In addition to the 2002 World Cup official results, here's is how public opinion is rating (at the British bookmakers) the Teams currently playing the last Rounds of the World Cup:
2/5 - Brazil (8/13 up to Brazil's win over Turkey - pls. see below, too)
7/4 - Germany (10/3 up to South Korea's win over Spain, then 3, then 10/3 once more, till their victory over S.Korea, and 13/8 up to Brazil's win over Turkey)
It will be interesting to see how close (or far) these ratings will turn out to be!...
I'm keeping you updated as I hear that they change.
(No, I'm not into betting! – I've been asked. Just I find it curious to watch how public faith varies, as the competition progresses.)
Following Brazil's victory over England, Brazil has (temporarily?) become worthless a bet: most bookmakers are reported to be offering in return the very value of the bet, when it is placed on Brazil for the 2002 World Cup Champion. Of course the situation could change, if the Brazilian squad tripped over Turkey, in their next game.
It is worth remembering that, till France and Argentina dropped out of the competition, Brazil had not been the favorite at the bookmakers.
Spain had been second, till their defeat to S.Korea.
The German squad has not yet convinced anyone that they deserve a place in the finals. They had held in third (before the elimination of Spain), and are now in second. This, however, is more likely due to  the tradition underlying the German Teams than to their own merits thus far, as well as  to the lack of other traditional candidates.
Now S.Korea emerges as a possible candidate as well.
Who would have dreamed of it, at the start of the competition?!... They are the first Asian nation ever to reach the Semi-Finals!
This is likewise the first time for Turkey in the Semi-Finals!
At least in theory, these two first-timers could reach the Finals! Certainly a World Cup Final between N.Korea and Turkey would seem strange...but there surely have been strange outcomes in this World Cup. For example, the underdogs in Group D qualified as far as the Quarter-Finals, and now one of them is in the Semi-Finals. So...we'd better wait and see:)...
Here are the ratings for Teams that have been eliminated so far, right before they dropped out:
13/2 - South Korea (50, up to their win over Italy; 14, up to their win over Spain)
9/1 - Turkey (50, up to S.Korea's win over Italy; 18, up to their win over Senegal, then 10)
14 - Senegal
33 USA (100, up to their win over Mexico)
66 Rep.of Ireland
125 Belgium (had they defeated Brazil, this rating would have improved significantly, as it was with the U.S.A.'s, after they eliminated Mexico)
Teams whose results might suggest a larger dose of fame & self-confidence (pride?) in their luggage than soccer proper...and shockingly miss out the Second Round:
France - current Soccer World Champions!... Have they overlooked refreshing the squad?... overestimated their power?... The French did not manage to score one single goal! See here how sadly low the current champions have ranked among the 32 participants in 2002.
Argentina - a sweeping classifying campaign, but ... a stunning early withdrawal.
Portugal - an arrival overflowing in confidence, players that claim a place among the world's best...but the old brittle nerves and intimidating fouls (ask Pelé, regarding 1966, when he was mercilessly hunted down and finally fouled out of the Brazil X Portugal match, seriously injured).
A real pity that these three teams could not meet the expectations that they had arisen in advance.
Not stunning, yet unexpected absences from the Second Round:
Uruguay - certainly not a World power now, but they have a tradition and always bite. Uruguay was the first ever World Cup winner (1930/Uruguay), and again in 1950/Brazil, when they tipped over in Rio de Janeiro an unfavorable 0x1 into a 2x1 victory, to clench what then looked like a sure first World Cup Title for Brazil
Poland - not only a presence in about half of the World Cups played so far, but also following a strong qualifying campaign (the first European Nation to assure their presence in the 2002 World Cup), the Polish squad was surprisingly out after only two matches
Russia - a traditional World Cup presence, whom we are used to watch playing further than the First Round
Croatia - best qualifying campaign in their group, ahead of Belgium and Scotland
Cameroon - they've been assiduous in the World Cup scenario since 1982, having failed to qualify only in 1986. In 1990, they were a sensation, making it all the way to the Quarter-Finals.
