Giant Killing!

The FA Cup is one of the most famous and most fun sporting events in the world, and part of its unique charm is when non-league team advances beyond where they'd normally be defeated. This year, Crawley Town FC, a non-league club playing in the Football Conference (four levels below the Premier League) defeated Torquay to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup, equaling the best performance by a non-league club in the modern era.

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By know, I'm sure you've heard... 2018 in Russia, 2022 in Qatar. Golly, playing football in 50C heat always brings out the best, doesn't it?

Your thoughts?

USA Withdraws Bid for 2018

The United States has withdrawn their bid for the 2018 World Cup, and England has withdrawn their bid for 2022. No non-European nations are bidding for 2018 now. Remaining bidders for 2018 are England, Russia, Spain/Portugal, and Belgium/Holland. Competing against the United States are Australia, Japan, Qatar, and South Korea.

Champions League Second Week

The second week of the Champions League has just finished, and all five British teams are in first or second place in their groups.

Some open thread for comments on the season so far.

Google Calendar

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Great Start to the Champions League

Rangers were certainly ready for their visit to Manchester United. Werder Bremen showed heart in coming from 2-0 down to draw. Eight games down, eighty-eight to go. Any thoughts on today's games?

August 14-16

It is two days to the opening of the football season in England and Scotland... Just for some fun, let's have some predictions on this weekend's results. The fixtures:

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Celtic's European Season Ends

Celtic managed to beat Braga 2-1, but go down on aggregate 2-4, leaving Europe before the beginning of the Scottish season. Scotland's coefficient for European qualification will likely take another hit as a result after this season.

Scottish Premier League Preview

The last time someone outside the Old Firm won the Scottish championship, Ronald Reagan was still president of the US, Wrigley field had no lights, Prince William Sound had no oil, Maradona's hand was merely human, and Heysel was not yet an infamous name in English history. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

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The Chase Begins

The 28th of May seems a long way away, but the road to Wembley has already started. The first qualifying round of the Champions League was played while the World Cup was played, with the winners of the leagues in San Marino, Andorra, Montenegro, and Malta facing off. (This wasn't without some excitement, as the Andorran champion, Santa Coloma, forfeit their home tie against Birkirkara after the match was postponed due to poor pitch conditions -- since the second leg was a 4-3 win for Birkirkara, one wonders how Santa Coloma might have fared could their home leg have been played?) This week was the first leg of the second qualifying round, and at least one player from the World Cup (Radoslav Petrovic of Serbia) is seeing action for his club, Partizan. Friday will be the draw for the third qualifying round, which will include teams like Ajax, Celtic, and Fenerbahçe.

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Predictions? Desires?

We're less than 48 hours from the kickoff... Anyone have any predictions? Any preferences? Personally, I'll be rooting for the Dutch. More history, they came close in 1974 and 1978, only to lose in extra time, twice, on the home fields of their opponents. Hard to get much closer than that. But I am expecting Spain to pull out another boring win.

Dive! Dive! Dive!

One of the more common complaint football detractors make is that players have a tendency to dive. Rajiv Sethi, an economist at Barnard and Columbia, has about diving from an economics perspective. Does diving upset opponents? Are the incentives to dive greater than the costs of diving? As a fan, I lose respect for players that consistently dive. Jurgen Klinsmann may joke about it now, but I could never support Germany when he was consistently diving in the box.

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World Cup by Continent

I have a friend who frequently makes the complaint to me that every continent except Europe is over-represented in the World Cup. With only six of thirteen teams advancing, I've not heard from him recently, but he does raise an interesting question about what is the right way to allocate places in the World Cup. For this World Cup, we had 31 slots allocated as follows:

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Survive and Advance

One of the challenges facing teams that want to win the World Cup is the need to be able to change their strategy at this point in the competition. In the previous 48 games, winning and scoring was important. One doesn’t know how goal difference will effect one’s chances of advancement, so you see teams like Portugal pour it on North Korea when they have the chance. You see teams that have won early take more chances to improve goal difference when a draw won’t hurt as much. You see discussions of tiebreakers and strategies for how to get into the top of the group.

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