Mega Thread 2022/23 Off-Season Sports Thread

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Dockeroo

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Thoughts on expanding the 2026 WC to 48 teams?
I hate it - driven by $$$ and nothing else. Corrupt greedy pricks at fifa.
The 32 team format is a thing of beauty. Especially when the final games are played at the same time. Now we will have 3 team groups and all sorts of potential for match fixing. The two teams playing last have a major advantage in a 3 team group. If they make twelve 4 team groups, and 32 go through to knockouts there Will be a bunch of teams going through in third place which is also open to manipulation.
 

Dockeroo

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Italy didn't qualify in 2018 either...so they've missed 3 times overall, and haven't gotten out of the group stage since the time when they last won the thing back in 2006. In fact they've only won 1 game at a World Cup since 2006. In 2010 they couldn't even beat New Zealand and finished last in their group of 4.

Germany including pre-unification West Germany is way ahead of the other European sides. Since 1974 they've won 3 world cups,have been runners up x 3 and have also won the third place play-off x 3. In my time from watching since '74, England have really only been competitive a handful of times. They've missed qualification 3 times...struggled to get out of the group stage (didn't win a game in 2014) and apart from last tournament in Russia their only other top 4 performance was when they got through to the semis with a slightly controversial quarter finals win against Cameroon in 1990.

Actually can't see on what basis you would have England in the Top Tier of 5 European teams. The 5 you mentioned may have the biggest leagues with the biggest transfer fees for players it doesn't necessarily translate into good World Cup performances.

I Would have Italy way ahead of England, and France maybe on a par with Italy - but France also have had some low points like when they missed the qualification twice in 1990 and 1994 (before they won it as a host nation in 1998) and they didn't win a game in 2002 where they qualified for the World Cup under the now abandoned rule where the previous winners got automatic qualification to compete in the next tournament. Would suggest Netherlands would be a better performing European team than England and Spain too, and would have Spain ahead of England only because their World Cup win is more recent (along with their wins at the Euros) but for a long time in the 80's and 90's they were consistent disappointments who never looked like they could get to the pointy end of tournaments despite the pre-tournament hype.

You're right in saying that teams that you've ranked in the 3rd tier/4th tier of European nations can ocassionally come up with a good side for a tournament. I can rememeber Poland making it to the semi finals in 1974 and teams like Bulgaria and Turkey have done the same since - but then so have South Korea and North Korea with less qualifying chances.

A lot of the teams that I consider minnow teams of Europe have sprung up in the last 30 years since the break up of the Soviet Union/Yugoslavia/ Czechoslovakia. There were 55 teams from Europe (EUFA) that tried to qualify for this World Cup where 13 ended up getting there - 10 teams qualifying from winning their groups made up of 5 or 6 teams, and then 3 more spots are available that the next ranked 12 teams play off for.

Just to put it into context the other confederations also have difficult paths.

The federations that would have the most concentrated qualification opportunities for there region are in the Americas. The South American division (CONMEBOL) has 4 teams out of 10 that qualify plus an opportunity of a play-off place for 5th, and a when you consider a couple of those 10 teams are Bolivia and Venezuela who are seldom or never qualifiers its more like 8 teams trying to squeeze into 4.5 spots.

The North American/Central American/Carribean region (CONCACAF) had 35 teams but the bottom 30 teams (based on FIFA rankings) had to play off against each other to join the top 5 (based on FIFA ranksing) in a further qualification phase in an 8 team round-robin comp where the Top 3 go through and the 4th place goes to the run-off stage. For this tournament Canada came from outside the top 5 to finish on top of the CONCACAF division.

Africa has 5 teams qualifying out of 55. A team like Egypt with a superstar like Mo Salah can go through undefeated in the group stage until a 2 round knockout stage, then lose their only game against eventual qualifiers Senegal in penalty shootout. Nigeria has a generation of players that won 2 Under 17 World Cups in the last decade, topped their group and drew both of their knockout games against Ghana but were eliminated on the away goal rule.