Nigeria and Tunisia - along with the Cameroon - they all had stronger qualifying campaigns than Senegal. However, it was this last African Team that turned out as the exclusive Continent presence in the knock-out phase of the 2002 World Cup.
Finally, it is worth noting that, since 1986, when the current format was inaugurated in the World Cup, Europe had been placing 10 Teams in the Round of Sixteen phase of the competition. This year, however, there are only 9 European Teams among the final 16.
Near misses (for the Second Round), and not necessarily convincing in the First Round:
Now we know that neither of these Teams made it through the Second Round.
Worthy of note is that Belgium exited the World Cup exhibiting a praiseworthy improvement in performance (by comparison to their initial games). Their last match, against Brazil, was an exciting one, with plenty of chances created by both sides. Despite the defeat, the Belgium Squad have plenty justified their presence among the Top 16, as they depart from the World Cup.
Italy, on the other hand, played no differently from the way it started, packing a solid defense once it managed an initial advantage on the score-board. Except for the Italians, of course, I have not heard in the international media any one lamenting Italy's elimination by a brave, determined, and also skilled South Korea.
As a soccer lover, what I lament is the system that Italy has become known for: it is a cowardly system, well fit for small teams playing against more resourceful squads, but never for teams gathering players of the high quality found in the Italian Squad! (See here, here, and here, too.)
I would have felt sorry if, by an odd twist of fate, the Italians should have won the current World Cup, their system and style thus becoming the informally written models for soccer playing for the next four years.
Germany - though not near-misses in the First Round, as Italy and Belgium, I had both Germany and Brazil on my reserve list for this section. The German squad did not look convincing in their matches, but for the large number of goals they initially scored, I found it prudent to give them a bit of time to justify their presence among the world's best.
But so far, the convincing aspect shown by the German squad comes from their goalkeeper. Thus, I think it is time that they be added to this list.
Following the disappointing match against the U.S.A., I was actually under the impression that not even the German coach was convinced that they could take this Title home, except by a real struck of luck.
I feel sorry for the American players, who would have deserved a tie, for their efforts on the field, this Friday. Whether full credit should be attributed to their merits or to the lack of inspiration that this German Squad has so far displayed, I suppose it will become evident in the next match – especially if it is the more experienced Spanish Squad (as compared to the Koreans) to face the Germans in the Semi-Finals.
For experience usually plays its part, the closer a team gets to final match. South Korean's Guus Hiddink's boys, however, have shown such an incredible determination that it'd no longer be surprising if they end up playing the final match.
Let's see... It would be beyond sensational if a squad that many thought would not make beyond the First Round would end up in the Final Game and, at worse, as second best in the World!
S.Korea has surprised beyond any wild dream or expectation...so, even the logic inherent to the role that experience plays may not hold in their case, as just mentioned... If this South Korean team is a true mirror of the soccer potential in Korea, they are on the road to gaining world recognition and respect: they seem to embody the best of two soccer-cultures – European power and tactical cohesion and discipline, associated with Latin American creative and jolly playing, all welded together by their own South Korean ingredients, which include speed, alertness, and untiring fighting spirit. This combination could eventually render them close to unbeatable. Brazilians, who so far have held the upper edge in World soccer, should keep an eye open (toward South Korea), if they wish to hold on to their supremacy.
Incidentally, the choice of Dutch coach, in my view, could not have been a better catalyzing element for South Korean's success: unfortunately out of this World Cup, the Netherlands is Europe's main home for strong and tactically cohese, yet swift and freely creative, soccer. Their style is just short of the joyful light-hearted spirit that characterizes great players such as Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Garrincha, to cite only two. At any rate, South Korean soccer should be watched beyond this World Cup – or they might surprise again in four years, if they maintain the development that they have invested in so far.
My favorites for the final?
S.Korea, Spain, and Brazil, so we can delight our eyes with inspired and creatively played soccer, and many goals and other exciting plays!
Certainly all teams among the final eight are strong and have their merits! Or they would not have come thus far.
But as a soccer lover, I will always favor Teams that play for the goal, the ultimate objective in soccer, and do so creatively, unexpectedly, beyond what schemes and tactics can predict or allow, by themselves. Too bad, Spain or South Korea will have to drop out of the competition this Saturday!...
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