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Friday, February 01, 2013

OT: The Soccer Thread: February 2013

Well, it was on time last month!

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 01, 2013 at 11:59 AM | 1499 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off-topic

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   501. DA Baracus Posted: February 07, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4365228)
Why don't we do a 4-3-3 with Fabian Johnson at RM, Brek Shea or Chandler (once he gets some training in with Stoke) at LM, Bradley in the middle, then some combo of Dempsey/Altidore/Gomez/Johnson up top?


Johnson is a left sided player. Manny's got a typo on that since he listed two RMs. You could play Johnson at LM, but then who is your LB? Castillo has been inconsistent, but there isn't anyone clearly better. Eric Lichaj has apparently faded into obscurity, Bocanegra can't play outside anymore, everyone else failed to take over the job when the US was just dying for a LB solution.

Seems like Klinsy is trying to get the most talented players on the field regardless if they are playing out of position or not, so far it's not working.


I disagree. He has been leaving more talented players on the bench in favor of his guys. Fitness being equal, Gomez shouldn't be starting over Altidore, Orsco Fiscal shouldn't be on the roster let alone start, Edu should probably play over Williams in key games.
   502. Manny Coon Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4365243)
Why don't we do a 4-3-3 with Fabian Johnson at RM, Brek Shea or Chandler (once he gets some training in with Stoke) at LM, Bradley in the middle, then some combo of Dempsey/Altidore/Gomez/Johnson up top?

Seems like Klinsy is trying to get the most talented players on the field regardless if they are playing out of position or not, so far it's not working.


I agree with the other comment it isn't quite enough defense.

If you want to play guys like Fabian or Shea outside, you're still want Bradley and another central player with Bradley, which is essentially what Bradley when he used a 4-man midfield like Dempsey-Bradley-Clark-Donovan. With Bradley, both of the CMs played typical box to box, but that isn't necessary, one of them could also be a more stay at home DM, which should make the defense more solid than under Bradley, but put more attackers on than Klinsmann.

Assuming we were stuck with the guys called this past game (and we're not), they could play Dempsey and Fabian outside and use Bradley and one of Williams, Jones or Edu in the middle and Johnson and Altidore up top. You could switch Eddie Johnson and Dempsey if you wanted as well. If you still wanted Fabian at LB, you could use Gomez either up top or on one of the wings. You'd essentially be removing one of Jones or Williams for another attacker, but still have a dedicated DM.

If you want stick to 5 midfielders there other options. Bradley could deep and with of Jones/Edu/Williams next to him, Dempsey as a central attacker and the Johnsons/Gomez on the wings. Another option is Bradley/Williams/Jones/Edu deep, one of Bradley/Jones at one CM, one of Zusi/Kljestan at the other CM and two of Johnson/Dempsey/Gomez wide.

There are a lot of ways to take the same roster and put what would probably be a more balanced lineup on the field. Replacing a few guys on the roster would add even more options.
   503. Manny Coon Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4365246)
Johnson is a left sided player.


Johnson is right footed, but is good with both feet, he can play either side, but he usually plays on the left because there are usually less left footed players. Dempsey used to play on the left a lot as well, but can play almost anywhere.
   504. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 07, 2013 at 05:48 PM (#4365270)
I am presuming it is Spurs for shots or else you probably wouldn't have mentioned it. I know it is CIty for shots on target conceded by some margin.

Just shots conceded, Grover. WhoScored only splits out SoT on the attacking stats, not defensive.
I'm collecting the data week to week - because I have an exciting life and many friends - and while City are well ahead of the pack in shots on target allowed (~2.6/game), Tottenham are solidly second (~3.2/game) ahead of Liverpool at 3.6 and Everton at 3.9.

Some stat notes:

-City continue to dominate in underlying stats, but they're still converting chances at a rate well below league average. I just have a lot of trouble imagining that will continue, given their forward talent.
-United have returned to about league average conversion rates in the last month and a half, but they keep winning anyway.
-Liverpool attack has caught up - on the season, they have actually scored more goals than would be expected based on underlying shooting and big chance numbers. They've been converting chances at an amazing rate since mid-December. Their new problem is that their G/GA numbers haven't converted into points at expected rates.
-Everton by contrast continue to produce significantly fewer goals than their chances would project. If they can't get a striker in form soonish, they're going to fall back. No one has had an easier schedule than Everton so far.
-Reading still probably suck. (Sorry Baldrick.) They've had a few weeks of ridiculous shot conversion (11 G on 19 shots on target) and poor opponent chance conversion, leading to some good recent results, but I see little reason to expect that will continue.
-Chelsea under Benitez might even have been lucky to take the points they have recently. Their underlying numbers for the last six gameweeks aren't meaningfully better than Swansea's or Southampton's.
   505. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 07, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4365315)
Also, QPR's recent defensive form looks like a bit of a mirage. (Or, in part, a Julio Cesar in crazy form effect). Their defense has been significantly below average in all of shots / shots on target / shots in the box / big chances allowed, even as they're been brilliant at preventing their opponents from scoring.