Our Asian group (AFC) starts off with 46 teams and when Australia enters the group phase there's 40 teams competing. Because Qatar automatically qualified we had one less spot there were only 4 direct qualifying spots available plus the play-off position for the 3rd ranked teams in each of the two final. Given that Japan have beaten Germany and Saudi Arabia have beaten Argentina, it puts a better light on our 3rd place finish - especially considering how we had to play the majority of our home games away.

There's also the Oceania group (OFC) where the group winner New Zealand went to a play-off against the 4th place CONCACAF team Costa Rica and lost.

By dint of those past traditions the European nations have built reputations where they are regarded as world cup quality teams, but as the competition becomes less Eurocentric and teams from other confederations are given more opportunity to compete we should start to get other teams that will spring a surprise and take it all the way to semi-finals stages like some of those lower tier European teams have done.
Thanks for the detailed reply. Always enjoy these type of discussions.
You make some good points but I would say that any world cups pre 1998 are less relevant in this argument. There was only 24 team at USA 1994 and beforehand. Indeed I think there was just 16 teams at the world cups in the 70s and early 80s.
As you say the sport has grown a lot outside Europe and South America since the 1990s and I reckon the 1998 world cup, the first 32 team comp, was the one where the current structure of qualification was established. That was when you started seeing Japan, USA, Saudi Arabia, Australia (from 2006), Costa rica, teams like that becoming perennial qualifiers.
I don’t believe 13 places for UEFA in the 32 team World Cup reflects the strength of the teams trying to qualify there, compared to other federations. I think 15 or 16 would be fairer. Put it this way - if they combined Europe and Asia qualification and said ok - here’s 18 places for you guys as a whole in a combined Europe/Asia qualifiers, I don’t believe more than one or two nations would qualify from Asia?
There is no comparison to the competitiveness of the two federations.
Also CONCACAF - half of the teams there are amateur from the Carribean islands… there is a good reason that fifa don’t allow the likes of the British Virgin Islands or Antigua to get exposed to powerful professional sides like Mexico only to lose 20-0 or 25-0. Filtering them out against “stronger” minnows is a fairer way to develop them. For that reason it’s misleading to point to the number of teams in each region trying to qualify. Bayswater city would beat several of the weakest nations in the carribean islands for context.

There is usually only 2 quality teams from CONCACAF - Mexico and USA. The Canadians are starting to look like a force now with Alphonso Davies a genuine world class player. In fact, Pulisic and Davies are only 21 or 22 and both probably already the best players to ever be produced from those 2 nations combined.
If they go to 48 teams (which I don’t like) then there should be 18 or 20 from UEFA but I have little doubt fifa will give most of those slots to Africa and Asia in exacamge for votes in future elections and other backhanders. More cannon fodder then qualify for the finals in 2026, great.

Your comments on England are true if you look at history over the last 30 years. However it gives me no pleasure to say those days are over. (I hate England winning at football especially).
But they have invested hugely in youth and there is a conveyor belt of teenage talent emerging in the EPL all the time.
I think Southgate is a dinosaur Holding them back now, it’s incredible that Phil Foden can’t get a game, he’s one of the most talented players in the world under 22 in my opinion, but I still think they will make the quarters at least.



I would have Hungary in tier 3 at the moment. They have come a long way under Marco Rossi in the past couple of years and finished 2nd in their Nations League group that had Italy, Germany, and England. I may be biased since I support Hungary as well as the Socceroos, but they are definitely at the level of Greece, Wales, Ukraine, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway.

Yeah that’s fair. Haven’t seen much of them but they were good at Euro 2020. It’s good to see them rising after a long period of underachievement in the 90s and 2000s.
 

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estibador

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Windies have a white wicket keeper!

Don't think I've ever seen a white guy playing for the Windies before, it looks strange.
 

Wobbly Punt

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Unfortunately men's cricket in Australia is on the nose owing to a number of unsavoury acts over the past few years. Needs a strong administration, coaching panel and would probably benefit from an injection of new blood on the field in the near future.

Dating back to the Shane Watson era this has been a very unlikable outfit. Nothing has changed from then unitl now really.

