The lessons of war

The theory that World Cup results can be predicted as replays of old wars meets its sternest test today. So far, the theory has held up well, with only one or two appeals on questions of interpretation to an adjudicating committee of historians. England have beaten Argentina, as in 1982; Japan have beaten Russia, as in 1905; Spain defeated Paraguay, as it put down the comuneros rebellion for independence in 1721; and last Saturday's England-Denmark game was a rerun of Admiral Nelson's victory at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

As for yesterday, although some Irishmen fought in Spain in the 1930s – possibly on both sides – we are expecting confirmation from someone at least as eminent as Simon Schama that civil wars do not count.

Today, however, pits the United States against Mexico. Theoretically, the game should end with the ceding of California. Just thought we would mention it.