I've watched a bunch of QPR for some reason this month, and it does seem like they rely on Cesar saving two or three excellent shots plus a big chance or two going awry every game. Cesar is good, maybe even excellent, but allowing 50% fewer goals than would be expected based on competition (QPR's form the last six weeks) can't be sustainable with their talent level.
   506. DA Baracus Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4365341)
Johnson is right footed, but is good with both feet, he can play either side, but he usually plays on the left because there are usually less left footed players. Dempsey used to play on the left a lot as well, but can play almost anywhere.


He is right footed, but he plays on the left for club and country. I'd prefer to keep him on the side he is used to, we have enough problems with playing guys in uncomfortable roles.
   507. SuperGrover Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4365364)
BTW, regarding SOT allowed, the top 5 are:

MCI 2.52
TOT 3.08
EVE 3.48
LIV 3.60
STO 3.88

Top 5 SOT differential:

MCI 3.44
TOT 3.16
EVE 2.20
LIV 1.68
ARS 1.24

The lack of United in the second group indicates how ridiculously clinical their finishing has been this season.

Speaking of, quick quiz: which team is second behind United in conversion of shots on target into goals? Hint: it's not Chelsea (they are third at 40.2%).

EDIT: ####, didn't see Matt Clement's post above. He already stole some of my thunder.
   508. Manny Coon Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4365366)
He is right footed, but he plays on the left for club and country. I'd prefer to keep him on the side he is used to, we have enough problems with playing guys in uncomfortable roles.


When he first started at Hoffenheim he would play all over, so he has experience on both sides, although since then he's settled into a more steady LB role, but I agree keeping on the left is usually going to be a good idea, but if it's between him at RM and playing Jones or Kljestan out of position there, I'd rather use Johnson.

In the suggested situation with Castillo playing LB and moving to Johnson midfield, if played left midfield, any of Dempsey, Gomez or Eddie Johnson could play on the right (EJ would be out position, but he already is on the left). If Shea is healthy for the next few games, he's left-footed and has experience on both sides, guys like Beasley, Pontius and Gatt I think can all play both sides as well and Donovan obviously can if he comes back.
   509. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4365367)
BTW, regarding SOT allowed, the top 5 are:
My numbers are slightly different because I add shots off woodwork to shots on target - I figure they have to be just as good, really, for projection purposes. That's as much a shot on target as is an easily saved strike to the keeper's chest. Liverpool weirdly have not had a single opposition shot hit the post or crossbar all year. But the numbers all come out pretty much the same.

   510. SuperGrover Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4365368)
I'm collecting the data week to week - because I have an exciting life and many friends - and while City are well ahead of the pack in shots on target allowed (~2.6/game), Tottenham are solidly second (~3.2/game) ahead of Liverpool at 3.6 and Everton at 3.9.


The Spurs absolutely dominated the month of December on both sides of the ball. In my ratings, they went from 7th/8th to a solid 4th, just a bit behind Liverpool. They have been playing absolutely superbly since Dembele regained full fitness.

Not that anyone here didn't know that already.
   511. SuperGrover Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4365374)
Also, QPR's recent defensive form looks like a bit of a mirage. (Or, in part, a Julio Cesar in crazy form effect). Their defense has been significantly below average in all of shots / shots on target / shots in the box / big chances allowed, even as they're been brilliant at preventing their opponents from scoring.


QPR has actually been better against better competition recently, mainly because they haven't even attempted to come out from the back on anything but a clear counter. Norwich and especially West Ham tore them up statistically, but City, Chelsea and Spurs were all kept below their season production in my metric.

It will be interesting to see how QPR play going forward. They are 6 points out of safety and I don't think they can draw themselves out of relegation. They are going to have to score somehow and that may very well lead to the backline caving and Cesar being their only hope.
   512. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:52 PM (#4365382)
Norwich and especially West Ham tore them up statistically, but City, Chelsea and Spurs were all kept below their season production in my metric.
Huh, you're right. I have the Chelsea performance particularly excellent, and in the other two as you said they kept elite opposition below expectations by 10% or so. I was just looking at rough six-week form, which also includes them getting completely shredded by Liverpool at the end of the holiday rush of games.
   513. Baldrick Posted: February 07, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4365384)
Reading still probably suck. (Sorry Baldrick.) They've had a few weeks of ridiculous shot conversion (11 G on 19 shots on target) and poor opponent chance conversion, leading to some good recent results, but I see little reason to expect that will continue.

