The USWNT Is On To The Next Challenge — With An Eye

TeamThenNowDiff.ThenNowDiff.ThenNowDiff. Japan5638-183226-663-3 China3257+251017+7110 How the odds have changedOdds of advancing in the Women’s World Cup before the tournament started and after the group stage Norway3534-11313021-1 Italy14%43%+293%10%+70%0%0 France8077-35440-142019-1 Cameroon316+1314+3000 England6584+194150+9109-2 Spain3922-17147-6220 Germany7291+193552+171115+4 Nigeria129-332-1000 Australia6566+13133+275-2 Make QuartersMake SemifinalsWin World Cup Below the top three, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. England won all of its group-stage matches but is scoring less than xG suggests it should be. And it will have to contend with a Cameroon side that advanced to the knockout stages in dramatic fashion on Thursday thanks to a stoppage time goal from forward Ajara Nchout. The Netherlands won all of its group-stage matches and is the current European champion, but the Dutch are scoring more goals than xG suggest they should be and will have to beat a Japanese team that has underperformed so far.Australia’s World Cup has been a bit of a mixed bag, but the Matildas boast one of the best players in the world in Kerr. Canada has Christine Sinclair — who’s just two goals shy of tying Abby Wambach’s all-time international goal-scoring record — but it has to beat a very strong Sweden side next. All of this indicates that this tournament has already lived up to its billing as the most competitive in Women’s World Cup history, and we expect more of the same going forward.Still, the marquee potential matchup remains the U.S. vs. France next Friday. If both teams do what’s expected of them in the round of 16, the eventual World Cup champion might be decided by a quarterfinal at the Parc des Princes in Paris next week.Check out our latest Women’s World Cup predictions. USA7178+7464601824+6 Netherlands4762+152847+1979+2 Canada4359+152529+467+1 Brazil5323-29227-1642-2 Sweden5141-102217-443-1 The U.S. women’s national team faced its most difficult test at this World Cup so far in its match Thursday against Sweden, and it wasn’t much of a test at all. The 2-0 scoreline doesn’t reflect it, but the Americans dominated the Swedes from the first whistle to the last. They possessed the ball 61 percent of the match and created 13 scoring chances.1According to data from Opta Sports. Sweden, on the other hand, created just four chances and rarely looked threatening otherwise.Judging the U.S. women’s probability of winning the World Cup after their first two matches was tricky. They obliterated newcomers Thailand 13-0 and then handily swept Chile to the side 3-0, but neither opponent was expected to advance beyond the group stage, let alone make a run. The Americans were always favored to win those matches with ease. But Sweden entered the tournament with a chance — albeit a small one — of winning the whole thing, and the team has been a thorn in the USWNT’s side in the past.Blowouts in the first two matches didn’t say much about what the USWNT is capable of against top competition (although Norway, which won the World Cup in 1995, proved that blowout wins in the group stage can be a good omen). But the assertive performance against Sweden proved that the USWNT is ready for all comers.2Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson rested some starters, notably defender Nilla Fischer.Having finished atop Group F, the Americans will play Group B second-place finishers Spain in the round of 16. The FiveThirtyEight model gives the Spanish a 22 percent chance of beating the Americans and advancing to the quarterfinals. Spain’s defense has been stingy — it has conceded just two goals in three group-stage matches — but the team has struggled to find the back of the net. The Spanish are scoring just one goal per 90 minutes — 1.2 goals fewer than their expected goals (xG) tally suggests they should be scoring.The upside for the Spanish: They are creating chances. The downside: They’ll be going up against an American side that hasn’t given up a goal and has conceded exactly zero big chances in their first three matches, according to data from Opta Sports. If Spain hopes to pull off the upset of the tournament, Jennifer Hermoso will have to capitalize on whatever chances she gets. The forward scored twice in the group stage, but her mark of 0.67 goals per 90 minutes is below what xG suggests she should have. If Hermoso can’t cash in, the Americans will probably advance to the quarterfinals.The USWNT’s likely opponent in the quarterfinals is host nation France. Les Bleues won all three of their group-stage matches — although one of those wins came as the result of a *cough* controversial VAR decision *cough* that gave star defender Wendie Renard two shots at scoring from the penalty spot against Nigeria — and the FiveThirtyEight model gives them a 77 percent chance of beating Brazil in the round of 16.But France might have preferred an opponent that didn’t include Marta. At 33, the Seleção legend is decidedly past her prime. But she’s the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of the World Cup — men’s or women’s — for a reason, and she’s still capable of inspiring awe. And Magic Marta isn’t alone: Brazil forward Cristiane Roziera has four goals at this World Cup, which places her one behind Australia’s Sam Kerr and the U.S.’s Alex Morgan in the race for the Golden Boot. If Cristiane draws level with — or overtakes — Kerr and Morgan, the quarterfinal match everyone is anticipating might not even happen. That said, Brazil has to be the least happy of any team with its draw. According to our model, its odds of making the quarters dropped by 29 percentage points, the most of any team remaining.The Americans and the French might be the two most likely teams to win the tournament, but that doesn’t mean anyone should sleep on Germany. The Germans won all of their group-stage matches with relative ease and, along with the Americans, conceded the third-fewest shots on goal per 90 minutes. Not coincidentally, the Germans, like the Americans, didn’t concede a goal in the group stage. Our model gives them a 91 percent chance of beating Nigeria to advance to the quarterfinals and the third-best chance of winning the tournament.Indeed, the group stage didn’t end up telling us a whole lot that we didn’t know entering the World Cup. The top of our model looks a lot like it did before the tournament began. On June 7, it gave France the best chances of winning, the U.S. the second-best and Germany the third-best. France and the U.S. have since flip-flopped — the U.S. chances to win jumped from 18 percent to 24 percent, while the French chances to win fell to 19 percent from 20 percent. Germany’s chances to win jumped from 11 percent to 15 percent, but its chances to advance to the quarterfinals jumped by an astounding 19 percentage points to 91 percent. read more

