PredictWise Blog

World Cup Group Stage: Accurate and Calibrated

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The predictions were well-calibrated for the group stage. There were 48 games with three possible outcomes each. I took all 144 predictions and bucketed them as 0%-10%, 10%-20%, etc., and took the average prediction on the x-axis and the percentage that came true on the y-axis. The closer to the 45° line the better the calibration as that means the predictions occurred at the rate I predicted. And, this chart looks good! It is not surprising, because in aggregate, the average probability for favored team was 57% and they won 58% of games and the average probability for draw was 24% and they drew 19% of games. Thus, the draws were slightly over-forecasted and the underdogs winning was slightly under-forecasted.

I did not report binary outcomes for the group stage, but I did have predictions for which teams will get out of the group stage. This is not directly the same, but it is very close. And, they looked great as well. The highest likelihood team took the top seed in 6 of 8 groups. The second highest likelihood team took the second spot in 3 of 8 groups. Additionally, I had Netherlands as a second highest likelihood and they took the top spot in their group. Thus, 10 of 16 teams were favored with 9 of 16 teams favored in their position.*

As a comparison, Goldman Sachs had 4 of the top seeds and 1 of the second seeds. I did not capture all other predictions, but this record is higher than any of the other forecasts I followed.

Updating Predictions: likelihood of any game and likelihood of any team reaching any round. Details on method and full coverage.

*I updated my math: 6 + 3 + 1 = 10 ...

World Cup Day 15: USA, USA, USA … USA, USA, USA …

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Today’s Games: USA plays at 12 PM ET today and I have carefully outlined their path to the round of 16 here. In short, if they win, draw, or Portugal and Ghana draw they are in with 100%. If they lose and Portugal wins they are likely still in the next round. If they lose and Ghana wins they are in trouble. USA is 11% to win, with 56% to lose, and 33% to draw. This is the highest probability of drawing I have had for any game. Portugal is 50% to win, 29% for Ghana to win, and 21% for a draw. In the other group, group H, which is playing at 4 PM ET, South Korea is 20% versus Belgium 54% with 26% to draw. And, Algeria is 27% against Russia 47% with 26% to draw. Belgium is in with 6 points and Algeria has 3 points. So, if Belgium wins or draws, a Russia win would put them in the round of 16 and an Algeria win or draw would put them in the round of 16. South Korea’s 2.5% likelihood of advancing rests on a Russia win, South Korea winning by 2 or more goals than Russia beats Algeria. Eight teams go into this final day of the round robin and four teams will come out the other side …

Yesterday’s Games: Groups F and E went exactly as expected yesterday with Bosnia knocking down Iran to give Nigeria the second spot in group F. And, France holding onto the top spot with a draw, while Switzerland grabbed the second spot with a win over Honduras.

Overall View: Again, no substantial changes at the top with most of the pre-tournament picks continuing as expected. As of this morning there are 12 set spots in the round of 16 draw. We did not explicitly pick the binary outcomes, but we did have probability of advancing for all 32 teams. Of the 12 teams that have qualified so far, we had 8 of 12 as likely to advance: Brazil, Mexico, Netherlands, Colombia, Uruguay, France, Switzerland, and Argentina. For the other four teams, we had Chile at 49.9% to advance, Greece at 30.2%, Costa Rica at 7.7%, and Nigeria at 41.9%. Of the 12 teams that advanced, 7 were in the proper position (which means 58%

World Cup Day 14: Group E and F ... then the USA!

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Today’s Games: Groups E and F finish their round robins today. Group F kicks off at noon with Nigeria 10% against Argentina 65% with 25% to draw. And, Bosnia at 48% against Iran at 26% and 26% to draw. Argentina is through to the next round with 6 points and Nigeria is in command for the second spot with 4 points. Iran has 1 point and can tie Nigeria if they beat Bosnia and Nigeria loses to Argentina. If that happens, they will likely advance on goal differential. Group E feature Honduras 12% and Switzerland 67%, with 21% to draw. And, Ecuador 17%, France 59% with 24% to draw. France is almost definite to advance with 6 points, but Ecuador and Switzerland are tied with 3 points each. Switzerland is about 67% to advance assuming they are likely to take more points off of Honduras than Ecuador off of France.

Yesterday’s Games: Italy was the slightest of favorites yesterday over Uruguay, but lost in a tight 1-0 game. I am really at a loss to explain why Uruguay’s star player bit an Italy player, but it could cost them dearly if he is suspended. Another upset in group C where Ivory Coast advanced with a win or draw against Greece, but lost on a penalty in injury time.

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

Updating Predictions: likelihood of any game and likelihood of any team reaching any round. Details on method and full coverage.

World Cup Day 13: Still no faith in Costa Rica!

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Today’s Games: Groups C and D play their final games today. The action opens with group D as England 55% hopes to provide some comfort for their early exit against the surprising Costa Rica 20% squad (with 25% for a draw). Italy 39% versus Uruguay 34% with 27% to draw is the more interesting match for the group. Costa Rica is through to the round of 16 with 6 points and Italy and Uruguay are tied with 3 points. So whoever wins is through and a draw would go to goal differential which Italy will win, as they are at 0 and Uruguay is at -1. Hence, Italy is 66% to advance and Uruguay is 34%. Group C plays next with Japan 25% against Colombia 50% with 25% to draw. And, Greece 23% against Ivory Cost 51% with 26% to draw. Colombia is through with 6 points. Ivory Coast has 3 points to Japan and Greece’s 1 point. Ivory Coast advances with a win or draw, if Japan loses or draws Colombia. Greece advances with a win if Japan loses against Colombia. Japan needs to win and Ivory Coast lose to have a real shot of advancing.

Yesterday’s Games: Mexico looked strong against Croatia for the second spot in group A. And the Netherlands looks strong against Chile in securing the top spot in group B.

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

Updating Predictions: likelihood of any game and likelihood of any team reaching any round. Details on method and full coverage.

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.

Updating Predictions: likelihood of any game and likelihood of any team reaching any round. Details on method and full coverage.