Oh, they definitely suck. The only reason it might continue is magic. But...magic won them the Championship last year, so it could always happen again.
   514. SuperGrover Posted: February 07, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4365393)
Oh, they definitely suck. The only reason it might continue is magic. But...magic won them the Championship last year, so it could always happen again.


BTW, the answer to my lame trivia question was Reading. As Matt indicated they have scored on 11 of 19 and were well above average before that. Progrebnyak and Le Fondre have 15 goals on 27 shots on target. That's pretty amazing actually.
   515. Mattbert Posted: February 07, 2013 at 10:22 PM (#4365437)
Liverpool attack has caught up - on the season, they have actually scored more goals than would be expected based on underlying shooting and big chance numbers. They've been converting chances at an amazing rate since mid-December. Their new problem is that their G/GA numbers haven't converted into points at expected rates.

Hmmm, significantly underperforming the component numbers...where have I heard that before? Is this shaping up like it's an FSG calling card or what?
   516. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:59 AM (#4365499)
Anfield and Fenway, home of the pythagorean champions of the woooooorld.
   517. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 08, 2013 at 08:25 AM (#4365544)
   518. Mattbert Posted: February 08, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4365562)
MLS ASTON VILLA ok, ok SPURS THINK FACTORY
Well-traveled pro footballer Rohan Ricketts writes about erstwhile Spur and new Villan Simon Dawkins and the influence of Tim Sherwood, with bonus hatchet work on David Pleat!
   519. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 08, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4365569)
Dawkins is an interesting gauge to measure MLS, I think. He's been very good in MLS, but not an all star or anything. If he can step into Villa and hold his own I think that will speak well of MLS and maybe make MLS a more attractive loan destination for PL teams looking to get players game time.
   520. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 08, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4365578)
More boring stats stuff. So, I don't know if this is common knowledge, or if maybe it's not common knowledge because I did something wrong. But I hadn't read this before, and I've got 20 years of Premier League stats that fit.

The relationship between goal difference and points can be modeled with a really simple linear function. For a 38-game season, something in the range of .65(GD) + 50. I'd be interested to see if this holds true for other leagues - I did the fit off odd seasons and it worked almost equally well for even seasons. It'd be worth playing around with whether this has any particular predictive utility. I assume folks have done the work, but I couldn't find it anywhere online.
   521. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: February 08, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4365581)
MCoA, what's the layman's-terms description of that equation -- 65% of the variation in points can be explained through goal differential? I'm a bit rusty on interpretations, as I'm now a couple years removed from econometrics.
   522. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4365584)
Oh, man, you make it sound so much more impressive than it is. I'm saying that a simple linear function of (0.65 x Goal Differential) + 50 = Expected Points. The 50 (~52, actually) is just the y-intercept. I get an r-squared of about .93.
   523. Mattbert Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4365591)
The relationship between goal difference and points can be modeled with a really simple linear function. For a 38-game season, something in the range of .65(GD) + 50. I'd be interested to see if this holds true for other leagues - I did the fit off odd seasons and it worked almost equally well for even seasons. It'd be worth playing around with whether this has any particular predictive utility.

It seems like a pretty decent quick and dirty way to tell if a team is under- or over-performing without getting down to the nitty gritty of looking at the more sabery stuff like shots on target.

Using your equation and pro-rating a team's GD/game over a full season compared to their current points total pro-rated over a full season, I came up with some very coarse rankings. The number is expected end of season points by current point per game rate minus expected end of season points by current goal difference.

TOP THREE UNDERPERFORMERS
Arsenal -7.4
Liverpool -7.1
QPR -5.4

TOP THREE OVERPERFORMERS
Manchester United +15.6
Aston Villa +7.6
Norwich City +7.4

If this method does have any predictive utility in the short term, that's really bad news for Villa.

The team that this method says is most likely to end up closest to where it "should" be? Wigan (-0.3).

EDIT: If I use 52 instead of 50 as the constant, then the overperformers are less overperformy and the underperformers are more underperformy. And the team that projects to finish with as many points as it "should" is Newcastle (-0.1).
   524. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4365595)
According to this astonishingly strange BBC article--based on real math!--the top five managers in England this year are:

(1) Sir Alex
(2) Eddie Howe
(3) Malky Mackay
(4) Mancini
(5) Dave Flitcroft

I'm just going to put this out there: I don't think this list is worth much.
   525. Mattbert Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4365596)
Any list without Big Sam at or near the top surely isn't worth a tinker's damn.
   526. zack Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4365603)
It's not that surprising that final GD would predict final points. The problem is goal scoring (and goal...allowing) are somewhat flukey events, so the GD itself is going to take time to stabilize. Also is that raw GD or GD per game? Because the former will accumulate over time for the good teams.
   527. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4365604)
Big Sam is down at down at #74, only 54 spots behind Gianfranco Zola. But 17 spots ahead of Alan Pardew, in the category of recent Hammer managers. (Avram Grant, of course, is unranked and, I believe, unemployed at the moment.) Other notables:

