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Based on Thirteen Different Factors
History, demographics, world economy, and tendencies have had an effect on each team‟s preparation towards the greatest football event worldwide. Football Analysis Society 06/10/2010 Daniel Cadena Jordan Victor M. Sosa
Part I Which thirteen factors have a say on what might happen during this World Cup?
By Daniel Cadena Jordan
Despite being completely unpredictable, certain aspects tend to influence in one way or another, the outcome of most processes. Sports, specifically football, are no exception. Football is often classified as the world‟s most popular game, and for a good reason: it is played on every continent of this planet, regardless of age, gender, creed, race, or social status. Few things are as universal to mankind as this simple eleven-on-eleven game. Part of the game‟s success, is based on two main qualities it possesses: 1- The amount of rules and the complexity of them make the game appealing right from the start. Few sports are so elemental it results inevitable to feel attracted towards it. Besides the offside rule, a concept hard to grasp by many, football‟s premise is essentially easy. The game consists of two teams with the same number of players, who kick a ball back and forth without the use of hands, until one side is able to score in their rival‟s goal. 2- The requirements to play football are numbingly accessible. All that is needed is some open space, a ball or a ball-shaped object, and something that can be called a goal. Compared to other sports, such as hockey, American football, basketball, baseball, cricket, rugby, polo, swimming, etc., association football needs essential material: people, a place, and a round object that can be kicked around. So, given the fact that football has been played for over one and a half century, it has been able to spread everywhere. Of course, not every place is the same. Some have ice and snow to deal with, others sand and a burning sun. Part of the greatness of the game lies in how people have found a way to play it, despite whatever might be a possible obstacle to the practice of the sport. This is where statistics come in. Since every region of the world is considerably different than another one, context begins to play a fundamental role in how the sport must be studied. We assembled thirteen different factors which can attempt to answer one sole question, whilst still keeping in mind how each scenario can affect the outcome: Who may win the World Cup this year? The list of variables is as follows: Historical Outcome GDP per head Last four years‟ performance The coach‟s record with the squad Players‟ average height
Players‟ market value Average position in previous World Cup appearances World Cup 2006‟s performance Head-to-head results between the 32 qualified teams Each country‟s population Each league‟s quality Last ten games played Difficulty of the team‟s qualifying region
All these factors can be put into four major categories: performance, history, economy and demography. The reason why each one of these four categories plays a part in this study is because it does determine one way or another, how football can be played, and how are the people that play football in one specific region. A thorough study over these four groups can further clear any doubt of their partaking in this analysis:
Beyond the obvious reason, which is how well has one country in particular performed throughout time, history enables the understanding of how the sport has evolved inside each country. Even neighboring countries have completely different evolution cycles. In football, the value history adds to the equation, is giving a proper answer to the „exposure and experience‟ issue. If a person has to compete with bigger and better rivals in any discipline, his chances of becoming just as good as his stronger counterparts are higher than those of who play against easier to beat rivals. To make it simpler: the better your rivals are, the better the quality of game you‟ll end up playing. A perfect demonstration of this is the British Isles in the early 1900s. While the sport was still being practiced on an amateur level in continental Europe, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish had been playing each other time and time again for the past 30 years. Of course, when they decided to play against the continents finest, the outcome was scandalously favorable for the British and Irish. Whopping 7:0 victories were common, and a sense of unmistakable superiority began to arise among the islanders. Just after World War I, things had started to change, and the 7:0‟s were no more. They were still British wins, but with a more discrete score. Nowadays, in the 21 st century, the two main powerhouses in Europe are Germany and Italy. So, in order to study how a team might perform, it is important to consider how it has performed under similar circumstances. Since the World Cup has always had more or less the same format, many of the same issues continue to affect players: the great number of games in such short time, hence the fatigue, morale problems, lack of concentration, etc. Curiously, one can conclude that certain countries have always been better than the rest in handling these issues. Proof of this is that in all the eighteen finals played so far, at least one of these four countries has been present: Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina. It is important to not see history as mere results, but more as the experience and knowledge on how to handle certain situations. A common problem in „smaller‟ squads is precisely the lack of understanding on how to deal with the tournament‟s excruciating pace (Spain is considered by most to be the best representation of this). It‟s not enough to have good players, it‟s also important to know how to pace their performances. A 5:0 win in the first round will do no good, if it means sacrificing energy. The factors we‟ve chosen to expose to represent history‟s influence are: Historical Outcome, with a 13% worth. Average position in World Cups, with a 12% worth. Head-to-head with tournament rivals, with 10%‟s worth. The coach‟s history with the team with a 5% worth.
