OT: World Cup Thread 6/28 - Should Belgium-England Try to Lose?

Submitted by wildbackdunesman on June 28th, 2018 at 7:15 AM

An interesting question here - Belgium and England play and the winner wins the group G and the loser is guaranteed 2nd place in the group.

The winner moves to the left side of the bracket and the lose moves to the right side of the bracket.  Look at the bracket here - isn't there a much easier path on the right side of the bracket for the second place team (the team that loses today's match?)  Furthermore, both would be favored against their first round opponent - a team from Group H, but the winner of today would get Brazil/Mexico in the 2nd round and the loser would get Sweden/Switzerland in the 2nd round.

England currently holds the tie breaker - they both have the same goal differential, the same goals scores, but England leads on fair play with less yellow cards.

It probably doesn't matter, but it may be an easier path forward if Belgium or England loses today as weird as that sounds.




June 28th, 2018 at 7:35 AM ^

You do not play to lose. Both of these teams should believe they have the quality to match up vs any opponent. You do not mess with your players heads and have them give less than 100% effort. 


June 28th, 2018 at 3:49 PM ^

I think you have the order wrong. The “easier” route would be Columbia - Sweden/Swiss -  Spain. Let’s not forget upsets will happen, especially with the uncertainty of PKs should a game come to that. Also, do not be surprised to see Mexico bring it against Brazil. El Tri match up well stylistically and own An even record against Brazil in major tournament play (3-3-1) dating back to 2003.


June 28th, 2018 at 4:19 PM ^

Correct, those would be the potential opponents and I don't actually think there is an "easier" route there.  It looks to be about dead even based on 538's SPI.

Colombia is SIGNIFICANTLY better than Japan such that playing them in the first round even though you have you face the winner of Brazil/Mexico in the second round makes that about the same difficulty to the semis as Colombia + Sweden/Switzerland.

Once there I don't think there is a big difference between the potential opponents.  Spain/Croatia isn't easier than France/Argentina/Uruguay/Portugal.  That latter foursome is better OVERALL but there isn't a single team there as good as Spain and you only have to play one of them.  And Croatia look really good right now too.



June 28th, 2018 at 8:10 AM ^

You play to win...make that, you ALWAYS play to win. Jump at the opportunity to eliminate Mexico or Brazil-if you're going to win it all you have to beat the best at some point...may as well be sooner than later. 

BTB grad

June 28th, 2018 at 8:14 AM ^

Soccer is a very mental game and chemistry and tactics/strategy are highly important.

Playing to lose one match might ruin their chances in the knockout stage.

Hemlock Philosopher

June 28th, 2018 at 8:20 AM ^

I guess the left side is the "side of death" based mostly on names. Sweden just gutted Mexico and the Swiss tied Brazil. While Uruguay has been impressive, France, Argentina and Portugal have been lackluster. I'd say go for the win.

Coach Carr Camp

June 28th, 2018 at 9:29 AM ^

Agreed. I am no longer a betting man, but if I was I would be hammering France over Argentina. Other than Messi's goal, Argentina looked pathetic against Nigeria. It was pass to Messi and stand around and watch. They got bailed when Nigeria forgot to pick up a defender coming forward who then made a shot he makes 1 in 50 tries. France on the other hand took care of business in first 2 games and played to a boring tie in a meaningless game vs Denmark. 


June 28th, 2018 at 6:04 PM ^

There's nothing all that impressive about struggling with Australia 2-1 and beating Peru 1-0, though.

A +2 GD in a very weak group isn't that impressive. 

Completely agree that that pod is impressive in name recognition from top to bottom without a weak team in the group but the winner of it is likely to be the 2nd weakest semi-finalist.


June 28th, 2018 at 10:36 AM ^

Sweden is most underrated team in this tournament. They're the only team that beat France in qualification, they helped eliminate the Dutch, they beat Italy to qualify, and they just won a very difficult group! They are going to be a very difficult out.

Agreed about the names. Argentina isn't very good. They were quite lucky just to be in Russia with their poor qualification campaign. France has 1 goal in open play in 270 minutes. Mexico's win over Germany looks a lot more mediocre a week later (and they can't finish good chances). Portugal is one guy. Uruguay won the easiest group in history. Brazil at least seems to be rounding into form.

I wouldn't be excited about playing Brazil in the quarters, but there is none of those teams at the top of the bracket that would scare me if I was Belgium or England.


June 29th, 2018 at 12:40 AM ^

Curious about Portugal being underwhelming?

They are a good team but I wouldn't say anything great.  I don't think the team as a whole scares the better teams but the fact that Ronaldo could carry Portugal to victory scares teams.  

In the 2016 Euro Cup they tied all 3 games in group play, won 1-0 in the round of 16 on a goal in the 117th minute, won on PKs in the quarters, beat Wales 2-0 in the semi's and then beat France 1-0 to win it.  Props to them for doing what they had and needed to do to win the Euro Cup but it wasn't anything close to a dominating run to the title.  


June 28th, 2018 at 8:27 AM ^

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez admitted they are going to try to lose, "We have qualified and that was the priority," said Martinez. "Now we need to look at our individual players. We want to perform well but the priority is not to win. That is the reality, we have put ourselves in this situation, we wanted to qualify and we have done that."


While I agree, a road that could include Brazil, France, Argentina and Portugal is much more daunting than Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Russia and Spain, you have to play your best in competitions like this.

L'Carpetron Do…

June 28th, 2018 at 10:21 AM ^

Agree with your last comment.  Also - I would add that Mexico got rocked yesterday and if South Korea hadn't pulled a major upset, they would be going home. Similarly, Brazil hasn't looked like Brazil - certainly not vintage Brazil. So I wouldn't be that scared of playing them. To tell you the truth I think England and Belgium have been two of the best teams in the World Cup so far.


June 28th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

England and Belgium have played the exact same two opponents and scored the exact same amount of goals and let in the exact same amount of goals so far in group play.

Belgium has controlled the ball 56% of the time, taken 38 (18 on target) shots and allowed 21 (7 on target) shots, so far in group play.

England has controlled the ball 58.5% of the time, taken 29 (14 on target) shots and allowed 14 (3 on target) shots, so far in group play.

I don't see how you think that Belgium has looked good, but not England too.