I don't subscribe to WA fans not going to cricket because of Langer. I'm here in WA and I couldn't stand Langer so his sacking didn't bother me. I know he is revered here and I get why but I thought he was a very disingenuous and insincere character. The timing of his recent podcast spray was true to type in my estimations and not surprising at all, to me anyway.

After hearing Marto, Voges, Hussey talk about him a bit I disliked him even back to his playing days. The way he ingratiated himself to the main players of a team and treated new guys like crap as a senior player at both Shield and Test level bothered me about him.

Outside the Langer thing, there's just so many unlikable characters in Aussie cricket teams now. In the Test team Warner, Smith, Labs and Lyon all come across to me as pretty average guys to be frank. Cummins annoys some and although I don't mind him myself I can see why some wouldn't.

The short game is even worse when you add Stoinis, Maxwell and Marsh who all carry on like all time greats of the game based on 1 decent performance every 2 years or so.

When you add the ongoing mystifying selections of "experienced guys" like all those above over the Cam Green's and others of the world and I find it really difficult to get behind them at all.

The Langer sacking doesn't play in to it at all for me so I just can't see that being the big factor in the lack of support. Maybe I'm wrong though.
 

estibador

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Dating back to the Shane Watson era this has been a very unlikable outfit. Nothing has changed from then unitl now really.

I look back fondly at the team when I was a kid (Marsh, Boon, Waugh twins, Border, Alderman, McDermott, etc) compared to now. But then I wonder if I'm just getting old and jaded and if I was a kid these days I'd be just as enamoured with the current team?

Tbh I don't think I've really liked an Aussie team all that much since the dominant turn-of the century team (Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh twins, Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne, etc). Geez, just writing out those names make me appreciate how stacked we were for talent back then.
 

Outshined

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Windies have a white wicket keeper!

Don't think I've ever seen a white guy playing for the Windies before, it looks strange.

Trip down memory lane but the last (and only) I can remember is Brendan Nash.

Toured here in the late 00s I think? Definitely not a household name!
 

Wobbly Punt

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I look back fondly at the team when I was a kid (Marsh, Boon, Waugh twins, Border, Alderman, McDermott, etc) compared to now. But then I wonder if I'm just getting old and jaded and if I was a kid these days I'd be just as enamoured with the current team?

Tbh I don't think I've really liked an Aussie team all that much since the dominant turn-of the century team (Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh twins, Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne, etc). Geez, just writing out those names make me appreciate how stacked we were for talent back then.
I'm the same but go back even further. I loved that Aussie team that had 7 WA guys in it. Testing memory here but I think it was;
Laird
Wood
Hughes
Marsh
Lillee
Yardley
Alderman

Loved those days, never missed a ball unless it was because I was playing a game myself. So many other fun names from that period up to and including the unbeatables.

Far fewer now. I think Green will be great to follow. I really like Head, Carey and Hazelwood too. Starc and Cummins to a lesser extent. Coming through there are some interesting types too. Some very good WA kids by the looks too which is great. The cycle will turn again I'm sure.
 

Joao

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Windies have a white wicket keeper!

Don't think I've ever seen a white guy playing for the Windies before, it looks strange.

Trip down memory lane but the last (and only) I can remember is Brendan Nash.

Toured here in the late 00s I think? Definitely not a household name!

Yep, Nash was Australian who qualified for West Indies despite only living their for like a year. Was bizarre. Shows how weak the WI were in that period (circa 2008/9 I reckon).

I look back fondly at the team when I was a kid (Marsh, Boon, Waugh twins, Border, Alderman, McDermott, etc) compared to now. But then I wonder if I'm just getting old and jaded and if I was a kid these days I'd be just as enamoured with the current team?

Tbh I don't think I've really liked an Aussie team all that much since the dominant turn-of the century team (Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh twins, Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne, etc). Geez, just writing out those names make me appreciate how stacked we were for talent back then.

McDemott was a campaigner to me, wouldn't sign something for me on the boundary. Pidge did though, what a champ.

I don't know how likable the 1995-2007 players were, but **** me they could play the game. I want Freo to be the AFL equivalent for a decade.

There were probably 10 blokes who played 0 - 30 tests that might have played 100 if born 10-15 years later. Insane period of cricket for Australia.
 