Despite being the group of subjects that weigh the least in this study, demographic information is key to the sport, because it allows a profound analysis on the environment in which the sport is being played. It reflects patterns that are equal throughout the country and shows the habits of some of the players. A player‟s height can reveal the eating patterns of players, if believed that someone‟s height is determined by the calorie intake of a person. So, if a person eats three good meals a day, he is stronger, taller and more capable of practicing a sport properly. In group sports, physical strength and stamina is important in order to succeed. And in order to be able to develop fully in an activity of great energy requirements, a considerable amount of calories must be taken in daily. In African countries or other countries where the amount of food available is scarce, one can notice a difficulty to gain muscle and physical strength from early on. European players are on average about four centimeters (inch and a half) taller than African players, despite them playing for European teams, living in European countries and eating European meals. What differences them is their eating background. Usually raised in a very poor family, African children have a more limited amount of food. Another important issue is how many people live in a certain country. The amount of inhabitants allows a bigger pool of talents from which to pick from. The more people live in a country, the higher the number of people who practice a sport. This translates into more potential talent. Stated this, the two demographic factors that will me taken into consideration are: Population, with a 5% value. Average Height, with a 2% value.
It can be the most underestimated of all groups. The influence of economic values reflects, theoretically, the ability and quality of both players and teams. Any team wouldn‟t be willing to pay 50 million Euros for most players, despite being willing to pay them for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance. That proves that value does play an important symbolic role in the overall equation of quality in teams. Regarding teams, the market value of players reflects how professional and qualified the team as a whole is. The only real problem with these values is the possibility of the overpricing of certain players. A country that suffers this is Spain. Their overall market value almost doubles the second best team‟s value. Despite this, it is the only real assessment that can translate player quality into numbers. Another important addition from economics is the Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant. This reflects the average income of every citizen in any given country, which is a way of knowing how much money a person can invest in food, sports and education. Although not definitive, the availability of the right amount of food, recreation and education, does predispose certain people above others. This translates into a simple formula: the more accessible money is the higher the calorie intake, the better the knowledge, and the better the training conditions. Economic factors should not be seen as simply a figure. They‟re an accurate representation of resources available to the development of players and teams alike. They do not determine which country is more likely to produce superstars, but they do reveal which countries count with the proper conditions for the growing of talent. The two economic variables are: Gross Domestic Product per inhabitant, with a 5% value. Market Value, with 5% value in the overall study.
Form and Recent Performance
Of all the four groups, this one has the last word on how well countries will do in the overall study. It simply measures how have teams performed in different categories, all which respond directly to the results obtained in the latest games. The need for different measurements is to effectively view the different issues which could alter, one way or another, a team‟s performance. Naturally, the main figure in this group is the performance in the last ten games. It studies a specific segment of the recent past, and the one chronologically closest to the World Cup. In those ten games, one can see how well a team has played with virtually the same players, against a selected number of rivals, and usually with the same coach. The performance in the 2006 World Cup is also taken into consideration, because it shows in a wider picture, how has this generation of players been performing recently in the same tournament under question. To understand how different teams function in such a demanding environment is key to see whether or not they possess the know-how in managing themselves during this World Cup. The World Cup performance is complemented with the four years‟ performance of all qualified countries. All official games played after the 2006 World Cup in Germany are tabulated and kept track of. In these, a more detailed study of latest form reveals exactly how has each squad dealt with changes within, as well as different types of matches, such as regional cups, qualifying games and friendly games. Not all squads are as good, and not all confederations are as tough as others. This plays an important role in making a difference between one team‟s performance and another. It is not as worthy to win ten matches against central-Asian countries, which tend to rank among the 70‟s, 80‟s, 90‟s and 100‟s in the FIFA World Ranking, as to win ten matches against South American squads, which rank twice as higher. Finally, the last factor to have a say in this study, is the quality of each country‟s domestic league. It reflects the quality of football in every country. The influence of foreign players in the world‟s biggest leagues leaves a mark on their fellow teammates. It increases the quality of competition, therefore the quality of the national players. The value of each variable: Last ten games: 18% 2006 World Cup performance: 5% Four Years‟ Performance: 10% Region Difficulty: 5%
League Quality: 5%
The Study’s Results
As mentioned at the beginning of this document, the purpose of this study isn‟t to predict a World Cup winner. It is merely to suggest how all 32 teams ought to perform, based on thirteen different premises. The relevance of these factors may coincide with the end result of this year‟s World Cup, however it is not a guide to how the tournament will play out.
