World Cup Referees Route to the Final

Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson did not get a game in the quarter finals of the World Cup in Brazil. I got into a discussion on Twitter if he has refereed his last game in the tournament and decided to take a look in the last five World Cups played. What I came up with is that it is hard to understand how FIFA choose their World Cup referees for the final stages.

Route to the final stages for the World Cup referees in the last five tournaments.

So, what can we say about this? Some interesting things about World Cup referees and how they are chosen in the very final stages are:

  • The ref in the final did not have a semi final in any case. Two had one game in the round of sixteen and no more, two had one quarter final and nothing more, and one (Said Belqola, Morocco) did not refereed any game after the group stage before the final! Hence, it is still possible for Jonas Eriksson to reach the final! (However, I do not believe that he will have a chance if a team from Europe faces a team from South America.)
  • No World Cup referee in the third-place match did have another game after the group stage!
  • In seven of the twenty matches investigated a referee from the round of sixteen has been chosen and in each tournament one or two refs from the round of sixteen got another game in the very last stages.

UPDATE 1: As @Abay_Anzali pointed out, and I did not think of, things are even more complicated since Jonas Eriksson got the position as fourth official in the quarter final (France-Germany). FIFA does probably not want Eriksson to be in charge of any these two teams’ matches again and there is perhaps no game left for him.

UPDATE 2: Here you can read more about all World Cup referees. Especially:

Jonas Eriksson, Sweden – Late knockout round game, and fourth official in quarterfinals. Probably out.

The only thing we can take for granted at the moment is that we cannot take anything for granted. Jonas Eriksson might get another game as a World Cup referee in 2014, but the probability is perhaps low.


World Cup Doubles

If you bet small (as I usually do) Comeon offers a fine bonus where a 100 SEK (Swedish Krona) deposit becomes 500 SEK playable money as long as you turn over your 500 SEK eight times on doubles with accumulated odds at least 2.0. I took the opportunity to play small doubles almost for free during the World Cup.

During the early game today I played doubles with the following (Asian Handicap) bets:

Costa Rica – Greece: Costa Rica +0 at 1.86. Result: 1-1. Push.
France – Nigeria: France -1 at 1.75. Result: 2-0. Win.
Argentina – Switzerland: Argentina -1 at 1.84. Result: 0-0. Loss.
Belgium – USA: Belgium -0.25 at 1.65. Result: 0-0. Half loss.
Brazil – Colombia: Colombia +1 at 1.53. Result: 2-1. Push.

Hence, 10 doubles has been played (25 SEK each) and I hope I will get at least three of the games in. All doubles are:

Costa Rica +0 & France -1 at 3.26. Result: +18.75 SEK.
Costa Rica +0 & Argentina -1 at 3.42. Result: -25 SEK.
Costa Rica +0 & Belgium -0.25 at 3.07. Result: -12.50 SEK.
Costa Rica +0 & Colombia +1 at 2.85. Result: +-0 SEK.
France -1 & Argentina -1 at 3.22. Result: -25 SEK.
France -1 & Belgium -0.25 at 2.89. Result: -3.13 SEK.
France -1 & Colombia +1 at 2.68. Result: +18.75 SEK.
Argentina -1 & Belgium -0.25 at 3.04. Result: -25 SEK.
Argentina -1 & Colombia +1 at 2.82. Result: -25 SEK.
Belgium -0.25 & Colombia +1 at 2.52. Result: -12.50 SEK.


Quick thoughts:

  • Costa Rica have been better than Greece so far and I do not think that Greece will win during full time. A draw no bet price of 1.86 for Costa Rica is fine.
  • France are one of the best teams so far and I believe that they are too good for Nigeria.
  • Argentina have not impressed very much, but they have a much stronger team than Switzerland and I expect that Messi will show his qualities.
  • Belgium should be a lot better than USA and the prices are good in my opinion. I am a bit scared of the draw though and take Belgium -0.25.
  • Colombia have been much better than Brazil so far and, despite the home advantage for Brazil, I believe that Colombia should be slight favourites. I play it a bit safe and take Colombia +1 though.
Will James Rodriquez continue with his brilliant game? Photo from
Will James Rodriquez continue with his brilliant game? Photo from

World Cup – Thoughts

world_cup_2014_blatterI had plans, so many plans, to write posts and to study heavily pre World Cup, but – as always – time flies and here we are, a couple of hours before kick off in the opening game.