Tony_Clifton

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Loving this old timer talk. I remember going to the WACA back in the 90s for shield games with my Dad. Would play tennis ball cricket with the other boys and occasionally have to run onto the field to fetch the tennis ball.

We were trying to get an autograph off Mike Whitney once. Started giving him s**t because he was refusing. He told us to ask him politely and to call him Mr Whitney. So we did and he said no. Used to think he was a campaigner but that's some pretty good trolling.
 

Wobbly Punt

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Loving this old timer talk. I remember going to the WACA back in the 90s for shield games with my Dad. Would play tennis ball cricket with the other boys and occasionally have to run onto the field to fetch the tennis ball.

We were trying to get an autograph off Mike Whitney once. Started giving him s**t because he was refusing. He told us to ask him politely and to call him Mr Whitney. So we did and he said no. Used to think he was a campaigner but that's some pretty good trolling.
Whitney was an awesome dick. I copped the “Mr Whitney” thing too. Brilliant stuff. He did sign my hat though. Maybe we shared a match or 2 back then TC.? 😄

I got a bit quieter on the boundary after Rodney Hogg poked me in the chest one day and said to shut the **** up or he’d bash my Dad. If I knew then what I know now I’d have let him do it. 🤣

Eldine Baptiste was great fun for us kids too when he toured with that killer Windies team. Back in the days when the WACA got so full they’d let kids over the boundary to sit on the ground behind the rope. He was an excellent stirrer. I gave him a childish sledge about not being that good and he said “I’ll get better when you get more handsome”. Funny to a 12yr old anyway.
 

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Wobbly Punt

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Hogg and Baptiste? Showing your age there Wobbly Punt
No point hiding it Joao. These are well earned k’s on my clock. 🤣

I can do better actually. I was at the WACA when Dougie Walters got his 100 in a session against the Poms!

Apparently the 6 he hit off the last ball to get the 100 came directly at us although landing well short.

I’m told I was anyway. I have no memory and I remain upset my old man didn’t get Dougie to sign my nappy as proof.
 

Kram

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I remember a crowd at an ODI at the WACA almost getting into Bevan for not signing any autographs.

Oh yeah and same game a cameraman turning around and swearing at a small child for maybe bumping him a couple of times. Yeah bad kids not being controlled by crap parents is a thing for sure and he's trying to do his job but this seemed minor and his reaction way OTT.
 

estibador

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Yeah that was amazing. It's unbelievable how far above expectations we have performed at this world cup. The team looked as cool as anything considering what was at stake in that second half. Very, very impressive performance.
 

Kram

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Wow they did it even with Tunisia scoring and needing to win.
 

Dockeroo

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I was in the middle of fed square last night and I swear the ground shook when Leckie scored! What a great goal too.
I’m not sure how they won that game either but * it was fun last night!
 

im_a_lazy_sod

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Finished equal top and only finished second due to goal difference ;)

Another clean sheet is a huge achievement for the team. Denmark got in to some great spaces and it was a combination of solid defending and them lacking some final polish in the final third that really helped us hold on to the win

And let's be honest, we had some amazing counters that could have ended up with another goal or two, so all things considered, probably a fair result. We played to win and it paid off - especially with France B stinking it up (If only they'd conceded another few goals, eh?)
 
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Amazing that the Socceroos have reached the knockouts!

Hand on heart, before the playoffs against UAE and Peru, I gave them no chance to even reach the tournament. Making the Round of 16 seemed fanciful. Yet here we are.

I’m totally surprised by the quality of our goals this tournament. They have each been a good blend of team play, individual skill and physicality.

Here’s hoping for a few more in the remainder of the tournament!
 

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This Test match just looks like batting practice and average padding for the Aussies.
Yeah it's pretty boring, and I say that as a diehard cricket nuffy. Windies bowled well without reward for a session then have been dogshit since then.
 

Kram

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Yeah that was amazing. It's unbelievable how far above expectations we have performed at this world cup. The team looked as cool as anything considering what was at stake in that second half. Very, very impressive performance.
What kind of odds would we have been paying to make it through the group before the tournament, like 40 to 1?
 

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