Getting into the World Cup groove

The World Cup starts in 2 days, 20 hours, 42 minutes and 30 seconds. Make that 29. 28. 27. 26. 25.  As is usual with these things, everyone wants to get in on the act of predicting how far all the teams go.

I have watched the application of statistics to quantify football over the last few years with great interest, primarily because I am a lover of both.

One thing that strikes me in all the models I have seen so far, is how nearly all of them are united in the conclusion that Brazil will win the World Cup. It is not even really close, as Brazil are about three times more likely to win than anyone else.

As far as Nigeria is concerned, the pre-tournament prediction models make for slightly disturbing reading. Only one model, done by EA Sports, has the Super Eagles qualifying for the second round. Incidentally, it is that same model that has Brazil not winning the World Cup, losing to Germany in the final.

You can see the EA Sports predictions here. The others, by Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Five Thirty Eight, and a chap called Andrew Yuan, whose work was cited by the Economist, can be viewed here, here, here, and here.

Also, if it is your thing, you can play World Cup Fantasy Football here. Picking 23 players from 736 is insanely hard.

In addition, there are very, very good previews from FourFourTwo, WhoScored, and the Guardian UK.

I really can’t wait.

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