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History says Confederations Cup third-place match could produce goals

Jun 29, 2013, 8:40 AM EDT

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Third-place matches are a bit like having the cake and ice cream office party for the departing worker at 3 in the afternoon. It’s a “party” in the technical sense – hence the cake and ice cream, or perhaps some of those delicious high-end cupcakes that were de riguer for so long, but it falls well-short of a full-fledged, rip-snortin’ good time kinda thing.

So we have the third-place Confederations Cup match to contemplate, Italy vs. Uruguay.

No, I don’t expect people to bust out the seven-layer dip and gather the neighbors for Sunday’s contest. But do know this about third-place matches in these FIFA competitions:

They do tend to produce goals. So we have that, at least.

The last four third place matches in the Confederations Cup (2005 and 2009) or the World Cup (2006 and 2010) have combined to average 5.25 goals.

It’s really not so hard to understand. The pressure is off, so teams discover a lesser regard for caution. They can play a little more loosey-goosey.

It wasn’t exactly that way four years ago at the Confeds Cup in South Africa, although a drab match did turn exciting near the end as Spain and the hosts combined for five goals.

Four years prior, Germany prevailed over Mexico in a 4-3 extra time thriller.

Germany also scored liberally in a 3-2 third-place win over Uruguay in Port Elizabeth at World Cup 2010. And Germany was also third-place proceeding in 2006, downing Portugal 3-1.

By the way, if you know a guy who knows a guy, or if you just want to bet a six pack with your neighbor, I’ve always noticed that third-place matches tend to be about “give a care.” That is, look for the team that probably cares about finishing third (usually the lesser accomplished nation) over the team certainly disappointed not to be in the final.

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