History: Historical Outcome:
Country Germany Brazil Italy Argentina England France Spain Mexico Serbia/Yugoslavia Uruguay Netherlands Switzerland Chile Paraguay USA South Korea Portugal Denmark Cameroon Nigeria Australia Japan North Korea Algeria South Africa Ghana Honduras Cote d'Ivoire New Zealand Greece Slovenia Slovakia Historical Outcome 4,1600 4,0300 3,9000 3,7700 3,6400 3,5100 3,3800 3,2500 3,1200 2,9900 2,8600 2,7300 2,6000 2,4700 2,3400 2,2100 2,0800 1,9500 1,8200 1,6900 1,5600 1,4300 1,3000 1,1700 1,0400 0,9100 0,7800 0,6500 0,5200 0,3900 0,2600 0,1300
Average Position in World Cups
Country Germany Brazil Italy England Argentina North Korea Netherlands France Denmark Spain Serbia/Yugoslavia Uruguay Switzerland Portugal Chile Mexico Ghana Paraguay Australia Nigeria USA Cameroon Honduras South Korea Algeria Cote d'Ivoire South Africa Japan New Zealand Greece Slovenia Slovakia Avg pos. WC's 3,8400 3,7200 3,6000 3,4800 3,3600 3,2400 3,1200 3,0000 2,8800 2,7600 2,6400 2,5200 2,4000 2,2800 2,1600 2,0400 1,9200 1,8000 1,6800 1,5600 1,4400 1,3200 1,2000 1,0800 0,9600 0,8400 0,7200 0,6000 0,4800 0,3600 0,2400 0,1200 In
Head-to-Head with Tournament Rivals
Hist. Head to Head with Country crosses Brazil 3,2000 Italy 3,1000 England 3,0000 Argentina 2,9000 Netherlands 2,8000 Germany 2,7000 Spain 2,6000 France 2,5000 Mexico 2,4000 South Korea 2,3000 Serbia/Yugoslavia 2,2000 Australia 2,1000 Denmark 2,1000 Portugal 2,1000 USA 1,9000 Paraguay 1,9000 Switzerland 1,9000 Uruguay 1,6000 Ghana 1,4000 Slovakia 1,3000 Cote d'Ivoire 1,3000 Honduras 1,3000 Nigeria 1,0000 Japan 0,9000 Algeria 0,8000 Slovenia 0,8000 North Korea 0,6000 Cameroon 0,5000 New Zealand 0,5000 Chile 0,3000 South Africa 0,2000 Greece 0,1000
Coach’s History with current Team
Country Spain England Brazil Netherlands Germany Mexico Argentina Ghana Nigeria Australia Italy France South Korea USA Portugal Cote d'Ivoire Denmark Honduras Serbia Chile Greece Uruguay Japan South Africa Switzerland Cameroon Algeria Slovakia North Korea Paraguay New Zealand Slovenia Coach Record 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2000 1,1500 1,1000 1,0500 1,0000 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500 0,7000 0,6500 0,6000 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,1500 0,1000 0,0500
Country USA Brazil Nigeria Japan Mexico Germany France England Italy South Korea South Africa Spain Argentina Algeria North Korea Ghana Australia Cote d'Ivoire Cameroon Chile Netherlands Greece Portugal Serbia Switzerland Honduras Paraguay Denmark Slovakia New Zealand Uruguay Slovenia Population 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2000 1,1500 1,1000 1,0500 1,0000 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500 0,7000 0,6500 0,6000 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,1500 0,1000 0,0500
Country Serbia Greece Slovenia Germany New Zealand Nigeria Denmark Slovakia Switzerland England Australia Cameroon Brazil France South Korea Algeria Italy Uruguay Argentina USA Ghana Netherlands Cote d'Ivoire Portugal Spain Paraguay South Africa Japan North Korea Honduras Mexico Chile Avg Height 0,6400 0,6200 0,6200 0,6200 0,6200 0,5400 0,5400 0,5400 0,5400 0,4600 0,4600 0,4600 0,4600 0,3800 0,3800 0,3800 0,3800 0,3000 0,3000 0,3000 0,3000 0,3000 0,3000 0,3000 0,2800 0,1400 0,1200 0,1200 0,1200 0,1200 0,0400 0,0200
Economy Gross Domestic Product (per capita)
Country USA Switzerland Netherlands Australia Denmark England Germany France Japan Greece Spain Italy South Korea Slovenia New Zealand Portugal Slovakia Argentina Chile Mexico Uruguay Serbia Brazil South Africa Algeria Paraguay Honduras Nigeria Cameroon Cote d'Ivoire Ghana North Korea GDP head 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2000 1,1500 1,1000 1,0500 1,0000 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500 0,7000 0,6500 0,6000 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,1500 0,1000 0,0500 per
Country’s Average Market Value
Country Spain England France Brazil Argentina Italy Germany Portugal Netherlands Serbia Cote d'Ivoire Uruguay Cameroon Switzerland Nigeria Mexico Ghana Chile Denmark Slovakia Japan Paraguay USA Algeria Australia South Korea Slovenia Honduras South Africa New Zealand Greece North Korea Market value 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2000 1,1500 1,1000 1,0500 1,0000 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7000 0,6500 0,6000 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,1500 0,1000 0,0750 0,0500
Form and Recent Performance Last Ten Games
Country Netherlands Argentina Spain England Chile Uruguay Mexico Italy Serbia Brazil Slovakia USA Germany South Korea Switzerland Cote d'Ivoire Paraguay France Australia Portugal Ghana Nigeria South Africa Algeria Slovenia Denmark Cameroon Greece New Zealand Japan Honduras North Korea Last games 5,7600 5,5800 5,4000 5,2200 5,0400 4,8600 4,6800 4,5000 4,3200 4,1400 3,9600 3,7800 3,6000 3,4200 3,2400 3,0600 2,8800 2,7000 2,5200 2,3400 2,1600 1,9800 1,8000 1,6200 1,4400 1,2600 1,0800 0,9000 0,7200 0,5400 0,3600 0,1800 10
2006 World Cup Performance
