World Cup Final

In the various World Cups since 1966 (excluding 1982, owing to its funny 2d-round group format, which messes things up), England has failed to win the World Cup in only three different ways. EITHER by not qualifying at all for the Finals (1974, 1978, 1994). OR by going out to the eventual winners in the knock-out stages (1986: Argentina [QF], 1990: Germany [SF], 2002: Brazil [QF]). OR, more interestingly, by going out in the knock-out stages to a team that goes out in the next round, usw. (So, in 1970: England lost to West Germany [QF], who lost to Italy [SF], who lost to Brazil [F]; in 1998: England lost to Argentina [2R] who lost to Holland [QF], who lost to Brazil [SF], who lost to France [F].)

Of these three patterns, only the third is still in play. On the basis that this kind of inexorable historical logic is, well, inexorable, I therefore predict an Italian victory tonight.

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