Thursday, April 02, 2009

Comparing with previous WCQ campaigns

Let's make a memory exercise just to see how we are doing overall in this World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Ever since the qualification for France 1998, South American national teams have been all competing in only one group of 10, with every team facing each other twice (home and away). Before that, they were divided in two groups (some times more than two groups) and they played teams from their group in a one-month period. The form team, or the lucky one, would often advance, other than the best out of a period of two years of facing every team in the region both home and away.

To add to this explanation, there's something that helps us compare this campaign with the two previous ones. In France 1998, the order was different. Besides, since Brazil were World Cup holders and automatically qualified, there were only 9 teams taking place in the tournament. We can't really compared the current campaign with the one from 1998.

Now, if we compare the 2002 and 2006 campaigns with the current one (10 teams, home and away and same order in the fixtures), here's the result we get.

After the 12th round of matches, Argentina had collected:

29 points in 2002
25 points in 2006
19 points in 2010

Yes, our production when it comes to points collection clearly decreased. OK, but...let's read a little bit in detail into those numbers.

First of all, that BIELSA's team of Argentina set the record of 43 points at the end of the qualifying campaign for 2002. It was a product of 13 wins, 4 draws and only 1 defeat (away to Brazil). In my opinion, that campaign will be impossible to match, let alone beat.

It would be unfair to jump at Diego's jugular because we have 10 points less from what he had in 2002 or six less than this time of the year before Germany 2006. I guess you'll all agree with that. He's only been in charge for two matches and got 50% of the points at stake.

Competition in the region is getting fiercer and fiercer. Teams like Venezuela (even when they haven't taken points from us) are improving and winning games. Venezuela finished their 2002 qualification campaign with 16 points. They had 18 for 2006 and with six games to go, they already have 13 this time.

HOW MANY POINTS DO WE NEED TO QUALIFY?

Let's take a look at the qualified teams for previous World Cups and have in mind the fifth placed team (the one with a right to participate in a playoff to get to the World Cup), needed 27 points in 2002 and 25 points in 2006.

After 10 weeks in the 2002 WCQ campaign, Argentina had 29 points and were leading the standings. Behind them:

Brazil 21 (same as this time around); Paraguay 19; Ecuador and Uruguay 15.

For 2006, Argentina had 25 points and were ahead of Brazil (19); Paraguay (16); Ecuador (13) and Uruguay (11).

Based on statistics and what happened in the previous WCQ tournament, you can say we would need 6 points from our next 6 matches to at least make it to South Africa 2010 through the playoffs by finishing 5th in South America.

But leaders Paraguay are at 24 points (less that what Argentina had in both 2002 and 2006). Teams are beating each other in ways it didn't happen in the past. Chile are pretty much in the mix. Things are changing all the time.

THE KEY IS TO IMPROVE THE AWAY FORM

Several teams still have a good enough shot at that coveted fifth spot and away wins are extremely rare! Out of the 10 matches played between last weekend and Wednesday, only Chile managed to get an away win (at bottom-placed Perú).

This is very true, especially with Argentina.

It's our away form that's making the difference this time around.

Let's see...in 2002 (the record-setting campaign), we won four out of our six away matches up to the 12th round, with one draw (Bolivia) and one defeat (Brazil).

In 2006, we won at Bolivia, Perú and Venezuela, managed draws in Colombia and Chile and lost to Brazil for a 3 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss record.

In the current campaign, we have only defeated Venezuela away from home. Draws with Perú and Brazil and defeats at Colombia, Chile and Bolivia have put is in an uncomfortable position.

Our next visits are not exactly walks in the park: Ecuador (round 14); Paraguay (round 16) and Uruguay (round 18), but with good results at home, we will surely be able to secure enough points to make it to South Africa.

Again, things are tighter than ever before and the good news is that Argentina are 5 points clear from the 6th and 7th placed teams: Colombia and Ecuador. A win in Buenos Aires against Colombia will make it 8 points with only 15 to go. A win in Quito (not looking very likely, but nothing impossible) would also separate Argentina from Ecuador by a good margin of points.

Add to that the fact that Ecuador and Colombia still have to face each other (round 15 in Colombia) and that both have to play Uruguay, which means all of those teams will take points from each other. It's not that easy to cut the distance when you're coming from behind.

Look on the bright side!

14 comments:

p2bn said...

Well, I really don't see the possibility of not qualifying. I mean if our team with Diego as coach and Messi the player can't qualify, man that would be something. And although I am also responsible for this, but some people say the Argentinian fans jump too high with a win and dig too deep with a loose :-). Well I guess that's true for many of us I guess and many times like Messi say we loose very bad when we don't expect to loose.

The only thing bothering me is that the games are in September, that is a very very very long time wait after waiting so long again. Especially after defeat, its very hard to wait.

