Tuesday, December 12

Trends in World Cup Football (Soccer) Finals – Part 1

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In life sometimes we observe so many patterns and trends that it is amazing. World Cup Football (Soccer) Finals are no different. If we view World Cup history from its inception in 1930 to the tournament in 2006, there have been observable trends. When we look at the top two finishing teams in each Final there have been parallels throughout. The only real deviation from the trends came in 1994 as we shall see. But in that deviation we see a trend that had its origin in 1978.                                                                                           

How often in life we see something that has happened before happen again. This is reminiscent of one of the Bible’s quotes on patterns in life – a catchy, partially rhyming quotation I might add: 

Eccles. 1:9  “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

As the Table 1 below shows, Uruguay won the first ever World Cup Soccer Finals making full use of their home advantage. (See this link on the trends for home advantage in the World Cup Finals http://www.bukisa.com/articles/285764_world-cup-football-and-home-advantage).  Italy won twice in the next two World Cup Finals and then Uruguay won it again to round off the first twenty years of World Cup Football.

This pattern is what poets would call an A-B-B-A structure where the first line coincides with the last line and the second with the third. One could even call it a chiasmic structure. 

In 1954 West Germany defeated Hungary to take the title. (See Table 2 below). Brazil would win the next two tournaments – first in 1958 and then in 1962. In 1966 we see the first deviation from the trend. Germany did not win in 1966 but they placed second so the pattern is not broken in terms of who was in the Final.

1970 marked the first time that Italy made it to the last two spots of the World Cup Finals. (See Table 3 below). They did not win but were beaten into second place by Brazil. Holland or Netherlands are they are sometimes called, then placed second both in 1974 and in 1978. Italy then won in 1982 rounding off the trend after such victories as beating a brilliant Brazil team in the second round which then had the likes of such talent as Zico and Socrates; and beating the West German team 3-1 in the actual Final.

Now we come to a partial departure from the trend we have observed. The trend continues but not without first re-starting with the win of Argentina over Holland in 1978. (See Table 4 below). After Argentina’s win in 1978 West Germany came second in two consecutive World Cup Finals – first in 1982 and then in 1986. Argentina would then go on to place second in 1990, rounding off the A-B-B-A trend.

In 1994 Italy would be beaten into second spot by Brazil. (See Table 5 below). That year marked a rematch of the 1970 World Cup Finals which was also between Brazil and Italy. In 1998 and 2002 Brazil would make it to the final match of two consecutive World Cup Finals, placing second in 1998 and winning the trophy four years later with the help of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and others.  In 2006 we see Italy rounding off the trend, winning the World Cup trophy, a game that is memorable for both feet and heads. They succeeded in a World Cup that boasted the presence of France’s Zinedine Zidane and  Thierry Henry, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, England’s Wayne Rooney, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres, Brazil’s Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Kaka and Adriano, Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko and others.

All in all, life has its mysteries and its trends, its parallels and its contrasts. Whether it is in copping the Cup at the World Cup Finals or simply achieving one’s goals, let us go forward defending what is true, living upright lives, at the post that God has placed us. Let us be our brother’s keeper. Yes, the ball is in our court.

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