'Arry: 92
AVB: 19
Wenger: 29
Sean O'Driscoll: 41
Sean O'Driscoll: 42*
Mark Hughes: 121 (of 122)


*Not a typo, he's listed twice for his management of different clubs. This seems profoundly stupid to me.
   528. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4365607)
So teams that have won the most points have managers that have won the most points? Thanks BBC! That was a a lot of effort to show Di Matteo was getting better results than Rafa Benitez.
   529. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4365611)
The problem is goal scoring (and goal...allowing) are somewhat flukey events, so the GD itself is going to take time to stabilize.
Right, but in theory not quite as flukey as game results.

(By the way, the only team to overperform the linear model the last ten years by any amount - you guessed it, Fergie's Man United. About three points per year more than the model expects. This doesn't appear to be a function of just being really good, since Arsenal and Liverpool have slightly underperformed in producing points, while Chelsea sits right on the regression line over the last decade.)
   530. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4365624)
So, my class got cancelled today along with my office hours and I figured that meant a free morning. One last thing, then to grading and editing. (Or, one last thing and I'll stop cluttering up this thread with charts.)

These are sort of like projected standings for the Premier League. The first is based on goal difference, with a schedule adjustment (quality of opposition and home/road). The second is based on expected goal difference, based on shots and chances, with a similar schedule adjustment.

Standings 1 (Goal Difference)
51 Manchester United
49 Manchester City
49 Chelsea
46 Arsenal
44 Liverpool
44 Tottenham
37 Everton
32 Swansea
32 Sunderland
31 Stoke City
31 Newcastle United
31 West Bromwich Albion
30 Southampton
29 Fulham
29 Norwich City
28 West Ham United
27 Reading
22 Aston Villa
22 Queens Park Rangers
20 Wigan Athletic

Standings 2 (xGD)
54 Manchester City
49 Manchester United
44 Liverpool
43 Tottenham Hotspur
42 Everton
40 Arsenal
40 Chelsea
34 Swansea City
32 West Bromwich Albion
32 Fulham
31 West Ham United
31 Southampton
31 Stoke City
31 Newcastle United
29 Norwich City
27 Aston Villa
27 Queens Park Rangers
26 Sunderland
25 Wigan Athletic
17 Reading

And to be clear, of course I understand that football is super complicated, and I haven't done enough work to figure out what level of predictive utility (if any) these numbers have. (When I looked at past seasons, even/odd gameweeks, SoT and "big chances" in even weeks were better at predicting goals scored in odd weeks than simply goals scored in even weeks, so that's a little bit of something.)
   531. ursus arctos Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4365640)
On Wednesday, the Tunisian referee who was ultimately frustrated in trying to hand the semi-final to Ghana was suspended.

Today, Pitropia's red card has been rescinded, and he will be playing for Burkina Faso in the final.

For once, the CAF has done the right thing. Nigeria remain big favorites to win, but at least Burkina Faso now have a puncher's chance.
   532. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4365649)
By the way, the only team to overperform the linear model the last ten years by any amount - you guessed it, Fergie's Man United.

Managing to the score!
   533. Baldrick Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4365650)
I prefer Standings 1!!!
   534. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: February 08, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4365727)
   535. ursus arctos Posted: February 08, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4365749)
   536. DA Baracus Posted: February 08, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4365805)
Uh oh. Bob Ley reports that games in the US were part of the massive match fixing ring, including a USMNT game, but says that the fixing did not involve the USMNT and it's unclear if the fix actually happened. He specifically said the Mexico 5 - El Salvador 0 Gold Cup 2011 game at Cowboys stadium was one. The US vs El Salvador friendly in 2010 is another. There was a 92nd minute goal by the US.
   537. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 08, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4365818)
English clubs as classic Penguin book covers.
Shooty likes that, but he's not sure how he can show it off at Kinsale's. Bad form to carry it around?
   538. SuperGrover Posted: February 08, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4365822)
Matt -

I have seen work of a similar vein elsewhere. I will have to find the link when I get to my home CPU.

RE: match fixing -

I think Americans have their head in the sand regarding fixing across the board. IMO, Tim Donaghy is just the tip of the iceberg. This isn't isolated to soccer.
   539. madvillain Posted: February 08, 2013 at 05:38 PM (#4365862)
This isn't isolated to soccer.


Don't want to derail the thread, but it's extremely hard to fix NBA games and there was never any evidence that Donaghy was anything other then a guy with a lot of gambling debt that got involved with the wrong people -- when he got scared he squawked so he could get a book deal and federal protection.
   540. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 08, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4365863)
RE: match fixing -

I think Americans have their head in the sand regarding fixing across the board. IMO, Tim Donaghy is just the tip of the iceberg. This isn't isolated to soccer.

