Get ready for the World Cup pool
UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: The pool is on! Enter here.
The early, "group," round of the World Cup "football" tournament in Germany ends this afternoon, at which point we will have all 16 teams who will move on to the single-elimination rounds starting tomorrow. As of this writing, 12 of the 16 are known, with Italy, Ghana, Brazil, and Australia all having become official yesterday. (The USA side continued its anemic performance on its way out the door.) The last two groups are largely up for grabs, although Spain looks to be a pretty sure bet to advance, and Togo is a no-go.
Once today's matches wrap up (around 2 p.m. PDT), you're invited to join an informal pool on this blog to call the winners of the remaining matches in the tournament, which winds up with the championship game on Sunday July 9. It would be illegal to gamble for something of value, of course, but there's no law against our getting together for a couple of drinks of one's choice at a suitable location here in Portland after the results are official, and I might even be inclined to buy for the winner.
There will be 16 games in the pool: eight this weekend through Tuesday; four quarterfinals next Friday and Saturday; one semi-final on the Fourth of July and another on the 5th; a game for third place on July 8; and the big finale on the 9th.
Given my limited internet skills, I'm afraid I don't have a fillable bracket for you to submit (other than my feeble attempt at an Excel spreadsheet, here), and so here's how to enter:
1. Check out the official brackets at the FIFA site here.
2. Note that each remaining match has a number assigned to it (49 to 64).
3. Submit your pick for each match in the comments to the "official" entry post on this blog, which will go up around 2:00 this afternoon -- DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR PICKS ON THE POST YOU ARE READING NOW. But do feel free to use the comments to this post to discuss whom you might pick, and why. On your entry form, please use the official match number for each match.
Scoring will be as follows:
One point for every correct selection in the round of 16 (49 to 56).
Two points for every correct selection in the quarterfinal round (57 to 60).
Three points for every correct selection in the semi-finals (61 and 62).
Two points for the correct selection in the third-place match (63).
Five points for the correct selection in the final match (64).
Here are the matchups, in a narrative form. Perhaps you can cut and paste this to get your entry together. I'll fill in the missing teams as they become known:
49. Germany vs. Sweden. Winner: __________
50. Argentina vs. Mexico. Winner: __________
51. England vs. Ecuador. Winner: __________
52. Portugal vs. Netherlands. Winner: __________
53. Italy vs. Australia. Winner: ____________
54. Team TBA later today (Group G top team) vs. Ukraine. Winner: ____________
55. Brazil vs. Ghana. Winner: ____________
56. Spain vs. team TBA later today (Group G runner-up). Winner: ____________
Quarterfinals (2 points each)
57. Winner of Germany-Sweden vs. winner of Argentina-Mexico. Winner: __________
58. Winner of Italy-Australia vs. winner of match 54. Winner: __________
59. Winner of England-Ecuador vs. winner of Portugal-Netherlands. Winner: __________
60. Winner of Brazil-Ghana vs. winner of match 56. Winner: __________
Semi-finals (3 points each)
61. Winner of match 57 vs. winner of match 58. Winner: __________
62. Winner of match 59 vs. winner of match 60. Winner: __________
Third place match (2 points)
63. Loser of match 61 vs. loser of match 62. Winner: __________
Championship match (5 points)
64. Championship game, winner of match 61 vs. winner of match 62. Winner: __________
If you can fill out a March Madness bracket, you can do this. Entries must be posted by "kickoff" (what's the start of a soccer match called? I'm so hopeless) of the first game tomorrow -- 8 a.m.! Hope to see you this afternoon and evening.