World Cup: England Bore, Prediction Scores, and Future Big Matchups
1) England haven't exactly been lighting it up on the goalscoring charts. However, their defense has been solid. This should come as a surprise to no one. So they're involved in a lot of low scoring games at the World Cup.
Yeah, you're not kidding. Look at this amazing stat: At the past 5 World Cups that they've taken part in, England's group has been the one with the fewest goals scored every time.
That's 46 goals in 30 group games, for an average of 1.53 per match.
2) In my World Cup preview, I posted a list of the teams I picked to advance to the round of 16. Next to that, I posted who would be favored to advance using other systems. Let's see which one performed the best.
Of my own personal picks, I got 12 of 16 correct. That's pretty good. I only missed Ecuador, Ghana, Switzerland, and the Ukraine. Everybody missed Ghana and Ecuador, though.
Here's a list of how they did, with the teams that they missed:
1st place: 13/16
Yes, the conventional wisdom of the betting odds was the best predictor. Not a lot of upsets, indeed. They had every Euro team favored except Serbia & Montenegro.
2nd place: 12/16
Alltime World Cup performance-Ecuador/Ghana/Australia/Ukraine
GDP per capita-Ecuador/Ghana/Brazil/Ukraine
I guess this time around, ELO is better than FIFA. Tradition and money are powerful things as well. No surprise that GDP is a better predictor than population or area.
5th place: 10/16
It was a return to form for the world's best teams, making 2002 the abberation. I should note that I considered Cote d'Ivoire favorites to advance under that system, because they finished higher in their qualifying group (2nd) than the Netherlands or Serbia (both 3rd).
8th place: 9/16
vs other 31-Ecuador/Sweden/Portugal/Ghana/Australia/Switzerland/Ukraine
Yes, all the work that I did to figure out how World Cup teams did against each other in the past cycle was for naught. Not a shock considering that friendlies don't mean much.
3) I'm sure a lot of you heard during the great France-Spain match that it was the first time the two teams had met. Like Brazil-Germany four years ago, that's unusual for two teams who are traditional powers. I decided to see what are the "biggest" matchups we've never seen.
First, all 7 former champions have all played one another. So instead, I went by number of World Cup games (see Planet World Cup's all time table). There are now 11 teams that have played 40 or more games at the World Cup. In addition to the 7 champions, you also have Spain, Sweden, Mexico, and Serbia (which officially has Yugoslavia's history).
Among those 11 teams, there are three matchups we've yet to see:
Italy vs Serbia
England vs Serbia
France vs Sweden