Last week, we told you the U.S. had a 1.2 percent chance of winning the World Cup. The odds of that dream have dropped by half since then, without the U.S. playing a match: Underdogs like the U.S. have come oh so close before without winning a match in the knockout stage.Argentina vs. Switzerland, 12 p.m. EDTU.S. vs. Belgium, 4 p.m. EDTIn briefSee our World Cup predictions for the latest probabilities.In depthHeading into Tuesday, the last day of the Round of 16, six group leaders have played six group runners-up in the knockout stage. Nearly every match has been close-fought and competitive. Brazil and Costa Rica needed penalty kicks to advance. Germany went to added extra time. The Dutch needed to come from behind in the final minutes. And France was locked in a scoreless battle until the final 20 minutes.Yet in every case, the group leaders won.That’s bad news for the U.S. and Switzerland, the two remaining group runners-up, for two reasons: First, if they do manage to upset Belgium and Argentina, respectively, difficult opponents await. In their half of the draw is the Netherlands, sixth in the world in ESPN’s Soccer Power Index ratings. If they somehow reach the final, one of the world’s top five teams awaits.The second reason is that by winning, all the soccer powers have demonstrated they’re even better than previously thought, making it even less likely that a solid but not elite team such as the U.S. could upset them.Add to that a tweak to our model late last week, to account for the advantage favorites have in added extra time and penalty kicks, and the U.S. team’s chances of winning the Cup have dropped to 0.6 percent, from 1.2 percent after last week’s match against Germany. Switzerland’s chances have dropped to 0.7 percent from 0.9 percent after its previous match.Winning the Cup was always a long shot for these two teams, though. Reaching the quarters would be a good result for either one. And the U.S. has the better chance. It gets Belgium, the second weakest of the eight group winners, in the late match Tuesday. The U.S. has a 41 percent chance of winning. That’s nearly double Switzerland’s 23 percent chance of upsetting Lionel Messi and Argentina.Drawing Belgium in the Round of 16 was the U.S.’s reward for making it out of one of the toughest groups. Belgium advanced to the World Cup out of one of the weakest European qualifying groups, then won the weakest World Cup group. It remains a formidable opponent and is better than the U.S., with high-priced talent on its roster, much of it familiar to English Premier League fans. But Belgium is a tier or three beneath tournament favorite Brazil. After nearly beating Portugal and nearly equalizing late against Germany, the U.S. shouldn’t fear another European opponent.Switzerland, meanwhile, will attempt to earn what would be only Europe’s third win in 10 tries against South American opponents at this World Cup. The Swiss have one of the two wins so far, over Ecuador. (The Netherlands has the other, over Chile.) Ecuador is a far cry from Argentina, though. Messi has scored on four of his seven shots on target, all with his left foot. Switzerland might need Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored a hat trick against Honduras, to live up to his stretch of a nickname, “Alpine Messi,” to have a chance.YesterdayTwo Union of European Football Associations powers stamped tickets to the quarterfinals Monday thanks to substitutes. France beat Nigeria behind the influence of Antoine Griezmann, whereas it took an André Schürrle goal to finally open the scoring in Germany’s lively 2-1 extra-time win against Algeria.Olivier Giroud started at forward for France, but the French game really started when Griezmann replaced him in the 63rd minute. Giroud had 14 attacking-third touches and didn’t create a chance during a lackluster 62 minutes, but Griezmann provided the necessary spark. He had 12 attacking-third touches in 28 minutes, including a great scoring chance with a 1-2 ball to Karim Benzema in the 70th minute. In total, the French created six chances in the first 62 minutes and five over the final 28, converting two for goals.Griezmann was the difference, though he did not officially figure in either goal. His best “shot” was an 84th-minute close-range strike that required a reaction save from Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Enyeama left the tournament with a competition-best 21 saves over Nigeria’s four matches. Although it wasn’t a shot, Griezmann’s near-post run in the first minute of stoppage time produced a goal officially credited as a Joseph Yobo own goal.The Germans, meanwhile, did not lack for attacking possession throughout Monday’s match, posting a 246-90 advantage on touches in the attacking third. In the first 90 minutes, Germany completed almost four times as many passes into the attacking third as the Algerians (125-32), but it couldn’t convert a massive advantage in chances created (18-5) into a regulation winner.Two minutes into extra time, Schürrle put the Germans ahead. He actually hit the ball on his near-post run (as opposed to Griezmann), and Schürrle was credited for the goal. But the result was the same in both cases.Mesut Özil scored later in the extra time, and that proved to be the eventual game-winner, though Algeria scored before the final whistle. Abdelmoumene Djabou’s left-footed finish was the latest goal in World Cup history, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Germans from facing France on July 4. — John Parolin, senior stats analyst, ESPNOff the pitchArgentina and Switzerland cooperate in a number of ways — investment protection, aviation, legal protection — but perhaps the most important aspect of their relationship is trade. According to data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Swiss exports to Argentina have increased significantly in recent years, from $187 million in 2005 to $1.06 billion in 2012, which is most likely because of an increase in bilateral trade agreements. A majority of those exports were health-related products and chemicals, at 62 percent. Watches made up 7 percent of the exports, chocolate comprised .22 percent, and milk and cheese was just .05 percent. Trade in the opposite direction has increased over time as well, but not to the same degree. Argentine exports to Switzerland totaled $121 million in 2005 and $627 million in 2012. Gold dominated at 79 percent, followed by wine, trucks/vans and bovine meat. — Hayley MunguiaFurther readingLionel Messi Is ImpossibleHas the U.S. Men’s National Team Plateaued?Stoppage Time Is Often Home-Cooked, Especially in the MLSThe Rise of the Red Devils
Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Monday as the team prepared for Sunday’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.Richardson, the third overall pick out of Alabama in April’s NFL Draft, has been sidelined since Aug. 9, when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.Wearing a protective rubber sleeve over the knee, he looked smooth running drills during the 15-minute viewing portion of Monday’s practice and didn’t show any signs of limping, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.“If he’s ready to go, he will be our starter,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Trent looked good. He was in team. I knew he’d be out here today and he did a good job. It was his first day back in practice, so we did what we could do. Trent looked healthy running around.”Richardson is expected to play in the season opener, although his workload likely will be limited until his knee has added time to heal.Cleveland drafted him with the expectation that his impressive blend of speed and power running would provide an instant lift to a Browns offense lacking in playmakers.Richardson signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract last month that was fully guaranteed and included a signing bonus of $13.3 million.Anticipation about his presence in the backfield became even greater with the designation of quarterback Brandon Weeden as the team’s starter. The Browns desperately want a running game to alleviate some of the pressure from Weeden.Richardson underwent what the team termed “routine arthroscopic” surgery by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Aug. 9. Andrews had performed a similar procedure on Richardson on Feb. 3 to repair a torn meniscus the running back suffered in the same knee while playing for Alabama during its BCS national championship victory over LSU.Richardson rushed for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
The conference report for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill offers a mixed bag for military families, trimming the basic allowance for housing (BAH) over the next four years while attempting to preserve discounts at commissaries.The compromise legislation adopts DOD’s proposal to slow the rate of increase in the BAH until rates cover only 95 percent of service members’ out-of-pocket costs, but eases the reduction into place by 1 percent increments over the next four years. Last year, leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached a compromise allowing the housing benefit to cover only 99 percent of rental and utility costs.Conferees rejected language in the Senate version of the legislation limiting the BAH for service members who live together or married couples who work within a reasonable commuting distance from each other. But the House and Senate Armed Services committees intend to address the issue next year after seeing the results of a study of ways to adjust the allowance for dual-service couples and others so it better matches actual housing costs.In rebuffing the department’s proposal to slash $1.3 billion in federal funding for military grocery stories, the annual defense policy bill attempts to preserve military families’ shopping benefit. The measure, though, provides the Defense Commissary Agency with new authorities to test innovative ways to operate stores more efficiently, reports Stars and Stripes. A new study aims to protect the shopping benefit while identifying ways to make commissary and exchange operations self-supporting by 2019.The authorization bill also offers an alternative to the traditional retirement plan requiring personnel to serve for 20 years. The new ‘blended’ plan will feature a Thrift Savings Plan with government matching of contributions up to 4 percent of base pay, according to the story. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
Bringing together the hospitality fraternity, a breakfast session with Masterchef Australia host George was organised in the Capital recently. This early morning session, organised by Fine Food India, brought the who’s who from the hospitality business, chefs and restaurateurs to talk about food. George Calombaris made up for the absence of his co-host Gary Mehigan and said: ‘Gary is totally Bollywood. He would have loved to be here had he felt better.’ Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Goerge said what is special about Masterchef Australia is that it has roped in cuisines from across the world. There was a whole round of questions the restaurateurs and the public asked George. On being asked about his status as a celebrity chef, he said: ‘I deny the concept of the celebrity chef. I am a chef, that’s it.’For the young food enthusiasts who had gathered there who dreamt of becoming chefs in future, George said, ‘It is very important to engage oneself in cooking and also know where the raw material comes from. The farms ideally and not the supermarkets.’ Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix‘I buy only my toilet papers from the supermarket,’ quipped the chef.About Indian food he said Gary knew more than him. ‘He could actually tell you when and where the food originated and how was it used and all that.’ As for himself, the chef admitted that he couldn’t help wonder about the Indian food especially jalebis which are fermented lactose. ‘It is amazing to see such diverse food culture wherever we go,’ said the 34-year-old chef.When asked whether it is more important to have technical skills or creative ones, he said that it is a mix of both. ‘There are a lot of chefs with so much technical skills and then there are those who does it differently. So we need both these.’‘There is also Nigella, who absolutely makes anything out of the leftovers. This is also something different,’ he added. The event was concluded with an elaborate breakfast spread.
Milan: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court judgement upholding its validity but restricting it to disbursement of social benefits, saying it vindicates her stand. “People should have some rights. If bank and mobile phones are linked to Aadhaar card then everything about the person will come into public domain. That this logic is correct and irrefutable has been proved today,” Banerjee told the media here. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “We don’t compromise or raise questions on government security or internal security. But if my account number becomes public, I may be cheated. This has already happened in ATM transactions,” said Banerjee, who is visiting Italy in a bid to rope in investment for her state. Similarly, if the mobile phone number is linked to Aadhaar, “then the messages you send, or the calls you make, all information gets leaked”. Calling the verdict a victory of the people, she said she has neither linked her bank account nor her mobile number to Aadhaar and have also asked people not to do so. In a majority judgment, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra held that Aadhaar would be voluntary and not mandatory with an option to exit.