Country Italy France Germany Portugal Brazil Argentina England Spain Switzerland Netherlands Ghana Mexico Australia South Korea Paraguay Cote d'Ivoire USA Japan Serbia/ SerbiaMontenegro South Africa Uruguay Nigeria Greece Algeria Slovenia Cameroon Denmark New Zealand Slovakia North Korea Chile Honduras WC 2006 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2000 1,1500 1,1000 1,0500 1,0000 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500
0,7000 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500 0,6500
Four Years’ Performance
Country Spain Brazil Germany Netherlands England Mexico Japan Nigeria Argentina Portugal Serbia Honduras Chile USA Cameroon France Cote d'Ivoire Australia Italy South Korea Denmark Ghana Greece Uruguay Algeria Switzerland South Africa Slovakia North Korea New Zealand Paraguay Slovenia 4 year performance 3,2000 3,1000 3,0000 2,9000 2,8000 2,7000 2,6000 2,5000 2,4000 2,3000 2,2000 2,1000 2,0000 1,9000 1,8000 1,7000 1,6000 1,5000 1,4000 1,3000 1,2000 1,1000 1,0000 0,9000 0,8000 0,7000 0,6000 0,5000 0,4000 0,3000 0,3000 0,2000
Country Netherlands Spain England Germany Italy Nigeria Serbia Slovakia Cameroon Denmark Cote d'Ivoire Switzerland France Portugal Greece Slovenia Brazil Japan Ghana Paraguay Chile USA Algeria Australia South Korea Argentina Mexico New Zealand Uruguay Honduras North Korea South Africa Region difficulty 1,6000 1,6000 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,3000 1,2000 1,1500 1,1500 1,1500 1,0000 1,0000 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500 0,7000 0,6500 0,6500 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,2000 0,1000 0,0500
Domestic League Quality
Country England Spain Germany Brazil Italy France Argentina Netherlands Mexico Portugal Greece Paraguay Chile Uruguay Denmark Japan Switzerland Nigeria South Korea Serbia Slovakia USA Algeria South Africa Honduras Slovenia Cote d'Ivoire Cameroon Australia Ghana New Zealand North Korea League Quality 1,6000 1,5500 1,5000 1,4500 1,4000 1,3500 1,3000 1,2500 1,2100 1,2000 1,1500 1,0500 1,0500 0,9500 0,9000 0,8500 0,8000 0,7500 0,7000 0,6500 0,6000 0,5500 0,5000 0,4500 0,4000 0,3500 0,3000 0,2500 0,2000 0,2000 0,1000 0,1000
Overall Results Ranked Results not considering World Cup’s crosses
Country England Spain Germany Brazil Italy France Argentina Netherlands Mexico Portugal Greece Paraguay Chile Uruguay Denmark Japan Switzerland Nigeria South Korea Serbia Slovakia USA Algeria South Africa Honduras Slovenia Cote d'Ivoire Cameroon Australia Ghana New Zealand North Korea OVERALL 28,7000 27,3700 27,7200 27,3000 25,9800 22,7900 25,7600 26,4900 21,9200 18,5500 8,4450 13,3900 17,1700 17,2700 15,7300 12,2400 17,9600 15,8700 16,1900 20,6200 10,9500 18,1600 9,4300 7,7800 8,7100 6,7100 12,9000 11,3300 15,2200 12,7900 5,3900 7,8900
Ranked Results considering World Cup’s crosses
Country England Germany Spain Brazil Netherlands Argentina Italy France Portugal Serbia USA South Korea Mexico Paraguay Switzerland Denmark Slovakia Chile Uruguay Cote d'Ivoire Australia Nigeria Japan Cameroon Algeria Slovenia South Africa Greece Ghana New Zealand Honduras North Korea OVERALL 28,7000 27,7200 27,3700 27,3000 26,4900 25,7600 25,9800 22,7900 18,5500 20,6200 18,1600 16,1900 21,9200 13,3900 17,9600 15,7300 10,9500 17,1700 17,2700 12,9000 15,2200 15,8700 12,2400 11,3300 9,4300 6,7100 7,7800 8,4450 12,7900 5,3900 8,7100 7,8900
Conclusions Africa’s Dilemma
Not a single African squad made it past the first round, and the factors to blame are mainly the historical ones. However, in a seemingly irrelevant factor like GDP, each African nation lags a point behind from all European teams, and even some Asian and American teams. It may not seem like much, but this point if nonexistent, would allow all African countries to gain a couple of positions in the overall ranking. However, there is another issue at hand regarding the low quality performance of African teams: the groups. The continent‟s strongest –Cote d‟Ivoire and Ghana- were seeded in very even groups. One must face Portugal and mighty Brazil, while the latter one must measure up against the mysterious ways of Australia, the might of Serbia and the everlasting talent of Germany. Africa‟s biggest hopes have been crossed with the two strongest teams of all (historically speaking). The remaining African teams weren‟t blessed by this World Cup‟s draw, either. The hosts seem to have lost any possibilities in being considered favorites in their group, since they play a two-times-winning Uruguay, a former champion France and Mexico, who have taken part in over a dozen of these tournaments. Nigeria does have a chance, but they must overcome South Korea, Greece and also two time winning Argentina, who happen to be among the favorites to win the cup. Algeria was paired up against England –who seem stronger than ever, and according to the study, have a pretty good chance of winning this year-, the United States, who have proven to have what it takes to make it far into the tournament, and Slovenia, one of the responsible squads for the absentees Poland and Czech Republic. The remaining country, Cameroon, have been firing emergency signals ever since the last African Cup, when their early departure from the continent‟s greatest cup came as unexpected and prompted a complete study of the squad‟s situation. To make matters worse for them, they were paired up against the best team the Netherlands has been able to field since 1978, a very confident and stark Denmark and Asian‟s giant, Japan.
