E&T World Cup blog: day fourteen, Denmark vs Japan

Holy vacca! It’s arrividerci Azzuri, as Slovakia beat the Italians 3-2 to dump them out of the World Cup. The holders of the Jules Rimet trophy are history. What a game. 96 and a half minutes of World Cup fairytale magic. Glorious goals. Nefarious tactics. Last-ditch defending. Dying-seconds goals and misses. Lordy, what a game.

The Italian football team fly home early
The Italian football team fly home early

In the other match in Group F, Paraguay ground out a draw with New Zealand to see themselves through as table toppers, with Slovakia a point behind. Italy – like France in their group – finished bottom. Are we seeing a new footballing world order? Has the old guard had its day? Are the grand masters to be overturned by the apprentices? It’s like the impressionist and post-impressionist painters, innit? A bit.

Anyway, with Group F done and dusted, we’re turning our attention to the crucial game in Group E today, as Denmark take on Japan to decide who qualifies behind Holland. Denmark coach Morten Olsen has already described the game as “hopefully the first final” for his team. With Cameroon out of it, the Denmark vs Japan match certainly has a winner takes all flavour about it. And that flavour is victory!

New Japanese striker unveiled
New Japanese striker unveiled

Here are today’s predictions from our panel:

  • Dr Ian McHale, a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Salford: “Although Japan have looked OK, I will go with my model here and back Denmark.”
  • David Williams, head of PR at Ladbrokes: “Denmark win”.
  • Chris Day, goalkeeper for Stevenage FC: “1-0 to Denmark.”
  • Laura Daligan, ‘psychic, artist and pin-up’: “Japan will play an interesting match, but I feel Denmark will win.”

So no one fancies the Japanese, probably due to the absence of robot strikers up front. Oh, it’ll all be very different in 2050. These are just predictions, of course – what will the reality be? Why not add your comments and predictions below?

On the predictions front yesterday it was a clean sweep for our panel, happily, who had their faith in an England victory justified.

England’s 1-0 win proved especially hard on the Slovenians, as right up until the 92nd minute in the USA vs Algeria match, we were preparing to say “Smell you later” to the Yanks, as them drawing 0-0 with Algeria would have meant Slovenia went through. Then Landon Donovan scored and Slovenia were out of the World Cup. Oh, cruel fate! No partying for the streets of Ljubljana.

Remember: this is just for fun and all predictions are for entertainment only. Any mortgages lost or other sums squandered based on the information supplied are your own responsibility! And yes, I will keep mentioning this every day. No robot footballer is going to stop me.

Incidentally, if you want to read our magazine feature on the science of football prediction, I can heartily recommend it. If you’re not much of a reader, wear your eyeballs out on the accompanying football predictions video.

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