Signs of Summer

The first banners for the coming World Cup have been hung here in Munich. The stadium that will host the opener on June 6 has been finished for more than a Bundesliga season; the autobahn enlargement is done; and I think even the renovations on the main subway station will be finished on time. Teutonic efficiency strikes again.

Apparently, World Cup is something of a big deal, though as an American I’m obviously predestined to be completely ignorant about all of that. In fact, I’m so ignorant that I’m not even telling my friends and colleagues here that the US team is currently fifth in the FIFA rankings. The only European teams ahead of them are the Czechs and the Dutch. Rounding out the top five are Brazil and arch-rival Mexico.

Where does Germany rank? Funny you should ask. I’m not sure, I sorta quit looking after a I got to Cameroon, Egypt and Japan. It’s that famously short American attention span. I’m sure they’re on the charts somewhere.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Europe and the world, Life and tagged , by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

20 thoughts on “Signs of Summer

  1. I wouldn’t put too much stock in FIFA rankings. The US soccer team may now very well be better than they ever were, but I strongly doubt they’ll have an easy time beating Portugal, England, Italy, Germany etc, all of whom are ranked below them.

    Do not forget that FIFA rankings are based on who the teams play against. Let the US play a few years solely against European and South American teams, then we truly see what they are worth. The same goes, naturally, for Mexico. And Egypt in 17th place? When was the last time they won a game in the World Championships? Did they ever win?

    No, I am willing to give the US team a whole lot of credit, but not based on FIFA rankings.

  2. Yeah, FIFA rankings are pretty meaningless.

    Even if the US get past the group, I think they have a 50% chance of meeting Brazil in the Round of 16.

  3. Guy,
    4th may be high for the US but the Yanks bounced vaunted Portugal in the last WC. Portugal was fresh off its Euro 2000 semi. Recently the US defeated Poland in Europe. Poland pushed England in the group stage of WC qualifing. The US is clearly top 10ish in the world albeit with a terrible track record for competitions held in Europe so Germany 06 could be downer.

    The progress shown by US football abroad is being overshadowed by the losses internationally in basketball. Once professionals were introduced “dream team” et. al. The US went on a 75-0 run only to be followed up with either no medal or bronzes and the last WBC and Olympics. That combined with a 3rd place finish in the first World Baseball championships. THESE ARE STRANGE DAYS.

  4. Here’s a flash simulator for the world cup provided by Spiegel Online. It’s in German, but scores aren’t language bound, so have fun toying around with it.

    WM Simulator

  5. It should also be noted that the German team is ranking second in Ball Street’s world cup betting stock market – I have haven’t seen the British Bookie’s quotes, but I’ll have a look –

    ball street

  6. OK, interesting, here are two odd quotes from betting websites:

    Brazil is leading by far, but England and Germany are in a tight race for the second place (which, incidentally comes close to my scenario, in which we would see ‘classic’ semi-finals between Germany and Italy, England and Brazil.

    oddchecker world cup odds world cup odds

  7. Is this a boys only post, or can women join in the football stuff as well? After all, I’m off to watch the Champions League Final tonight with the boys at my friend Roadrunner’s place. As you say, all you need to ask is who is more likely to win the tournament to find out all you need to know about the FIFA rankings. Don’t get me wrong. The US team is famously hard to beat. But to be honest there is no way they are going to set the tournament alight, or have us turning on the TV in droves to watch them…

  8. And what are they gonna do without Conor Casey anyway ;)?

    (Note to the world – Conor Casey is playing for my home side, Mainz 05, in the Bundesliga and has not been nominated for the World Cup by Bruce Arena, likely because he has not played too often lately, which was, to a significant extent, the consequence of a bad injury during last year’s Gold Cup)

  9. FIFA rankings r based upon who the teams play against.But i don’t put much stock on FIFA rankings. US team deserves whole lot of credit but not on FIFA rankings.

  10. FIFA rankings also weight their rankings by the type of games played. Friendlies count less than qualification matches for example. Germany as host nation didn’t play any qualification matches.

  11. was it neccesarry using the phrase “teutonic efficiency” in order to tell that championship preparations are going off well? we are not building any concentration camps or something…

  12. Peace, Tobias, tongue was firmly in cheek for the whole posting. I hope that came across. I looked for my old posting about the surprise that the roof was put on Olympic Stadium in Athens in time for the games to begin in 2004, but I couldn’t find it in the archives, so that was one less country to be snarky about. Alas.

    I’m sure I’ll find another silly regulation soon enough to put myths of ueber-efficiency to rest.

    And did you hear that London has gotten less rain this year than Dallas, Madrid or Rome?

  13. According to ABN AMRO, we should be barracking for Italy:

    “According to Charles Kalshoven of the ABN AMRO Economics Department: ‘The Italian economy is hampered by an inflexible labour market and deteriorating competitiveness. An Italian victory in the World Cup final would boost consumer and producer confidence, and thus lead to more spending and investment…'”

    (via PSD Blog:
    see also

  14. FIFA rankings r not meaningless as they r based upon whole lot of things. Who the team plays against and by the type of game played.
    Ya there are signs of summer as Germany rank is really getting hotter!

  15. As an American no longer living stateside, this will be the first World Cup where I didn’t need to get up at 4am and/or pay a premium to watch some live games. That’s a big relief! For the game itself, just throw on a green -n- yellow shirt… and watch Brazil!

  16. I’ll put my money on Germany. History shows home advantage is a big one in the World Cup.

  17. Really hot with the Germany’s rank! Everybody putting money on Germany.Now thats hot and signs of summer also!!!

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