The difference the crosses make
Some were blessed, other cursed by their groups and their route to the final. Although the final top five didn‟t vary because of the way teams were paired up, they were the exception rather than the rule. Mexico was among the ten best teams, even making an appearance in quarter finals. Thanks to the way fate, luck and their numbers worked out, they would meet Argentina in the final sixteen and make an early, shocking exit. Uruguay was another victim, but a much more tragic one. Thanks to their crossings, they don‟t even manage to survive the group phase, despite being a shoo-in among the final sixteen. Then, there‟s the other side of this tale. The teams that do manage to find their crosses as favorable. Paraguay would survive round one merely thanks to their rivals. South Korea would gain four extra places, although in both scenarios they would exit in the first playoff round. Other teams that gain places, but don‟t manage to make it through to the next round are Slovakia, who gain eight spots and Slovenia who gain five.
Are there any surprises at all?
Yes, but not as many as one could expect. For instance, to most it may be shocking that Mexico and Serbia belong on the top ten list. However, they rank ninth and tenth respectively, which means they shouldn‟t surpass the final sixteen round. So if any of them could finish in the top eight, that would be a huge surprise, specifically Serbia. Since they would meet (theoretically) England, chances are slim in a quarter-final appearance by the former Yugoslavs. Mexico has one great advantage: they can actually fight and claim the first place of their group, which ought to lead to a game against a much more accessible rival than England, such as Nigeria, Greece or South Korea. Another surprise could come from teams like Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Paraguay, and Chile, which all could shock the second best team of their group. The Danes qualified with honors, after sending Portugal to the knock-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sweden into the dumpster. Slovakia and Slovenia proved capable of much, once they sent Poland and the Czech Republic into exile way ahead of the final group fixture. Chile and Paraguay did their share of damage in CONMEBOL, by giving Argentina and Brazil a scare. They came in second and third in the overall qualification. Another candidate for a big buzz is Uruguay. Without being an upfront favorite to take over group A, they have proven to have what it takes to neutralize their rivals. The only real upset coming from an African country could be an early exit from Portugal, delivered by Cote d‟Ivoire.
France has had a very tough preparation for this World Cup. Beat by Serbia in their qualifying group, they were sent to find a ticket against Ireland. Even so if they did find their place in the final 32, it was from a handball delivered by Thierry Henry. Their latest results, including a 0:1 against China, as well as of-the-pitch problems –like the underage prostitute sex scandal that involved three national players; or the problems between William Gallas and Patrice Evra over the captaincy of the team; or even how much trouble everybody seems to have with Yoann Gourcuff- have seem to lead the team astray. For a team like France to not be considered favorite in a group with Uruguay, South Africa and Mexico, speaks of how low the game quality in les bleus is. Italy, the defending champions have also had a slow start to this World Cup. To considered one of the main teams to win the cup has demoralized somewhat the Just as important as Brazil or Germany, Italy‟s glorious past will not be enough to fallen spirits of a battered team. They have a group that is easy to deal with, but soon as that part is handled, real threats will start to arise. not be squad. lift the just as
Spain reaching semifinals should be written somewhere above, in the surprises, since they are a country with no tradition of making it that far. Only once have they been in the final four, and that was back in 1950. This year‟s expectations of them have added extra pressure on a team that usually would settle to make it into the final eight. The lack of a background in semifinals and what fans wait from them could cross and create the perfect disaster. If they fail to make it to that sixth game, all hope on Spain winning the title will be
eternally lost. They have their best team in history; they just won the European Championship two years ago. If not now, then never.
Who really poses a threat?
Four words: Argentina, England, Germany and Netherlands. Of all 32 teams, these four excelled in virtually all thirteen variables. As the numbers have shown, these four teams are really the strongest candidates to take the title, along with Brazil, of course. They all have the know-how, the tradition in the tournament; they‟ve all experienced at least one final; these teams truly have it all. Young, talented players, combined with coaches who have managed to sculpt these boys into the world‟s finest. And, to make matters worse, they all have their particular motivation and a reason to win this cup: England knows it has been too long. Argentina want to reclaim they membership to the final four realm. Germany needs to win in order to keep their flame alive, and the Netherlands have a vendetta on history. They‟re out to win what has eluded them for so long. This extra spark could give them the fuel needed to feel each game more than their rivals, and to show the world what they have been working on for the past four years.
