PredictWise Blog

World Cup, Round 16, Day 3: France and Germany

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Today’s Games: France and Germany play their round of sixteen games today and both are big favorites to advance. France 82% plays the opening match against Nigeria 18% at noon ET. France was a big mover during the group stage; while they tied Ecuador, they demolished their two other opponents, including Switzerland. The second game features Germany 88% against Algeria 12%. Germany came into the tournament as the third most likely winner and continues to look strong. They are further helped by playing Algeria, who squeaked into the round sixteen with 4 points, by beating South Korea and tying Russia.

Yesterday’s Games: Yesterday’s outcomes were as expected, but very close games! Netherlands defeated Mexico by scoring in the 88’ and 94’ minute of regulation (for you non-soccer fans the game is only 90’ long, but the game does not end until they have accounted for any time the play on the field stopped). On a personal note, it was a lot of fun watching that game in a bar in Rotterdam, Netherlands! The second game went through overtime into penalty kicks with Costa Rica, the slight favorite, prevailing over Greece. Costa Rica played down one person for about 60 minutes. The red card (or in this case two yellow cards) is one of the harshest in-game penalties in sports.

Overall View: Again, yesterday’s outcomes did not make a huge dent in the likely winner. Brazil is still most likely with about 25%, followed by Germany, Argentina, and the Netherlands. France, pending a victory today, will join the top five tomorrow.

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

World Cup, Round 16, Day 2: Netherlands and Costa Rica

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Today’s Games: The first game today feature the Netherlands 65% against Mexico 35%. The Dutch squad was reasonable favorite going into the World Cup, but pushed upward on the strength of a strong group stage of 3-0-0 against: Chile, Spain, and Australia. Mexico limped into the World Cup, but played Brazil to a draw and beat both Croatia and Cameroon. The other game is hard to predict with Costa Rica 54% the unexpected favorite against Greece 46%. Costa Rica beat Italy and Uruguay while drawing England. Greece was not nearly as successful in their group play, but the methodology continues to underestimate the extremely surprising Costa Ricans.

Yesterday’s Games: Yesterday’s outcomes were as expected. Colombia handled Uruguay, who was short the world’s most famous biter. Brazil beat Chile, of course it was much tighter than anticipated, with Brazil needing penalty kicks after tying in both regulation and over-time.

Overall View: Yesterday’s outcomes did not affect the likelihood at the top very much. Brazil continues to be buoyed by their home field advantage (which was not on display very much in a questionable handball call). They need to win just three more games, but none of them are predicted to be easy.

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

World Cup, Round 16, Day 1: Brazil and Colombia favored

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Today’s Games: There are two games today. The round of 16 kicks off the same way as the group stage with Brazil 79% over Chile 21%. Going forward I am only making probabilistic predictions on the final outcome, not on the outcome of regulation. This would be a much closer match if it were not played in Brazil; the roar of the crowd is important, but the subjectivity of the referees is much more important. The second game features Colombia 64% over Uruguay 36%. Of course, this would be a much closer match if Uruguay’s start player were not suspended for biting.

Yesterday’s Games: No games yesterday! Just the afterglow of the USA’s entry into the round of 16 on the boot of suddenly popular Ronaldo (who secured USA’s advancement by scoring on Ghana for Portugal).

Overall View: Brazil 24%, Argentina 18%, and Germany 18%, my top three teams heading into the World Cup, still look as strong expected (and still in the same rank order). The Netherlands, who started at 11th and France, who started at 6th, are the big upward movers and are now 4th and 5th. Spain was ranked 4th, which was my only team in the top 7 that did not qualify. Belgium, which rounded out my original top 5, actually fell in ranking, despite a 3-0-0 record. I now have them in 7th. Although, they are favored over USA on Tuesday.

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

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%