Vamos Albiceleste

messidona19 said...

this is getting more and more tense by each match we don't win! the next two matches are like 2 finals we HAVE to win. slipping up in one of the matches will mean that brazil and paraguay will want to hurt our chances , i know we can't blame maradona for this defeat because bolivia played one of the most atractive football but it hurts to see that argentina still get trounced once in a while mostly by brazil and this time by bolivia where they don't play their most magnificent powerful football . the most important thing now is to stay united and focus on the 2 matches ahead... i don't want argentina to just make it to 5th , i want them to make it comfortably

Sebastian said...

A new podcast coming up soon. It was already recorded and it'll be up shortly.

P2BN, the matches against Brazil and Paraguay will be in September, but first, Argentina will host Colombia and travel to Ecuador in early June.

It's a long wait, but not so long.

Lalo said...

Luckily on this day of sorrow a fellow countryman has come to our rescue to provide some pride and hope for all of Argentina. Juan Martin del Potro came back from two breaks down in the third set and upset no. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in a quarterfinal matchup at the Sony Ericsson Open.

John said...

This is a very detailed and tip top analysis which you have provided to us Seba. Bravo!

I would still say that we are good enough to qualify for South Africa as one of the top four from South America. Yes, our path will not be easy and never was in the first place. But I’m sure with home campaign against the likes Colombia and Peru; we will collect maximum points from here.

As for the match against Brazil, I’m sure everyone will be upbeat about the game and for sure they will want end the draught that has been going on since 2005. So I do expect we will (or might) collect another 3 points from there.

I will agree that we need to improve on our away matches. Once again the altitude will come into the picture when we travel to Ecuador and then there is that visit to Asuncion to face Paraguay. Overall it will a rough challenge ahead but I’m sure will settled in pretty well and be there for 2010.

Like everyone here, I will too be counting on my calendar every day till June for our next two matches. I’m eager to see just how the players will react to the whole to this defeat and go out there to prove the critics wrong.

I’ve been hearing some news that finally the wall are beginning to crack for our National Team following Diego’s appointment. Well my question to these people is that, what do they know? They emerge during times like this and in good times we will never get to see their face.

I will rather not consider this defeat as a disaster but just mere lost of 3 points, that’s it.

Furthermore, please take note that Brazil did not set the world on fire during the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign but in the end it was them who finally emerge as the World Champions. Hence, maybe we can this example from a bitter rival when it comes judging our situation.

Our path towards 2010 will be long, rough, winding and full of obstacle but together we will get there.

Lalo, thanks for sharing with us on this great news from Juan Martin DEL POTRO. The last time I remember hearing about him, he was outplayed by the former World No.1 Roger FEDERER in Australia. Today he has defeated the current top player in the ATP circuit.

Anonymous said...

It's been heartbreak city for me and Sports for the last couple of years. Argentina losing in Copa America Fina, Federer not winning the French then losing Wimb then Aussie. I think only good thing that has came out of it was winning gold in the Olympics, everything else has been just bad.

Jack!

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

For some reading about playing in the altitude, check out this interesting article from BBC's Tim VICKERY "Coping With High Altitude".

Sebastian said...

Another good article by Vickery. He does a great job in explaining the things that surround football matches in South America.

One thing though, I don't agree with him when he says Brazil have an easier run-in than Argentina.

Look at Brazil's next six matches:

Away to Uruguay (as we heard from Rafael in our latest podcast, that's their bogey ground).

Away to Argentina and away to Bolivia (you know it won't be easy for them up there -or down here for that matter-).

At home to Paraguay and Chile (both up there in the standings) and only one easy fixture at home to Venezuela.

That's not an easier run-in that ours.

Chile do have an easier run-in! At home to Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador (they could easily win those three).

Away to Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia are not walks in the park, but with 9 points from their home matches, they'll make it to South Africa.

Abs said...

C'mon guys, let us be honest..
Like most of you -if not all- I have no doubt that Argentina will make it to the World Cup, and not even through the 5th postion. But we have to look deeper into this, coz it isn't just a big lost from Bolivia of the worst qulification since a long time. This is the team which suppose to take the next two World Cups, and if we can't beat Bolivia or all the other teams in our group then how are we suppose to beat Spain, England, or the other european teams. And please stop talking about altitued or home and away games, coz I believe you all know where the World Cup 2014 will be at. I am not fired up becoz of the 6-1, but bcoz the players were ghosts in that game !!

cha said...

I'm sure argentina will qualify to south africa. No problem they stay at 4th place. We must realize that football has change a lot and most country in south america make a progress. Most of all, the weak country have an extra motivation to beat team like argentina or brazil.

Well, we can't repeat the success qualification campaign at 2002 when Bielsa handled national team. But remember, we are so strong in qualification but in korea-japan collapse in first round! It means nothing to me!!! Hope La Paz disaster will be a good lesson for maradona to build a solid team and mental strenght in South Africa! Go ARGENTINA

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