Friday, 12 October 2012

Week 9: International Rescue!

Did you hear about the pack of Polos who took on some Foxes Glaciers at a game of football for no specified reason?

It was a MINTERNATIONAL!

Another weekend of World Cup qualifying matches and whilst there are options to choose from the lower domestic leagues, that would just be boring.  So this week, we focus on the international matches meeting the following criteria:
  • Are full internationals (no friendlies, no under 21s, etc.)
  • Count towards qualifying for the 2014 World Cup
  • Occur between the 12th and 16th of October
This long weekend technically has two rounds of qualifiers and so we could see the same team appearing twice in the predictions.  However, I am going to allow this as:
  • It gives us more choice of games
  • I'm going away for the weekend anyway so there is no chance of the results appearing until at least Wednesday
Thankfully our racism-enduring, bribe-welcoming, corruption-riddled, technophobic overlords at FIFA have provided us with a handy list of fixtures from which we can Gramble.  So without further need for unnecessary bullet-pointed lists, here are the predictions:
  • The predictions are below
Game 1: Venezuela vs Ecuador
Prediction: Draw
Venezuela has been in the news this week as President and fellow bowel cancer sufferer (we call each other bowellies, as in 'Whassup ma bowelly?') Hugo Chávez secured re-election and celebrated by making a bus driver his vice president.  This game gives Venezuela the chance to leapfrog their opponents in the qualifying group and depending on other results over the weekend, they could go joint second top.  The 'Zuela defeated Paraguay in their previous qualifying match thanks to a double from Rubin Kazan forward José Rondón.  Whilst the people of Venezuela have had much to celebrate this week, the people of Ecuador have been rather gloomy, thanks to the news that banana production is down by 25%Thankfully, their football team are flying high in the qualifying group and currently sit just one point below leaders Argentine.  Coach Reinaldo Rueda has confirmed that Manchester United's Antonio Valencia will miss out but is still confident of a win to keep pressure on the leaders.  Ecuador also play fellow top-spot challengers Chile this evening, whilst Venezuela get to sit this one out.  Could the additional match count against them?
Reliability balls: 6/10

Game 2: Bolivia vs Uruguay
Prediction: Home win
Staying in South America like a (insert ill-judged and erroneous kidnapping victim joke here) we are off to La Paz.  And as Micky Dolenz once sang, "then I saw her face, now I'm a Bolivia..."  The football team also seem to have been prone to monkeying around lately, as they currently sit joint bottom of the group with just four points from seven games.  A win against fellow strugglers Peru this evening could boost their confidence ahead of this tie.   And thanks to a confusing time-lapse in this weeks write-up which Marty McFly would be proud of, I can tell you that this game ended 1-1; Peru taking the lead through Juan Carlos Marino and Bolivia whilst Bolivia grabbed an equaliser via Alejandro Chumacero.  Urruguay are team that more of us will be familiar with thanks to stand-out players such as Diego Forlan, Edison Cavani and horrible, racist, diving cheat Luis Saurez.  Saurez has been in the news once again this week as FA vice-chairman Jim Boyce said that his diving was a 'cancer' of the game.  In response, Saurez fell over and clutched his leg, rolling around in faux-agony.  Uruguay visited Argentina last night and were the students of a Lionel Messi master-class, as a brace from the striker and another from Sergio Aguero resulted in a comfortable victory.
Reliability balls: 4/10

Game 3: Chile vs Argentina
Prediction: Away win
The Grambler sure does like a spot of South American football!  Chile sit fifth in the qualifying group just now, but their chances of making the finals were dealt a blow last night with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Ecuador.  Two goals from Felipe Caicedo and a late one from Segundo Castillo sealed the win for the hosts.  Chile only grabbed a consolation through an own goal from Juan Carlos Parades, who will not be eligible to play for them against Argentina.  In addition, the dismissal of both Pablo Contreras and Arturo Vidal means that they will be missing key players for this tie.  Chile had started their qualifiers in spicy form but unfortunately, that form has been peppered with inconsistencies.  The same cannot be said of group leaders Argentina.  Favourites to top the group from the start, they have lived up to this promise and have taken seventeen points from eight games.  However, with Colombia and Ecuador snapping at their heels, Argentina will be desperate to win this game and gibe themselves some breathing space at the helm of the group.  With players like Messi, Higuain, Mascherano and Aguero in their ranks, it should be easy to guarantee a win.  But if they fail to achieve victory, don't cry for them.
Reliability balls: 5/10

