PredictWise Blog

World Cup: USA needs to win, draw, or not lose badly

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The USA is 78% likely to qualify for round of sixteen at the 2014 World Cup. They currently have 4 points and a +1 goal differential (GD), Germany has 4 points and a +4 GD, Ghana has 1 point and a -1 GD, and Portugal has 1 point and a -4 GD. The top two teams advance based on points, GD, and then goals scored. There is one set of games remaining that will be played simultaneously at 12 PM ET on Thursday: USA versus Germany and Ghana versus Portugal.

62% Likely to happen (100% likely to advance): USA automatically qualifies on points if they win, draw, or Ghana and Portugal draw. USA is just short of 50% likely to either win or draw against Germany, and Ghana and Portugal are about 25% to draw. Since these games are ostensively independent (as they are played at the same time) the USA has a 62% likelihood of advancing on points.

22% Likely to happen (66% likely to advance): If USA loses and Portugal wins they would be tied with 4 points each, but USA has a huge GD advantage. Portugal needs to make up 5 goals; for example, the USA needs lose by 3 and Portugal win by 2 or something similarly dramatic. Thus, USA has a 66% likelihood of advancing if they lose and Portugal wins.

16% Likely to happen (5% likely to advance): If USA loses and Ghana wins, again, just 16% likely, then the USA is in a bit of trouble. By definition they will be at least tied on GD (as Ghana would need to win by at least one and USA lose by at least one). It is highly likely Ghana would win by more than 1 or the USA would lose by more than 1. And, even if they are tied on GD, the USA would only advance if they scored more goals. Thus, USA has just a 5% likelihood of advancing if they lose and Ghana wins.

The likelihood of USA advancing is greatly increased by the unique position that both Germany and USA advance with a draw. While outright collusion for a 0-0 draw is unlikely, neither team is going to be too aggressive. Below I have charted the likelihood of a USA victory, draw, or Germany victory in the upcoming game. Notice that the likelihood of a draw spiked dramatically as the USA game finished at about 8 PM ET on June 22. Despite Germany still being likely to win, the most likely score of the game, by far, is 1-1.

The winner of group G plays the loser of group H and vice-versa. Group H’s star team, Belgium, has been underperforming all World Cup. While they are certainly better than Algeria or Russia, they are beatable. Thus, there is not a huge concern over winning the group or coming in second.

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World Cup Day 12: USA, USA, USA … almost!

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Monday’s Games: Groups A and B end on Monday with simultaneous games played for each of the groups. First, group B finish with Spain 69% over Australia 12% and 19% for a draw. This game is between the two losers. The two winners Chile 35%, Netherlands 38% and 27% for a draw play for the top spot in the group. Group A is a little more interesting with Croatia 37% playing Mexico 35% and 28% to draw. Mexico has 4 points and Croatia has 3 points, so Mexico needs a win or draw to advance, thus has about 60% to advance over Croatia, despite being a slight underdog in the game. Brazil plays their final tune-up for the round of sixteen with Cameroon where they are 86% likely to win, 4% likely to lose, and 10% for a draw.

Sunday’s Games: The USA is 78% likely to advance after tying Portugal. They advance with a win or tie against Germany. If they lose, they are still likely to advance. The have 4 points and both Ghana and Portugal have 4 points. The tie-breaker is goal differential. So, if the USA loses and either Ghana or Portugal wins the USA has a goal differential of +1 while Ghana is -1 and Portugal -4. If the USA is tied on goal differential they go to goals scored, where the USA has 4, Ghana 3, and Portugal 2. Thus, the biggest threat is Ghana winning and the USA losing. With a crazy day in group H, Belgium is going on while Algeria is in the driver’s seat over Russia and South Korea.

Overall View: Not much movement up top today with none of the major favorites playing.

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World Cup Day 11: USA, USA, USA v. Portugal

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Today’s Games: Group G, otherwise known as USA’s group, is finishing its second round today with the USA 21% against Portugal 53% with 26% to draw. While not guaranteed, a draw would make the USA extremely likely to advance to round of sixteen. These odds are much improved for the USA following the first round of the round robin when the USA defeated Ghana and Portugal was crushed by Germany. The other games today are the two group H games with South Korea 39% to Algeria 31% with 30% for a draw. And, Belgium just 45% to Russia 26% with 29% for a draw. The Belgium team is heavily favored to advance, but it is not nearly as strong as everyone expected going into the World Cup.

Yesterday’s Games: Both Argentina and Germany were underwhelming in their second matches, but did well enough to keep moving forward. Despite losing, Iran kept its hopes of qualifying for the round of sixteen out of group F alive by only losing by 1 to Argentina.

Overall View: The biggest winner yesterday was France, who is increasingly looking like it belongs with the big three of Brazil, Germany, and Argentina.

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World Cup Day 10: Argentina and Germany come out to play …

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Today’s Games: Two of the four top teams are playing today with Germany 74% playing Ghana 9% with just 17% to draw in the USA’s group G. Germany opened strong against Portugal and a good win here would cement them as the best team in the tournament (Brazil is the favorite due to home turf, not being the best team). In group F action Argentina 86% is up against Iran 4% with 10% to draw. This is the most lopsided game we have seen all tournament. Finally, Bosnia 52% takes on Nigeria 22% with 26% to draw. The winner of this game would be in the driver’s seat for the second spot in group F.

Yesterday’s Games: England was eliminated with Cost Rica’s victory over Italy yesterday. Costa Rica is the surprise of the tournament so far. They are just 1% likely to win, but that is much more than when the World Cup started!

Overall View: France looked sharp in dismantling Switzerland, cementing them as the 4th most likely team to win behind: Brazil, Germany, and Argentina.

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World Cup Day 9: Half way there ...

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Today’s Games: England’s small chance of making to the round of sixteen hangs in the balance of today’s Italy 63% versus Costa Rica 14% game (with 23% to draw). All three teams in group D, which are not England, have 3 points and England has 0 points. A tie would eliminate England, as two teams would reach 4 points. Their best hope is a victory by Italy that would leave Italy secure and Uruguay and Costa Rica with 3 points each. Then, a big English victory over Costa Rica and an Italy victory over Uruguay could get them into the next round. The other two games are in group E with Switzerland 21% against France 52% with 27% to draw. And, Honduras 17% against Ecuador at 59% with 24% to draw. France and Switzerland are heavy favorites to advance.

Yesterday’s Games: Colombia’s victory secured it a spot in the round of sixteen and the Ivory Coast, despite its loss, is in a good position for the other spot in group C. Ivory Coast has 3 points, to 1 point for Japan and Greece, and finishes the round robin with a match against Greece. England’s loss put them in a tight spot as they watch today’s match between Italy and Costa Rica.

Overall View: Not much change at the top yesterday. Confidence in Germany continues to grow and everyone is waiting on Argentina’s second match against Nigeria to see how good they really are!

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