No city of joy for refugees

first_imgTo realise his aspiration of becoming a pure “Kalkatta-wallah”, the protagonist of this tale of a fervent, pervading desire for belonging and acceptance is advised to follow four key rules – believe that you know everything, accept rumours are more important than facts, make a grand gesture every now and then and most importantly, have a low enough ambition to be envious of those with higher ones. But can he follow them without irrevocably losing his identity and moorings and will he survive the transition? Also Read – World War I’s forgotten violent aftermath and toxic legacyThis is the premise of acclaimed story-teller Kunal Basu’s latest work – a searing, visceral narrative of the life and aspirations of the under-privileged outsiders in a metropolis and how their success is only a thin line away from disgrace or worse!Jamshed Alam or Jami, who with his parents and polio-affected sister exchanged one limbo – a refugee camp for Bihari Muslims in Dhaka optimistically called “Geneva” – for one marginally better, a chaotically, colourful Kolkata tenement thanks to an uncle who is a ruling Communist Party leader in the city and his zari factory-running mother, has one fixed dream – becoming a pukka Kalkatta-wallah. Also Read – Enid Blyton’s adventures get even more mouth-wateringWith his childhood entanglement with a local gang leading to an unceremonious early exit from school, he becomes an assistant to a passport agent, who is also engaged in some dodgy work. A chance encounter with a lonely, high-society woman during the understaffed Durga Puja holidays at the travel agency where he is working seems to open the door to a world of luxury and privilege and more so after she introduces him to a friend who runs a massage saloon with “other benefits” and he takes to this work with gusto.  A world of the rich and famous – and the kinkily dangerous – is now accessible but also heightened is the danger from jealous rivals, police, and most from the world he grew up in.After he meets again and befriends a former co-worker – a single mother with a sick boy, Jami’s various worlds – family, neighbourhood and the gang, massage and other ‘services’ clients, and the world of culture he sought to become part of and succeeded to some extent though at a personal cost – collide after the old familiar things change in 2011, the cat-and-mouse games of terror and security rear their head, and he is at the marked risk of losing all that is dear to him and has painstakingly worked for, and even his very existence. Playing key roles in his chaotic journey are a multitude of well-drawn characters – his ulcer-suffering father, his hard-working but determined mother, his clear-thinking but sarcastic sister Miriam, Uncle Mushtak, the Communist party fixer (who is later dethroned), Jahanara, the local temptress, Rakib, the near psychotic gang-leader, Rajesh Sharma, the travel agent whose apprentice he becomes, Ani Mitra, his first Bengali friend and fount of wisdom for the city, Mrs Goswami who changes his life, Rani, the hijra who manages the massage parlour, and Mandira and Pablo, who not only make an empathetic human but also ultimately endanger him.Basu’s narrative is not a very comforting – in fact, is most unsettling – account of aspirations of migrants to become an anonymous part of a big metropolis where they land up in the hope of sustenance and once managing to climb out of the flotsam and eke out a basic livelihood, not matter how deprived and how filled with small and big acts of treachery towards loved ones and others, to dream to achieve some part of the opulently plush lifestyle they see around them and help to facilitate for the better-off.A key plot is also the basic absurdity of subcontinent’s affairs – farcial had it not been tragic – that runs through the principal protagonist’s origins. His family fled their ancestral home to a nearby part of a new country where they could be safe and prosper, but soon found themselves unwanted and under a new threat when this itself became a new country, and were forced to seek refuge again in the very country they originally fled from – and in a city which is anything but a City of Joy for them.It is a picture of Kolkata at its most unsympathetic and unwelcoming – and from a viewpoint most should thank for being spared – but still necessary viewing. Don’t shirk it! IANSlast_img read more