I'd be shocked if it wasn't rampant among college sports. hose are just too easy targets for it not to be.
   541. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 08, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4365867)
Don't want to derail the thread, but it's extremely hard to fix NBA games

Final score, for sure.
Over/unders though? Call a bunch of ticky-tack fouls on both offenses. Let defenses get away with stuff. Presto.
Prop bets? Player x will foul out. There will be >x FT in the game. Incredibly easy to fix.
   542. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 08, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4365868)
Don't want to derail the thread, but it's extremely hard to fix NBA games
As mentioned above, the game themselves are not always fixed but elements of them--cards, possessions and so on--can be.
   543. SuperGrover Posted: February 08, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4365874)
What Fancy Pants Handle (fantastic, btw) said. There are also alternative lines that can be bet. And teasers. And half lines. And quarter lines. And live betting. There are so many combinations that it is impossible to mitigate IMO.

The internet has changed sports gambling forever, at least for those with the will and means to fund and collect offshore.
   544. SuperGrover Posted: February 08, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4365880)
I'd be shocked if it wasn't rampant among college sports. hose are just too easy targets for it not to be.


Me too. You think anyone is going to bat an eye if SIU-Edwardsville loses by a few too many against SE Missouri State because their best player kept jacking threes?

Hell, last season I had the opportunity to bet on Loyola Marymount - La Sierra basketball game. Who is La Sierra you ask? An NAIA program located in Riverside, CA. They went 13-17 last season. For whatever reason, they were in Loyola's December tournament and, even more inexplicably, they were given a spread. The spread was about 23 I believe and they proceeded to lose by 42.

You don't think it wouldn't have been simple as all Hell for a bookie to get a player or even the coach on the take? Few paid attention to the game and even those that did really didn't know what to expect. That game could have been fixed and no one anywhere would have known.
   545. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4365895)
Don't want to derail the thread, but it's extremely hard to fix NBA games


I dont think so. Especially with the amount of money that the players spend. It wouldn't take that much for a player to have an off night and this isn't even figuring if the refs are on the level.
   546. Swedish Chef Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4365896)
I dont think so. Especially with the amount of money that the players spend.

Which of course would make it rather expensive to buy them off, They're not going to be tempted into illegality by money that wouldn't even cover a night out with their entourage, there's a reason the gangs target poorer countries.
   547. Topher Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4365897)
Isn't the thing with gambling on the American sports that the risk/reward just doesn't make it worthwhile? I'm not saying that it can't be accomplished. Just that the individuals involved have much less incentive to consider it since they would be putting their very comfortable salaries at risk. So I'm referring to top division pro leagues. Can you get away with it? Yes. Is it worth throwing away a nice six figure salary and pension? Not so much.

And to be clear, I'm not saying it hasn't happened. I'm just not sure it would be happening with anywhere near the frequency that takes place in a Serie C2 game. And I mean less than 1%. Maybe that's me being naive.

Of course, as I was typing this I thought of aging athletes running out of big paydays that have fathered one too many kids, had one too many in the posse to support, had one too many failed business endeavor, etc. So I suppose that those guys would be the ones most likely to engage in a fix. (I'd also argue that these kind of players have unrealistic expectations in terms of a payoff -- I could see them asking for $50K+ to fix a game.) I still think that's much less likely to happen than in a league where every single participant and official doesn't make enough to avoid the temptation.

[Typed as 545 & 546 were posted ...]
   548. DA Baracus Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4365898)
As mentioned above, the game themselves are not always fixed but elements of them--cards, possessions and so on--can be.


That's spot fixing, which can be really hard to detect. This is about match fixing.
   549. J. Sosa Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4365899)
re: fixing

I've never bought the arguments that shaving at some level is not rampant in sports in America. The NBA and NFL in particular have their collective heads in the sand regarding the issue. NBA people will usually argue that the athletes make too much money to be involved.

Really? In a world where some of those guys are getting advances on paychecks and felons are reffing games? I'm not saying games are fixed (although with a league owned team vetoing trades and winning the lottery who could tell) but prop bets would be easy.

I'd say the same sort of the thing in the NFL also isn't all that hard to arrange and probably goes on.

College sports, I agree its probably widespread.

But that's enough, I've rambled too long on other sports. Don't want to derail the thread.

edit to add: Hadn't seen your comment Topher. I don't think the argument that they make too much money to risk it is a strong one. Many athletes live paycheck to paycheck. There may also be pressure from the posse for some money on their end. I have a friend at work whose cousin ran in Iverson's entourage. Some of the stories are crazy.

