rockalt wrote: ↑
Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:21 pm
I would choose any of Uruguay, France, Belgium or Brazil over any team in the bottom bracket. But I'm probably wrong as this World Cup has been filled with drama and surprises.
Well, I would agree with you. Looking at the FIFA ranking, which surely is in no way perfect, but still, Brazil is ranked second in the world, Belgium third and iirc France is seventh. Uruguay is the worst team in this bracket, and they are ranked 14th.
The only team in the other bracket ranked above Uruguay is England, at twelvth place. Croatia is ranked 20th, Sweden 24th and Russia 70th!
Thanks to a number of surprising upsets, it is clear that a team that is really just considered half decent will reach the final, since the lower bracket does not contain a single team considered to be among the top ten in the world. And yet here they are - within the group of just eight teams still standing.
I actually like Sweden's chances.
To get here, we were first in the same qualification group as France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. We lost 2-1 to France in Paris, but beat them with the same numbers at home. We only got a draw and a loss against the Netherlands, but they lost both their games against France, so we still ended up ahead of them, in second place.
We then faced another runner-up, Italy (rank 19). A draw and a win and they were gone, and we had qualified!
We then got an unfairly bad seed, and ended up in the same group as Germany, Mexico and South Korea.
I figured we probably couldn't beat Germany, who were ranked #1 by FIFA, but on a good day we can tie, which we almost did, They scored the winning goal five minutes into injury time.
I also thought we could take Mexico (rank 15) and Korea, and that's what we did.
We then faced Switzerland (6th according to FIFA) and beat them.
In other words, we fought an uphill battle to get here, and morale is high and soaring.
England, meanwhile, had a much easier qualification group (Slovakia, Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta... ) and also an easier group at the World Cup. They've only faced two tough opponents on their road here; Belgium and Colombia. They lost to Belgium and barely squeaked by against Colombia. I'm not impressed.
And having played all those crap teams leading up to this game, means they are cocky and bound to underestimate us.
Pat Nevin said on BBC that England will beat Sweden 99 times out of 100. Great! Let them believe that!
The Actual statistics are different. Sweden and England have squared off 14 times since 1986.
Seven draws, five wins for Sweden and two for England.
But we like to be the underdog.
Let them believe they will beat us 99 times out of 100.
That suits us perfectly.