Part II of the Study
Brazil and Spain seem destined to meet at the end
Spain will have to show that the past doesn’t matter and Brazil will have to overcome the pressure of being everyone’s favorite. By Victor Sosa Spain, the most successful team since the last World Cup and Brazil, the most successful team since, well, ever, seem to be the star-crossed protagonists of the upcoming World Cup. Not only do these teams have the lowest payouts in Sin City, but Goldman Sachs (the recently-made famous investment services firm) places these two teams as first (Brazil) and second (Spain) in a probability model put together by some of the best risk analysts and traders in the bank. Not surprisingly, after a long day‟s work of crunching numbers and analyzing facts and probabilities, I get the same exact result (see Group Stage Odds Table and Final Round Odds Table at the end of this paper). If that indeed is the final, the actual probability of a win by Brazil is 32.95%, Spain 29.54% and a 37.52% chance of a Draw. Very tight. However, to get here, these teams had to knock out a whole lot of talent. The Semi Final puts Capello‟s frightening England against Brazil, and Messi‟s Argentina against Spain. No matter what the probabilities say, it‟s a safe bet to say that anything can happen from this point on. Nevertheless, consider the facts: England has not beaten Brazil in 16 years (4 Draws and 2 Defeats), and the last four times Argentina saw Spain in a match, the Spaniards have gotten the best of them 3 times. This is not to say history always has to repeat itself, but facts are facts. Argentina made it to Semi Finals by narrowly having a bigger win percentage than their rival Germany (Argentina Win 36.28%, Germany Win 35.51%, and Draw 28.20). In reality, this game is way too close to call, but in order to move along with the model the assumption that the most likely event will happen was made. Italy and Spain and Netherlands and Brazil, other quarter-final matches, were not nearly as tight, the winner having an average 10% spread over its rival (which in this case indicated Head to Head dominance by the winner). To end the quarter finals, England easily beat Nigeria. In the Round of 16, the generally dominant teams were also dominant in head to head matches, resulting in easy wins except for the Spain vs. Portugal and Italy vs. Denmark matches. Even though the first match results in Spain as a winner (Spain Win 41.85%, Portugal Win 31.17, and Draw 26.98) the probabilities are much closer than in the other second round matches. Another surprisingly close match is Italy vs. Denmark. The model depicts Italy drawing with Denmark in the second round, something that, in principle, has to seem odd considering the Italians are the defending champions. Let‟s see if Azurra is up for this challenge. The proposed model also shows Nigeria beating France in the Round of 16, helped by their head to head record against the them, and being the only African team through to the eight most prestigious. Being this the first World Cup in Africa and all the
sentiment and inspiration that this entails for African teams, the model may leave out some African countries that might be posed to show us an exceptional performance in the upcoming cup. For the most part, in the first round there aren‟t any HUGE surprises (but models based on historic facts or any other for that matter, rarely show these). France and Mexico go through (yes, South Africa appears to be out), Argentina and Nigeria, England and their previous colony (yes, USA), Germany and Serbia, Netherlands and Denmark, Italy and revelation team Slovakia, Brazil and Portugal and Spain and Switzerland all go through. It appears to be that this will be the only World Cup in which the host does not go through to the next round. Probability of Winning World Cup Team Brazil Germany England Spain Netherlands France Argentina Italy Portugal Serbia Mexico Denmark Ghana Nigeria Uruguay USA Japan Ivory Coast Slovakia South Korea Cameroon Algeria Paraguay Australia Greece Chile Honduras Probability 13.44 9.52 8.55 7.88 7.42 6.60 6.51 4.95 3.55 2.61 2.57 2.43 2.28 2.20 2.17 2.04 2.03 1.94 1.56 1.52 1.24 1.15 1.12 1.05 0.75 0.72 0.68 Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Slovenia 0.54 28 South Africa may go down in history as the only host South Africa 0.45 29 that did not go through to the second round of the Switzerland 0.43 30 World Cup. Some people have pointed out that New Zealand 0.06 31 being the host, they HAVE to go through. In fact if North Korea 0.01 32 you base your analysis purely on history, you may have a point. Nonetheless, a more detailed analysis may lead you to a different conclusion. Let‟s compare the South African situation with South Korea‟s “equally difficult” situation in the 2002 to edition since this is the example most people give when pleading for the South African pass to the next round. South Korea‟s group in the 2002 edition ranked in the 20 th position according to FIFA, South Africa‟s group ranks 11th on average, a noteworthy if not very significant difference. Another point, South Africa itself ranks 72 (61 positions above the group average), South Korea ranked 22 (very close to the group average). In other words, FIFA‟s ranking better hope South Africa doesn‟t make it to the second round, or its reputation, to me at least, is in stake once again. My calculations then took to me to calculate the probability that any of these 32 teams have of actually winning the World Cup (see Probability of Winning World Cup Table). Keep in mind that these calculations do not consider the matches that these teams have to go through in order to win the World Cup, but instead consider the historic performance of these teams in previous World Cups, Las Vegas betting odds, performance in previous games, and other similar statistics. This explains why Germany, which is second in this rank, does not even make to the Semi Finals (since they meet their nemesis Argentina in Quarter Finals, which narrowly beat them by probabilities). Argentina, on the other hand, appears 7 th in this ranking, reflecting the poor performance of this team in the most recent editions of the World Cup and the little faith people seem to have in Maradona‟s game plan. It‟s worth noting that even if Germany