And to be clear, I would be very surprised to find games actually thrown in a major sports league in America. But the nonchalance towards some of the other stuff that likely goes on has always surprised me.
   550. SuperGrover Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4365907)
Matt -

Here's two links discussing using Pythagorean principles applied to the EPL. There are more out there but these were two I had saved previously.
   551. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4365975)
   552. puck Posted: February 09, 2013 at 01:35 AM (#4365980)
Excellent article on the danger of match fixing to soccer.

Is he actually saying anything or just saying "Soccer is ######\" over and over again? I found that distracting.

Were the games Europol cited cases of match fixing--that is, the outcomes, or did it also include things affecting prop bets and such, as some here were speculating?
   553. Swedish Chef Posted: February 09, 2013 at 03:53 AM (#4365995)
Were the games Europol cited cases of match fixing--that is, the outcomes, or did it also include things affecting prop bets and such, as some here were speculating?

In the Liverpool game cited, the Debrecen goalie was said to be paid to ensure that there were more than 2,5 goals in the game, at which he failed.
   554. SuperGrover Posted: February 09, 2013 at 04:55 AM (#4365998)
Is he actually saying anything or just saying "Soccer is ######\" over and over again? I found that distracting.


As did I. I found nothing of real interest there. Does he really think high level soccer is going to be impacted by fixing in Albania's second league? The American analogy would be to conclude that the BCS is dead because a D-III game ref was coerced to ensure the game went over the total. It's a fairly ridiculous stance to take.
   555. Swedish Chef Posted: February 09, 2013 at 07:17 AM (#4366004)
Simon Kuper: Why I’ve fallen out of love with football

EDIT: This has nothing to do with betting scandals...
   556. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 08:10 AM (#4366005)
Adebayor on the bench for Spurs. Be interesting to see how the squad sets up without a striker.
   557. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 08:33 AM (#4366006)
Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton, Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Holtby, Dempsey, Bale.

Holy rotation!
   558. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 08:51 AM (#4366010)
Holy Lethality, Baleman!

[edit] with a giant "Thank You" to the earthbound Nouveau Chateau defensive wall ...
   559. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4366021)
In and out between snow blowing excursions this morning, what happened tomSpurs after the first 15 minutes or so? They started very well but since everything I've seen they've looked pretty impotent.
   560. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4366025)
Forget about the goal, Freund shoving AVB out of his way so he can jump in the air was great!
   561. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4366030)
Oh good, Dembele hurt again.
   562. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4366035)
How much cash do Real have to throw in with Ronaldo to get Bale?

Naw, I kid, but that's five points in the last 3 games Bale has rescued almost single-handedly. Newcastle look solid again. I think they may make an assault on the top half by the end of the year.
   563. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4366037)
Forget about the goal, Freund shoving AVB out of his way so he can jump in the air was great!

Freund is the gif that keeps on giving.
   564. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4366038)
-Looks like Dembele just got kicked in the leg. Should be good to go for Lyon on Thursday.
-Gareth Bale has surpassed the human level at this point. Spurs do need to develop some attacking options other than waiting for him to do something amazing.
-Hugo Lloris makes a huge difference on this side. I think a case can be made for him as the best keeper in the Premier League this season. He twice bailed out the occasionally porous back line today with amazing quickness off his line.
-Dempsey's not a #9, but contrary to a bunch of Spurs fans, I think he put in a good shift today. Worked very hard pressing, held up the ball, and played a couple of very cute little passes inside the box that easily could have produced a goal.
   565. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4366040)
I think they may make an assault on the top half by the end of the year.
Agreed. The front four of Cabaye-Sissoko-Ben Arfa supporting Cisse will be really dangerous. The back line is still not great. Should be some high-scoring, exciting matches.

(And Gouffran was doing a great job on the wing, I hope he's ok. It was a weird injury that looked like nothing more than a cut or bruise, but was apparently serious.)
   566. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4366041)
-Dempsey's not a #9, but contrary to a bunch of Spurs fans, I think he put in a good shift today. Worked very hard pressing, held up the ball, and played a couple of very cute little passes inside the box that easily could have produced a goal.

A lot of Spurs look for a reason to complain about him which I find incredibly annoying. I thought he was fine today, much better than the last couple of games.
   567. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4366044)
Dempsey was noticeably good today, not the least for just going a strong 90+ after everything involved in going 90 for the USMNT in Honduras on Wednesday.

Very fun match to watch.
   568. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4366048)
Roberto Mancini is hilarious

"In football, if you work well, you can find good players without maybe spending £30m on one individual, but it is also true that every time Manchester City move for a player, if his value is £10m, Manchester City will be asked for £30m. There should be other rules for this because sometimes you want to buy a player for £8m but it's £25m-£30m for Manchester City. This is the problem."

   569. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4366051)
Good ol' "Moggy" Cattermole ... yellow within 2 and 30.