Game 4: Oman vs Jordan
Prediction:Home win
What can be said about this tie that we don't already know?  A hotly anticipated fixture, one that has hardly been out of the newspapers since the fixtures list was announced, between two of the footballing greats.  It is said that in the UK, Oman replica shirts outsell 'Frankie Says Relax' t-shirts at a ratio of 14:1 [citation needed].  Oman are currently rock-bottom of Group B in the Asian qualifying matches.  But they have taken two points from their three matches so it is not all bad.  The problem is that they have only scored one goal thus far.  Can they overcome their shyness in front of goal to take their first win?  Their opponents in this match are reality TV whore and former glamour model Jordan.  Currently 78th in the FIFA rankings, they sit second in the qualifying group, behind foregone conclusion Japan.  They have one win, one draw and one loss so far, but eight goals conceded in these matches suggests a leaky defence and/or crap keeper.  Captain Amer Deeb has said that Jordan will be hard to beat during this campaign.  Unfortunately for him, his surname is defined in the Urban Dictionary thusly:   "Shortened version of Duckbutter, or the accumulation of sweat, vaginal discharge, anal seepage, semen,  blood, saliva, urine, etc. around the taint/gooch area."
Reliability balls: ?/10

Game 5: Wales vs Scotland
Prediction: Draw
“We can play better than that and will do in our next match.”  I bookmarked that quote back in September following a dire draw with Macedonia.  The quotee (if there is such a word) is, of course, Mr Craig Levein.  And the reason for remembering this quote is so that, should Scotland get any less than a win this evening, I have proof that Levein is not only a terrible manager, but also a liar and should resign immediately.  Worryingly, in the lead up to this game Levein has said "we will treat this game as we have treated every other one."  So the game plan is 'have Kenny Miller run about up front whilt the rest of the team occasionally punt the ball towards them but generally aim for a point.'  Obviously Scotland's campaign could have gone worse.  Days after a goalless draw with Serbia last month, Scotland were embarrassed by a 1-1 draw with Macedonia.  Meanwhile, Wales were being mauled 6-1 by Serbia.  So, using science to calculate football results, Scotland should win this one 6-1, right?  Steven Fletcher and Levein have (thankfully) put aside their differences but expect the Lovable Tramp on the touchline to remain too stubborn to play.  I firmly believe that Kenny Miller has pictures or some other dirt on the gaffer...  For the Welshlings, 'greatest footballer in Britain and 100% non-diver' (copyrighted by Match of the Day) has been declared fit but Bernard's son Adam Matthews is likely to miss out.
Reliability balls: 6/10

Game 6: Romania vs Netherlands
Prediction: Away win
In what could be an exciting battle for the top-spot in Group D, both teams have a 100% record going into this game and the result could determine the eventual winners.  Romania gained their third successive win against Turkey last night thanks to a single goal from Gheorghe Grozav.  Current captain Răzvan Raț has impressed at both national level and club level with Shakhtar Donetsk and thinks that his team can top the group.  Which is pretty good considering he only took to football when the Romanian TV station Antena 1 dropped the defender from their version of this classic.  The Netherlands will also be keen to make the World Cup finals having finished as runners-up at the last tournament, thanks to their combination of football and mixed martial arts.  They have had convincing wins over Turkey, Hungary and Andorra in the group and  could face their toughest challenge to date in the in-form Romania.  Following tlast night's 3-0 over Andorra, Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal said that his team had "not done enough" and so will surely be expecting goals galore on Tuesday.  It has also be reported that he has been suffering from crystalline concretions formed within the bladder by accretion of bile components.  Yes, he has Gaalstones.
Reliability balls: 7/10

Game 7: England vs San Marino
Prediction: Home win
Engerland play host, a team who are renowned for losing.  In typical England fashion, the squad has warmed up for this qualifier by making front page news for all the wrong reasons.  We have John Terry, the massive racist, making the front pages for being a massive racist.  Then there's his Chelsea team-mate, Ashley Cole, who decided that the best way to enamour himself to the beaks at the FA on the week of his 100th cap was to call them a #bunchoftwats, which translates to 'bunch of twats' for those of you are not Twitter literate.  Or Twilliterate as it should be called.  And then there is Jermaine Defoe, who last night was caught with a hotel room full of midget hookers and a no less than FIFTEEN boxes of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.  Please note, only two of these controversies are real.  See if you can spot the fake story.  San Marino, meanwhile, are still looking for their first competitive football win and have only won one game in their history, a 1-0 victory over fellow minnows Liechtenstein.  Still, they get bonus points for having a name that rhymes with Dan Marino, the American football guy in Ace Venture.   
Reliability balls: 9/10

Not a bad bet this week, eh?  Or it would be the case if I could actually find an online betting firm which was actually willing to accept the bet!  It would appear that South American games in five days time are rather hard to place a bet on so I will be going old-school and strolling into a bookmakers in an attempt to place this one!

I shall update all missing information on Saturday morning and with any luck, the bet will still be on.  If either of tonight's bets go wrong, I shall be cheating and sticking a five-folds on for the others.  


STOP THE PRESSES!  As an update to this, I was not even able to place this bet at an old-school bookmakers last night.  And fortunately so as Scotland lived up to expectations by losing to a team with one good (diving) player on the night.  So the bet is still technically on, I shall place the five-folds on Monday morning and that should mean that the chances of winning have improved...

Happy Gramblin'!

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