does beat Argentina to go through to the Semi Finals, they will have to go up against Spain, the team that beat them in the last Euro Cup Final. In the last 6 games these teams have played, Spain has won twice (we all remember Torres‟s goal), and lost only once (in a friendly match August, 16th 2000). This also explains why France a team with a 6.60% chance of winning the World Cup is knocked out by Nigeria a team with a meager 2.20% chance of accomplishing the feat. The last time these teams met Nigeria has come out with the better end, increasing its chances of beating France. On the other hand, Netherlands, who joins Spain as the only team that has won its previous 10 matches, will have to go up against history and a tough quarterfinals match against Brazil, a team they haven‟t beaten in the last 16 years (0-4-2). It‟s also worth saying that his model is only good for working out probabilities, not actual events. Surprise is something that cannot be forecasted. The best that can be said is that, taking into accounts the variables that I have taken, the most probable event is this or that. For instance: the team that will most likely win the World Cup is Brazil, with a whopping
13.44% chance; however this also means that Brazil has a 86.56% of NOT winning the cup. Now those are tough odds. Next, a brief description of the methodology used is in the model and in the shown probability table is presented. Methodology Probabilities Model The model proposed is a three-tiered model in which three different sets of variables are considered: “Rank variables”, which can only produce results measured by Rank, “Probability variables”, which produce results that are measured in probabilities, and “Head to Head variables”, which include past results between opposing teams. The first stage of the model considers the Probability variables, which include: Overall World Cup Performance, Performance in Last Four World Cups, Performance through Last Four Years, Qualifying Matches, and Performance through Last Ten Games. Variable WC PERF LAST 4 WC PERF 4 YEAR PERF QUAL MATCHES LAST 10 GAMES Weight 0.20 0.25 0.25 0.10 0.20
The probabilities of winning, drawing, losing, and average goals for and against are calculated for each team using the weight factors shown. The resulting probabilities are averaged out for each game with the Head to Head variable (head to head results in the last 16 years) to obtain a final probability spread for the game in question. The Head to Head variable weighs 30% and the Probability Variables as a whole weigh 70%. Modifying this final probabilities are the Rank Variables, which are a set of variables that are meant to describe the condition that each team enters with to the competition. They also include a component that depicts the general sentiment toward the teams (Odds in Las Vegas betting and a Goldman Sachs probability model). These variables are shown in the following table with their respective weight in the final rank: WEIGHING FACTOR FACTOR
GDP PER CAPITA AVG HEIGHT MKT VALUE WC RANK 2006 FIFA RANK COACH RECORD ODDS GOLDMAN MODEL
0.06 0.04 0.24 0.15 0.12 0.07 0.19 0.13
The aggregated result is meant to affect the final probabilities calculated in the first two tiers of the model (Probability variables and the Head to Head variable), sometimes significantly shifting the outcome of each game. The model, in its entirety, calculates the odds of winning, drawing or loosing considering the weight-appropriate variables mentioned. However, games in which the probability of Team A winning and Team B winning in a match were close, the model opted for a tie result. After the application of the model, the teams that follow through to the next round were obtained. The same methodology was applied for the rest of the games until the winner was chosen. These results are shown at the end of this paper. If some of these resulting probabilities seem a bit weird (you are not alone), keep in mind that Head to Head matches between the facing teams could indeed change things a lot. Probability of Winning World Cup Table The probabilities and rank shown above are a weighted average of historic performance in world cups (“Probability Variables”) and some of the “Rank variables” (mainly Betting Odds) discussed in the model. These are then recalculated as to show probabilities of winning the whole tournament. Facts about 2010 South Africa World Cup and the Model Only No-Win Teams: Cameroon, Greece, Ghana, New Zealand, and North Korea. Serbia and Chile are the highest and lowest teams of the World Cup in height. Spain is the team with the most valued players in the market. North Korea, the market non-believer, has ironically, the lowest market value.
Since it has become a kind of conventional wisdom in the soccer circle (that poor countries don‟t generally do much in World Cups, except for Brazil), it‟s worth mentioning that the richest per capita team is Switzerland and the poorest is Ghana. Del Bosque (Spain), Capello (England), Domenech (France), and Dunga (Brazil) enter the World Cup as the best coaches around. If you were willing to bet 1,000 $ that Honduras reached Semifinals, and they did you would win 1,000,000 $. That‟s how unlikely it is. Brazil and Germany have both been to 7 World Cup finals. Brazil has won 5 times; Germany only three. Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina are the only four teams who have won more than half of the games they‟ve played in a World Cup. They also happen to be the only four teams who have scored more than 100 goals (Brazil 201, Germany 190, Italy 122, and Argentina 113) in World Cups. France might enter this last distinguished group if they manage to score 5 goals or more in the South African World Cup. England and Uruguay have never lost a World Cup Final. Germany has never lost in penalty shoot-outs in a World Cup (4-0). England has never won (0-3) Pele is the only player to have won 3 World Cups. Maradona only won once. Goldman Sachs, Elo Ratings, Betting Odds in Vegas, FIFA rankings, and, more importantly, my Model, all present Brazil and Spain as the most prepared teams, and the likeliest final. South Africa has conceded nine goals in their three international encounters against Mexico. Mexico has won their opening matches at the last three World Cups.