The least I could do is to write a post about my thoughts. Who will win the tournament? Who will qualify from each group?

I sat down and guessed the result in each game. There will probably not be as many teams with full points (or no points) after the group stage as my picks suggest but here is what I came out with.

World Cup Group A: Brazil (9 points) – Croatia (6 p) – Mexico (1 p) – Cameroon (1 p)

The Brazilian team is strong and the home advantage will probably help them and I believe that they will win the last two games in the group. But I am not that certain that their attack is good enough in the long run. Moreover, is the midfield top-top-world-class? And what about the goalkeeping situation? For me, the Croatian midfield with Modric and Rakitic and others is the best in Group A and Brazil might struggle to beat Croatia.

I would say 1-0 in the opening game, but if you are into betting I think that Croatia +1.25 have good value. The prices are way above 2.00 at the moment and that is good (Pinnacle Sports have 2.33 and Bet365 2.25)! I considered an under bet earlier but the market seems about right for me.

Mexico and Cameroon have to fight to get anything out of this group.

Group B: Spain (9 p) – Netherlands (4 p) – Chile (4 p) – Australia (0 p)

I think that Spain have the best squad in the tournament and that they are a bit undervalued at the moment. If Diego Costa is fit enough Sain is my pick. Historically, European teams have problems to win World Cups in South America (and vice versa), but I do not think that this factor is very important. It was long ago since a World Cup was played in South America and I do not believe that this factor is as important today as years ago.

Australia’s squad is very young and inexperienced and they should not have any chances in this tough group. It is up to the Netherlands and Chile to compete for the second place. The question is if Chile´s offensive qualities will get them a place in the final stages. I picked Netherlands by goal difference, but here it could really go either way.

Group C: Colombia (7 p) – Ivory Coast (5 p) – Japan (4 p) – Greece (0 p)

Perhaps the most interesting group beforehand with four rather strong teams from different areas and football cultures.

Colombia are good despite the injury on Falcao. I think that they will beat Greece in the opening (2-0) and then qualify by a win against Japan and draw against Ivory Coast. Colombia could be the dark horse in the World Cup 2014. But they could also fail to qualify from the group…

I have the feeling that Greece will miss out, even though nil points is perhaps too harsh. Ivory Coast could also be one of the dark horses in this tournament. After failed to qualify from very tough groups in 2006 and 2010 they now have the possibility to go through. With players like Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Kalou, and Drogba they will be hard to defend against.

Group D: Italy (5 p) – Uruguay (3 p) – England (3 p) – Costa Rica (2 p)

Another very interesting group. Here I believe that we will see a hell of a lot of drawn games. I took draws in each game except Italy – Costa Rica.

Costa Rica are not bad and Celso Borges from AIK (in Sweden) is good enough to play in a top league. England are not bad, but I think they will find it difficult to win games and miss out in goal difference against Uruguay who will score (and concede) more goals.

Group E: France (9 p) – Ecuador (4 p) – Switzerland (2 p) – Honduras (1 p)

France might have found the formula that made them world champions in 1998. Their squad is top class and they have found themselves in a rather easy group. Watch out!

Ecuador are perhaps better than most think and I think the will go through after a win against Honduras and draw against Switzerland.

Group F: Argentina (9 p) – Bosnia and Herzegovina (4 p) – Nigeria (4 p) – Iran (0 p)

Iran were unlucky when they got two excellent teams (Agentina and Bosnia) and a good team (Nigeria). Argentina are one of the main favourites to win the complete tournament and I believe and hope that Messi has found the form and prove that he is one of the best ever. Argentine will perhaps play Spain in the semi final and if that happens I think that the winner will take the gold medal.

Bosnia are playing their first World Cup, but the new team could be one of many dark horses. Watch out for Nigeria though.

