Ahead of the World Cup pundits are looking at recent matches between the teams, and trying to decide if they give a key to how the tournament will pan out. Does Brazil’s 3-0 win over Spain last year, for example, give a clue as to how the results will unfold.
But are the pundits being too short-sighted by limiting their analysis to just football results? Can you predict the World Cup scores by looking at recent bridge matches between the countries?
Each day this blog will look at a recent bridge match between two nations who are playing that day, and work out a prediction for the World Cup fixture.
Friday 20th June
After the failure of recent predictions it is perhaps time to concede defeat, and turn attentions to events in Croatia at the European Championships. Let's hope bridge results continue to have no relation to football results and all the England teams can actually do well...
For those still wanting a prediction, I can recommend Dillon the Armadillo - he's been on a roll recently.
Thursday 19th June
England v Uruguay
Suarez and co. should be concerned, because in Sao Paulo in 2009 the England Seniors gave their Uruguayan counterparts a thumping, Firstly Hackett capitalised on some cautious Uruguayan play, and then some good defending allowed Hackett to net another. Uruguay pushed to get back into the match, but left themselves exposed as England grabbed a third, and with the match beyond them they took their foot off the gas allowing Harper to score another for the Three Lions.
Bridge Result: England 67 - Uruguay 6
World Cup Prediction: England 4 - Uruguay 0
Wednesday 18th June
Chile v Spain
Chile and Spain played at the World Olympiad in Lille in 2012, with the Spanish eventually winning convincingly. Spain started well, with Wasik twice being rewarded for his side's adventurous approach. The Chileans leveled things up before half-time however, with Caracci, twice benefiting from attacking play. This approach backfired in the second half, however, with Spain twice scoring on the counter attack.
Bridge Result: Chile 26 - Spain 58
World Cup Prediction: Chile 2 - Spain 4
Outcome: Chile 2 - Spain 0. Well, it was half right, just a shame about Spain's contribution.
Tuesday 17th June
Mexico v Brazil
The sides met at the Bermuda Bowl in Sao Paulo in 2009, and on home soil the Brazilians won 3-1. Brazil netted twice in the first half, once after a big error by Mexicans, the other after some bold attacking play by the Brazilians. Mexico pulled one back on the stroke of half-time after misjudgements in both attack and defence by Brazil, but they failed to make further inroads and Brazil finished them off on the stroke of full time.
Bridge Result: Mexico 22 - Brazil 56
World Cup Prediction: Mexico 1 - Brazil 3
Outcome: Mexico 0 - Brazil 0.
Monday 16th June
Unfortunately there are no recent bridge matches on a world stage on which to base predictions for today's matches. Germany and Portugal have been in different groups stages at World Olympiads, and Portugal haven't qualified for recent Bermuda Bowls. They did play in the European Championships in 2012, but that finished in the equivalent of a 5-1 win for Germany, and that would be a foolish prediction as results like that, between two powers of European football, never happen at the World Cup...
Outcome: Turns out the bridge results are a good indication, as Germany won by four goals after all.
Saturday 14th June
England v Italy
The two nations played in the fourth match of the Bermuda Bowl in Bali in 2013. Italy won and went on to win the whole competition, with England bowing out at the quarter final stage. An omen for the World Cup?
The two teams traded blows throughout a frenetic first half, including an audacious effort from David Gold, and it was 2-2 at the break. The match was much tighter in the second half, but Italy bagged the winner midway the period. Mickie 'Motson' Melanderr was reporting from pitchside and you can read his summary here.
Bridge Result: England 32 - Italy 43
World Cup Prediction: England 2 - Italy 3
Outcome: England 1 - Italy 2. Obviously bridge players are better at taking chances than football players.
Friday 13th June
Spain v Netherlands
The last meeting between the two countries was in the World Olympiad in Lille in 2012. Spain started well but the Dutch struck the first blow midway through the first half, when Van Prooijen neatly found his way through the Spanish defense. A relative stalemate followed, before Spain scored twice in quick succession midway through the second half. Firstly Lantaron and Goded dealt admirably with the long ball tactics employed by the Dutch to level things up, and then Goded added a second immediately after. The Netherlands had chances as the match continued, but the Spanish held on to win.
Bridge Result: Spain 34imps – Netherlands 21imps
World Cup Prediction: Spain 2 – Netherlands 1
Outcome: Spain 1 - Netherlands 5. I don't think anyone in the world predicted that outcome, so maybe the bridge tea leaves can be excused.
Thursday 12th June
Brazil v Croatia
The two sides met in Shanghai in the Venice Cup in 2007, but unlike in Sao Paulo, this wasn’t the opening fixture of the competition. It was the penultimate match, and only time will tell whether the fatigue the teams were undoubtedly feeling will be more or less important than the opening match nerves and rustiness likely to be seen in the Arena de Sao Paulo.
Brazil scored twice in quick succession in the opening quarter of the match. First Pacheco and Pain combined to put Brazil in front, then a defensive error from the Croatian duo of Petrovic and Muller allowed De Mello to sneak in another. Croatia came back into the game as the half ended, but failed to make an impression on the Brazilian lead. In the second half both teams had a few half-chances but neither could take advantage, until in the final moments when Croatia pushed too much trying to get back into the match, and Brazil collected a third.
Bridge Result: Brazil 49imps – Croatia 12imps
World Cup Prediction: Brazil 3 – Croatia 0
Outcome: Brazil 3 - Croatia 1.
Foiled by an own-goal. I'm not certain what the equivalent of an own-goal is in bridge. A revoke which means a contract makes, perhaps?