the final of any world cup in my life time.
As Zafar Sobhan says, betting on World Cup football is easy money.
But what about club football?
Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal between them have won all but one English premiere league since its inception in 1992-93. AC Milan, Juventus and Internazionale have won the Serie A all but twice in these years. Barcelona and Real Madrid won it all but four times in that period. If you know nothing about football but predict that one of these teams will win the next league, you will have a pretty good chance of being right.
Compare this with American sports. A dozen teams have won the Superbowl since 1992-93. You may not know anything about baseball, but you still probably have heard of the New York Yankees. The Yankees have won the World Series only five times since 1992. Nine teams have won the World Series in that time. NBA appears to be more like European football leagues. The most iconic sport team of the 1990s must be the Chicago Bulls under Michael Jordan. But even the Bulls won only five NBA titles since 1992, and seven teams have won the championship in that time.
Predicting the winner in an American league is pretty hard if you knew nothing about the sport. And learning something require resources. I’m no psychologist, but I’d hazard a guess that it is difficult to pick up a new sport after your 15th birthday. If you don’t know anything about basketball, rooting for the Bulls on the basis of Jordan’s name is no use as they haven’t made the last 12 finals. Perhaps this is why football is so popular in Bangladesh — all you need to do is to root for Brazil or Argentina to have a good time.
Rolling prediction (at the end of first round)
Semi-final 1: Brazil vs Uruguay
Semi-final 2: Argentina vs Spain