Wrap-up of the final round of the group stages:
7 correct, 4 draws, 5 incorrect and we’re not even upset about the outcome 🙂 .
As predicted, the last round of the group stage turned out to be difficult to predict due to the line-up changes based on tactical choices and eliminated teams, being fueled by pure pride and honor to show what they’re capable of. And this is exactly the Achilles heel of our model.
We’re using a variant of the Elo-rating system, which is great at determining the strongest team based on the previous games. When it’s possible to rank the teams, you can estimate the chances of a team winning or losing against to the other teams. What this type of system is not good at, is taking into account the sentiment of a game.
For example, let’s start with Saudi-Arabia.
The Saudis lost their opening game to Russia (5-0) and also lost their second game against Uruguay (1-0). This seemed to have triggered them with an absolute desire to NOT go home empty-handed.
The same can be said for Peru, that won against Australia (who also had to leave the tournament with only 1 point) despite losing their first two group matches.
And of course the biggest upset, South-Korea that beat Germany in their final game, but then again who doesn’t like the opportunity of knocking the reigning world champion out of the tournament.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have the game between Denmark and France.
Both teams were already qualified for the knock-out phase and, to be honest that game was as exciting as watching paint dry …
Last but not least, Belgium versus England, 17 different players in the starting line-up. You could have called it a friendly match.
To conclude the group stage :
from our previous table of teams who still were close to, but still uncertain of qualification. Only Senegal, Nigeria, Germany gave their advantage away to Colombia, Argentina and Sweden.
Let the survival of the fittest begin!
Now that we’ve reached the knock-out stage, we have 2 brackets where we might say that … one definitely stands out.
Almost all the top-teams are in the first bracket, except for Spain and England.
What are the consequences of this?
Even though some teams might be favourites at this moment, they have a really tough road to the finals., which means that their probability of becoming the world champion can drop dramatically along the way. And like we said in the previous blog, one of the key factors in football is luck. This means that it is even harder for the favourite to become world champion than an underdog.
If the favourite wins, it is accepted as normal. If the underdog win, most of people will say it was luck…
Normally, under perfect circumstances, the strongest should always win, but this is the World Cup and a single error can mean you’re out.
Also good to know, in the next figure, you’ll see that at this moment Belgium has the highest chance of reaching the finals, even though Brazil and Mexico have an higher rating.
The reason: Belgium has to play against Japan, whereas Brazil and Mexico will be facing each other. This means that by default Brazil and Mexico cannot go through at the same time. Or with other words, Belgium only have 2 tough games on their road to the finals, while Brazil and Mexico have 3 !
As interesting as the previous bracket is, So … is the other one.
Who will stop Spain & England from reaching the semi-finals? The only potential downside for both teams is that they might not have been fully tested on their way to the (semi-) finals.
Croatia is definitely a very good outsider for us. It’s not a group of 11 superstars, but as a collective, they are a team to watch out for.
For the upcoming games, we do not foresee any difficulties for Belgium, England nor Spain. The other teams on the other hand …
Also good to know, we now take the 3 best line-ups out of the teams’ 4 latest line-ups, as we expect that each team will start with ± their strongest line-up at this stage.
This also means that we probably won’t take into account the recent line-ups of France, Belgium and England.
In the first blog of this Series, we had 6 major contenders, but now that we know a little bit more, we can have a brief reflection:
As listed below and said before: Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, Argentina & Portugal has to face each other first off before they can reach the finals.
Also, even though teams of the first bracket has a lower probability to reach the finals, they have a higher change to win it. This because of the fact that they won against stronger opponents & because they have collected more Elo-rating points.
Initial Probabilities to become World Champion:
- Brazil 12,7 %
- England 8,6 %
Germany 8,3 %
- Belgium 7,3 %
- Spain 7,3 %
- Portugal 7,2 %
- Brazil 11%
- Mexico 11%
- Belgium 12%
- Argentina 8%
- Portugal 8%
- Spain 14%
- England 9%
Even though Spain and England potentially have the easiest road to victory, but they shouldn’t underestimate their opponents as they have shown great potential and fueled by pride and honor are very capable of overperforming and causing unexpected outcomes.
See you on the next update !