Can't tell you the number of games of FM that I've played where Cattermole sets the record for worst EPL discipline ...
   570. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4366052)
Rafa has big gonads rotating Mata as much as he does. Gotta give that to him.
   571. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4366053)
Wigan looking lively on the road at Chelsea.
   572. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4366057)
Huge game at the top of Serie A today. Napoli at Lazio at 2:45. I'm going to skip the rest of the morning games, get some work done and start a chicken stock, then come back for that one. It combines tons of CL/scudetto implications with as pure a good versus evil narrative as can be found at the highest level of Italian football.
   573. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4366062)
[572] I know next to nothing about Serie A except for the fact that I'm currently turning Napoli into the "World's Greatest Team" in FM. Who's "Pure Good" and who's "Pure Evil" in this scenario and why?
   574. Randy Jones Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4366063)
Lazio is always evil.
   575. Textbook Editor Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4366067)
In an amusing side note to today's game-watching... TE Jr. noticed the hysterics of the Spurs assistant coach's goal celebrations... And wondered aloud why he was celebrating more than AVB... and if there was something wrong with him...
   576. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4366071)
Who's "Pure Good" and who's "Pure Evil" in this scenario and why?
Lazio is evil. Their fans are racists and fascists.

Napoli are not "pure good", but they are relative underdogs against the bigger Northern clubs, there is a long history of intra-Italian bigotry of the north for the south, and as a club they play some fun football.
   577. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4366075)
SAD HIPSTER ALERT

10 man Dortmund having a rough day against Hamburglar.
   578. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4366077)
Van der Vaart should have his children taken away. That is all.
   579. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4366080)
Van der Vaart should have his children taken away. That is all.

I think that's up to the lawyers...
   580. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4366081)
I like how amazed the announcer is that a club called Sporting Kansas City exists. A stifled chuckle, for sure.
   581. ursus arctos Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4366082)
Didn't Sylvie already do that?
   582. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4366086)
Lazio is evil. Their fans are racists and fascists.
We need a third thing for that list. Could they be sadists, too? Racists and fascists and sadists is a lot more poetic. Jihadists? Probably no one would believe that. Elitists? I'm open to suggestions here, people.

I got to the gym in time to see Newcastle's equalizer and Bale's winner, both of which were very nice goals.
   583. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4366087)
We need a third thing for that list. Could they be sadists, too? Racists and fascists and sadists is a lot more poetic. Jihadists? Probably no one would believe that. Elitists? I'm open to suggestions here, people.
A valid critique. Maybe racists and fascists and thugs? You want a one-syllable word for the rhythm of it.
   584. DA Baracus Posted: February 09, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4366090)
I like how amazed the announcer is that a club called Sporting Kansas City exists. A stifled chuckle, for sure.


At least he didn't have to say "Real Salt Lake." The plan with Sporting KC was to also have a pro lacrosse team and some other teams as well, be an actual "sporting club" FWIW. I don't know if they've actually followed up on that or not.

STOKE THINK FACTORY

Another offensive explosion, they have 2 goals today.
   585. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4366097)
A valid critique. Maybe racists and fascists and thugs? You want a one-syllable word for the rhythm of it.
Racists and fascists and thugs, oh my!
   586. JuanGone..except1game Posted: February 09, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4366099)
Lazio is evil. Their fans are racists and fascists.


Can't get away without agreeing that they are the absolute worst. If Spurs fans had just decided to start punching every Lazio shirt during Europa last year, it would have been mourned by absolutely no one.

Good win from Chelsea. Azipiliucueta was an absolutely great signing. He'll be challenging for top RB in the Prem in a year. Super composed, solid challenger and wonderful crosser. Cahill and Ivanovich worry me. Torres actually played well today, but that man has just been cursed about everything except his wage bill and great hair.
   587. ursus arctos Posted: February 09, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4366104)
Lazio are traditionally the club of the monied classes in Rome (to the extent such people care about football), while Roma are the "club of the people", but racists, fascists and the haute bourgeoisie doesn't work as well.

Then again, given that it seems increasingly clear that Lazio ultras were behind the cowardly and brutal attacks on Spurs supporters at Campo dei Fiori, "thugs" works.
   588. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4366115)
Just got back from walking in the snow. What are Southampton playing at? Mancini out!
   589. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 09, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4366118)
That Gareth Barry own goal was pretty hilarious.
   590. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4366121)
The internet does not wait for anything

Barry's own goal. He slotted that home nicely.

Man City are as close to falling out of a CL spot as they are to Man U now. The Guardian MBM folk speculate they miss Nigel De Jong, but I think Balotelli's non-presence this season hurt them, too. He brought a bit of the chaotic last year that saved points in several games.
   591. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 09, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4366124)
Why does Mancini like to sub off Silva for Maicon when he's chasing a goal?
   592. Mattbert Posted: February 09, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4366144)
10 man Dortmund having a rough day against Hamburglar.

