Day 15 was all about momentum and position… at least it was if you’re an England fan.
Group H held interest for all England fans as one of the the two qualifiers would be the Three Lions opponents in the last 16. A vast majority of players went for either Poland or Colombia at the outset, with just one person going with Japan (Jemma Gibbons) and two with Senegal (Simon Allen & Peter Bunker).
There were plenty of points scored for this match, as only nine people didn’t predict Poland to win. A win wasn’t ever good enough to progress any further, after Poland lost their first two Group matches.
Both of the final matches in Group H ended 1-0, with this one securing the South Americans a place in the final 16 at the expense of Senegal. Senegal’s failure to progress meant there are no African teams in the knockout phase of the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Nobody scored three points for this match, with one and nil points being evenly distributed.
Is Runner-up better than Winning? That was the question facing both Belgium and England ahead of their final Group match. A Group win would throw up what appeared to be a trickier route to the final, whereas a runner-up berth would avoid Portugal, France, Argentina and Brazil until the Final!
The Group Winners selections had been split between England (15) and Belgium(20) – a decision that was fully justified after the first two Group matches had been completed for each country.
Just five SPAGames players predicted a Panama win, and for 18 minutes after Panama scored in the first half, that was a possibility, but Tunisia came out determined to overthrow that lead in the second half. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef scored the equaliser on 51 minutes, which was the 2,500th World Cup goal – keep that one ready for a pub quiz of the future! Debra Kaye, Gareth Bridges and Rico-Bradley Ellis all scored three points in this match.
If either of these two intended to aim for Runners-up they did a good job of disguising it as they both appeared to be putting at least some effort in to winning the match. As it was, a great goal by Januzaj just after half-time was enough to ensure Belgium progress into the knockout stages with their momentum in tact and a maximum nine points in Group G. England were a little disappointing, mustering just one shot on target in the whole match – they’ll need to do better in the second round against Colombia.
Just nine people picked up a single point for this match, indicating a large amount of pre-tournament confidence in England’s chances in Russia by the other 26. There was an even an optimistic 5-0 win predicted by Craig Ellis.
Round of 16
In the Round of 16 England will face Group H Winners Colombia while Belgium’s reward for winning the Group is a knockout match against Japan.
Group Match Section Winners
Congratulations should go to Chris Eastment and Jason Brown for being the first winners of money in SPAGames World Cup Predictions. They’ve shared top spot in the Group Match Section – there’s no tie-break rule. Both scored 44 points from 48 matches, that’s an average of 0.92 points per match – they’ll collect £9 each.