The World Cup Begins

It's World Cup time! Who's excited? Everyone, of course! The World Cup is a fantastic event where the world comes together to decide which nation has the greatest team in the world's most loved sport. Also, it's the time when Americans will try their best to like soccer until the USA is defeated or their NFL team's OTAs get interesting. But, what brings us all together is the betting! Who doesn't love statistics and modeling! Let's take a look at what's currently out there:

Group A

Brazil - FIFA Rank #3 - Odds 1:19
Croatia - FIFA Rank #18 - Odds 6:5
Mexico - FIFA Rank #20 - Odds 7:5
Cameroon - FIFA Rank #56 - Odds 9:2

Group B

Spain - FIFA Rank #1 - Odds 1:5
Netherlands - FIFA Rank #15 - Odds 8:11
Chile - FIFA Rank #14 - Odds 19:20
Australia - FIFA Rank #62 - Odds 13:1

Group C

Columbia - FIFA Rank #8 - Odds 1:3
Greece - FIFA Rank #12 - Odds 23:10
Cote d'Ivoire - FIFA Rank #23 - Odds 11:10
Japan - FIFA Rank #46 - Odds 6:5

Group D

Uruguay - FIFA Rank #7 - Odds 4:7
Costa Rica - FIFA Rank #28 - Odds 10:1
England - FIFA Rank #10 - Odds 3:5
Italy - FIFA Rank #9 - Odds 4:9

Group E

Switzerland - FIFA Rank #6 - Odds 13:19
Ecuador - FIFA Rank #26 - Odds 20:19
France - FIFA Rank #17 - Odds 1:5
Honduras - FIFA Rank #33 - Odds 7:1

Group F

Argentina - FIFA Rank #5 - Odds 1:19
Bosnia and Herzegovina - FIFA Rank #21 - Odds 11:13
Iran - FIFA Rank #43 - Odds 13:2
Nigeria - FIFA Rank #44 - Odds 13:8

Group G

Germany - FIFA Rank #2 - Odds 1:6
Portugal - FIFA Rank #4 - Odds 8:15
Ghana - FIFA Rank #37 - Odds 3:1
USA - FIFA Rank #13 - Odds 7:2

Group H

Belgium - FIFA Rank #11 - Odds 1:4
Algeria - FIFA Rank #22 - Odds 9:2
Russia - FIFA Rank #19 - Odds 6:11
Korea Republic - FIFA Rank #57 - Odds 24:13

Now, like the typical American, I know very little about what's written above. I know Brazil is the "home team" and that Christiano Ronaldo is very good and yep, that's it. In other words, using knowledge alone, I would do very poorly. Instead, let's take a look at the SPI and how Nate Silver cranked out some of the stats:

Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, Mexico

There’s little doubt that Brazil is the class of the group — SPI gives the team a 99.3 percent chance of advancing to the knockout stage — and that Cameroon is the weakest link.

Group B: Australia, Chile, Netherlands, Spain

Spain seems safe. But SPI estimates there’s a 20 percent chance that both the Netherlands and Chile play up to the higher end of the range, or they get a lucky bounce, or Australia pulls off a miracle, and Spain fails to advance despite wholly deserving to.

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

But who can challenge Colombia? Greece is just the sort of team that SPI usually isn’t keen on: a mid-tier European squad that lacks elite talent. However, the alternatives are Japan and Ivory Coast, and this does not look like a promising year for teams outside of Europe and South America, who collectively have just a 2.2 percent chance of winning the World Cup.

Group D: Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay

Betting markets see England, Italy and Uruguay as about equally likely to advance while Costa Rica is in a distant fourth place. SPI, by contrast, has England and Uruguay ahead of Italy and views the group as middling enough that Costa Rica could pull off a huge upset.

Group E: Ecuador, France, Honduras, Switzerland

France is drawn into a reasonably good group. Switzerland, for some reason, ranks sixth in the world in the FIFA rankings but Elo has it 16th and we have it 21st. Ecuador, which has some credible results against European teams (a draw last month in the Netherlands; a win last year against Portugal) might be the tougher out.

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

It would be a major upset if Argentina failed to advance to the knockout stage — SPI gives the team a 93 percent chance of doing so, the second-highest total in the field after Brazil.

Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal, United States

The U.S., according to SPI, has a 36 percent chance of advancing through Group G, but only a 0.4 percent probability (about 1 chance in 250) of coming home with the World Cup trophy.

Group H: Algeria, Belgium, Russia, South Korea

This is the weakest group in the field by some margin just about any way you slice and dice it. According to SPI, it has both the worst best team (Belgium is dangerous but ranks 11th in the world — every other group has at least one team in the top 10) and the worst worst team (Algeria ranks 65th in the world per SPI, the worst in the 32-team field).

For both the soccer fans and gambling fans of WSO, the World Cup should provide ample opportunities for enjoyment. How do you monkeys see it playing out?

Enjoy the games, everyone!


Where'd you pull those odds from/what are they for? Getting out of the group or bringing home the trophy? If it's taking home the trophy then damn I need to get into the book keeping business


Is this just click-bait

The squid did a report on the world cup, read it and you should be able to bluff through an conversation about it…

You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake son.

I don't know a single person here in Washington, D.C. who has so much as mentioned the World Cup. Here in the U.S. soccer is relegated to hot teenage girls.


The U.S is not making it past the group stage. Sorry! :-)

I suspect either Germany or Spain will win teh cup this time around. REALLY solid teams with elite players and strong team-work.

Really excited to get this started!

Best Response

A few weeks ago, Germany was my pick to become the first European side to win in a cup in the Americas. However, while Germany has tremendous depth at most positions and world class talent playing in the world's best leagues they have sustained some fairly significant injuries: Reus (out), Neur (playing but shoulder), Khedira (coming back from surgery), etc. Even with an aging Klose, they are still dangerous from anywhere on the field. I am now leaning more towards Spain given what they have accomplished over the past 4 years and because I think that they are the most complete team in the tournament. I am most excited to watch Argentina because I am not sure who can stop Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, and Higuain.

While the US has a low probability of advancing, if they beat Ghana, draw against Portugal (Howard plays unreal and US shuts down the counter through Coentrao and Ronaldo), they have a decent shot but will likely not advance based on goal differential as Portugal would probably go 1-1-1 in that scenario (and concede fewer goals against G). With 300+ million and a growing Hispanic influence it is not long before the US becomes a consistent top 10 team (even taking into account that we have 4-5 other major sports in the country that take away some of our best athletes).

It's ok I'm with the gov:

DC may not have very many American soccer fans but between the big Latin and European communities and all the people who "found themselves" their junior semester abroad there are plenty of soccer fans. I personally don't care about soccer but I doubt that'll stop me from being exceedingly drunk during the USA game Monday.

Yeah, there'll be plenty of people in the marginalized, impoverished illegal immigrant community who will care about the World Cup. Not exactly the core demographic for most American advertisers.


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