My new binky, Son Heung-Min, was a BVB slayer again today: another brace, giving him four goals in two league games against Dortmund this season.

If he's starting to think about a move this summer, as has been rumored, Tottenham should be all over that like a bad haircut on Freund. The kid is going to be extremely good very soon.
   593. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 04:01 PM (#4366151)
Utterly terrible defense by Napoli on that first goal. Nice chest control and a composed finish by Floccari, but he shouldn't have had even half the time on the ball he did. Two defenders were between Floccari and the goal, neither marked him and then they both hesitated before half-heartedly attempting to close him down.
   594. SuperGrover Posted: February 09, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4366162)
Newcastle look solid again. I think they may make an assault on the top half by the end of the year.


They can't defend for #### right now though. They are going to have to figure that out before they make a run anywhere.

I do think the transfers have saved them from a relegation battle though. They look very dangerous on the attack and should only get better when Ben Arfa returns.

Speaking of relegation, it's looking more and more like a four team battle. Southampton finally got the deserved three points and look far too solid to drop the six point lead over both Wigan and Villa. The aforementioned Francophiles seem safe and Norwich, Sunderland, Fulham and West Ham seem to have too big of lead to be caught at this point (although Fulham sucks right now). My guess is Wigan gets their #### together and makes it out of the bottom, but it's anyone's guess at this point.
   595. SuperGrover Posted: February 09, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4366163)
Rafa has big gonads rotating Mata as much as he does. Gotta give that to him.


He was sick according to the official Twitter. He did sub though so who knows?
   596. SuperGrover Posted: February 09, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4366165)
Man City are as close to falling out of a CL spot as they are to Man U now. The Guardian MBM folk speculate they miss Nigel De Jong, but I think Balotelli's non-presence this season hurt them, too. He brought a bit of the chaotic last year that saved points in several games.


I think Tevez could do the same thing, but he has seemed to have had a falling out again. He was said to be with family, but Balotelli supposedly had a virus for about a month too. I am not a big fan of Dzeko on this team as he seems to basically clog up the middle more the facilitate the fluidity of Silva and Aguero (and Tevez when he plays). He seems like a better fit elsewhere.

And yeah, the definitely miss De Jong. Cork and Schneiderlein just dominated today. Puncheon also ate Clichy alive and then performed a wiping his ass routine after his goal (nice allusion to his mid match break a few weeks back). Toure also looked absolutely spent, not surprising giving his ACN responsibilities.

Also, no idea why Garcia started at the back today. Nastasic has been solid if a bit inconsistent as of late. Still though he's better than Garcia who should have been playing in Barry's spot.

If Nasty and Tevez were truly unavailable I probably would have went with 3 in the back with Kolarov and Milner on the wings and Garcis as the deep mid. If Toure was going to play, I would have played him up front where maybe he doesn't have to work as hard. Or play Sinclair. Try something.

City are done. I think Mancini is done as well. Tevez and Dzeko are probably gone. Maybe Nasri too. Will be an interesting offseason at the Ethiad.
   597. DA Baracus Posted: February 09, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4366180)
Barry's own goal. He slotted that home nicely.


That is amazing. Reminds me of this.
   598. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 09, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4366203)
Sermanni's first game in charge of the USWNT tonight/right now. Apparently the US Soccer stream online works globally, so I'm watching a bit of it.
   599. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 09, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4366205)
Very much enjoyed Lazio-Napoli. The strike on the equalizer was kind of ridiculous. It's not like my world needs more sports, but I could definitely get into the Italian football.
   600. Mattbert Posted: February 09, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4366206)
Hugo Lloris makes a huge difference on this side. I think a case can be made for him as the best keeper in the Premier League this season. He twice bailed out the occasionally porous back line today with amazing quickness off his line.

Hugo is pretty incredible. Obviously Bale is Tottenham's seminal individual talent right now, but I think Adebayor, Dembele, Sandro, and Lloris are the four who have the most influence over whether the AVB system really works. Magnifique!

Dempsey's not a #9, but contrary to a bunch of Spurs fans, I think he put in a good shift today. Worked very hard pressing, held up the ball, and played a couple of very cute little passes inside the box that easily could have produced a goal.

He disappeared after moving to the left when Adebayor came on, but I think that's mainly...wait for it...AVB's fault! Clint was obviously gassed, and I'm not sure why Holtby was taken off instead of him. I guess AVB trusts a tired Dempsey to control the left flank better than Holtby. Dempsey hardly got involved in the attacks at all after that, I think because he knew he had very little left in the tank and didn't want to get caught upfield with no chance to recover.

If Ade's out of the doghouse now, I'd quite like to see him get some time with Holtby and Sigurdsson. Those are the guys who can really bring the sexytime.
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