Group G: Germany (9 p) – Ghana (4 p) – Portugal (4 p) – USA (0 p)

Germany is world class and I think that they will go through to the final! They miss Marco Reus and that is a very big blow. Portugal did not impress in the qualification, but they never do. I hope that Ghana will go through to the final stages, but that might be a pick with my hart more than my brain…

USA have to hope for a point at all.

Group H: Belgium (7 p) – Russia (7 p) – Algeria (3 p) – Korea Republic (0 p)

Belgium are extremely hyped before the tournament and they have an extremely strong team. The question is if they can cope with the expectations. The players play in the largest clubs in Europe and should have the quality and experience to go through, despite lack of experience on the international level.

Russia are hard to predict. All the players play in the national league, but I believe that Algeria and Korea are too weak and guess that Russia will join Belgium to the final stages.



Brazil – Netherlands: Brazil (tough game for Brazil?)
Colombia – Uruguay: Colombia
Spain – Croatia: Spain
Italy – Ivory Coast: Italy (but here I have a feeling for Ivory Coast)
France – Bosnia: France
Germany – Russia: Germany (easy…)
Argentina – Ecuador: Argentina (easy…)
Belgium – Ghana: Ghana


France – Germany: Germany (but France could really surprise Germany)
Brazil – Colombia: Brazil (Brazil will have another tough game)
Italy – Spain: Spain
Argentina – Ghana: Argentina


Brazil – Germany: Germany (the steam is out…)
Spain – Argentina: Spain

Brazil – Argentina: Argentina

Spain – Germany: Spain – Spain are the World Cup winners!!!

World Cup winners Spain

Fabrice Olinga

The World Cup in Brazil is coming up and it is time to start writing blog posts again. The World Cup is the venue for the big stars from the biggest football countries and clubs. But smaller countries with less known players that might get a breakthrough are also involved. Therefore, I’ve decided to study and write about a few players that I didn’t know much about before the tournament. The first player out is Fabrice Olinga from Cameroon.

Fabrice Olinga – The youngest goal scorer in La Liga

When I saw the name Fabrice Olinga in Cameroon’s squad I instantly knew that I have seen the player before, but I had no idea from where. Olinga plays for S.V. Zulte Waregem in Belgium and it couldn’t been from there I recognised him and his name, could it?

No, after some research I discovered that Fabrice Olinga has played in Spain for Malaga (and in Mallorca’s youth team). He recently turned 18 and is in fact the youngest player in the World Cup. He made his debut for Malaga already under Manuel Pellegrini in the 2012/2013 opening game away to Celta Vigo. He came on as a substitute and scored the only goal in the game. He was 16 years and 98 days at the time and became the youngest ever goalscorer in La Liga!

From Samuel Eto’o Private Foundation

Olinga came to Mallorca from the Samuel Eto’o Private Foundation – a non-profit organisation that encourages education and the protection of children in Africa. It was set up by Olinga’s world famous countryman in 2006.

The organisation scouts young talent from all over the African continent, but predominantly in Western Africa and mostly in Cameroon. A few selected players get sent to Europe for games with two of Samuel Eto’o’s former clubs, Mallorca and Barcelona. It was on such a journey that Mallorca discovered Fabrice Olinga’s talent.

Malaga – Apollon Limassol – Zulte Waregem

fabrice_olingaAfter Olinga’s dream start in Malaga and La Liga he only managed to appear in nine more first team matches and scored no more goals. Malaga have tried to tie the young forward up for a long term deal, but he has refused to sign a new contract and in January 2014 he was sold to Cypriot side Apollon Limassol, but he was instantly loaned out to Zulte Waregem. In seven first team appearances in Belgium he hasn’t managed to score so far.

Fabrice Olinga still has a long way to travel in his planned journey to the stars and is far from the first eleven in Cameroon’s national team. He has appeared on the pitch in seven games and managed one goal (of course in his debut, against Cape Verde in October 2012). Olinga is likely to spend the 2014 World Cup from the sideline, but he will probably learn a lot from the experience. Despite a recent dip in his career he is still a great talent and he might have a bright future ahead of him.

If you understand French and/or Spanish you could always follow Fabrice Olinga on Twitter.