“Some people think football is a matter of life and death.
It is much more important than that.” Bill Shankly Group Stage Odds A-D Group A 1 A South Africa B Mexico
WA % 32.25
WB % 45.24
2 17 18 33 34 Group B 3 4 19 20 35 36 Group C 5 6 22 23 37 38 Group D 7 8 21 24
Uruguay South Africa France Mexico France A Argentina South Korea Greece Argentina Nigeria Greece A England Algeria Slovenia England Slovenia USA A Germany Serbia Germany Ghana
France Uruguay Mexico Uruguay South Africa B Nigeria Greece Nigeria South Korea South Korea Argentina B USA Slovenia USA Algeria England Algeria B Australia Ghana Serbia Australia
23.80 21.14 68.55 37.82 59.76 WA % 50.48 50.60 37.47 53.63 43.96 10.26 WA % 67.14 48.00 39.29 64.79 27.31 45.30 WA % 54.64 59.88 47.70 34.07
45.71 42.14 15.25 28.44 26.05 D% 20.89 15.34 11.08 15.56 17.98 10.83 D% 12.24 9.81 13.56 9.69 8.40 12.85 D% 13.96 11.93 25.98 18.33
30.49 36.72 16.19 33.74 14.19 WB % 28.63 34.05 51.45 30.81 38.06 78.90 WB % 20.62 42.19 47.15 25.53 64.29 41.85 WB % 31.39 28.19 26.32 47.59
Draw Draw France Draw France Result Argentina South Korea Nigeria Argentina Draw Argentina Result England Draw USA England England Draw Result Germany Serbia Germany Australia
Group Stage Odds E-H Group E 9 10 25 26 43 44 Group F 11 12 27 28 41 42 Group G 13 14 29 30 45 A Netherlands Japan Netherlands Cameroon Denmark Cameroon A Italy New Zealand Slovakia Italy Slovakia Paraguay A Ivory Coast Brazil Brazil Portugal Portugal B Denmark Cameroon Japan Denmark Japan Netherlands B Paraguay Slovakia Paraguay New Zealand Italy New Zealand B Portugal North Korea Ivory Coast North Korea Brazil WA % 43.86 49.79 79.86 31.18 44.58 21.20 WA % 59.21 33.25 44.69 62.12 14.61 52.11 WA % 36.06 67.92 56.39 57.17 38.71 D% 22.75 23.53 8.68 28.82 20.45 30.73 D% 19.01 9.52 19.51 8.92 13.11 13.38 D% 16.50 9.65 11.54 15.19 19.12 WB % 33.39 26.69 11.46 40.00 34.98 48.06 WB % 21.77 57.23 35.81 28.96 72.28 34.51 WB % 47.44 22.43 32.07 27.64 42.17 Result Netherlands Japan Netherlands Denmark Denmark Netherlands Result Italy Slovakia Slovakia Italy Italy Paraguay Result Portugal Brazil Brazil Portugal Draw
46 Group H 15 16 31 32 47 48
North Korea A Honduras Spain Chile Spain Chile Switzerland
Ivory Coast B Chile Switzerland Switzerland Honduras Spain Honduras
37.04 WA % 36.99 77.20 33.14 55.45 13.33 37.80
15.16 D% 20.90 9.89 18.50 15.82 17.87 19.33
47.80 WB % 42.11 12.91 48.36 28.72 68.81 42.86
Ivory Coast Result Draw Spain Switzerland Spain Spain Draw
Final Round Odds Round of 16 A France Argentina England Germany B Nigeria Mexico Serbia USA WA % 35.70 50.45 56.27 55.91 52.75 37.26 63.97 41.85 WA % 51.63 31.32 36.28 30.47 D% 13.72 22.05 14.51 11.21 12.78 28.58 8.31 26.98 D% 25.69 28.54 28.20 31.01 WB % 50.58 27.49 29.22 32.88 34.47 34.16 27.72 31.17 WB % 22.68 40.14 35.51 38.52 Result Nigeria Argentina England Germany Netherlands Draw Brazil Spain Result England Brazil Draw Spain
Netherlands Slovakia Italy Brazil Spain Quarter Finals A England Denmark Switzerland Portugal B Nigeria
Netherlands Brazil Argentina Italy Germany Spain
A England Argentina
B Brazil Spain Argentina Spain
WA % 28.13 40.11 42.63 32.95
D% 29.66 13.22 26.69 37.52
WB % 42.21 46.67 30.67 29.54
Result Brazil Draw England Draw
3rd Place Finals
Places Position Champion Runnerup 3rd Place 4th Place 5th Place 6th Place 7th Place 8th Place Team Brazil Spain England Argentina Germany Netherlands Italy Nigeria
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