Saturday, December 05, 2009

World Cup Rating Systems Compared

First, let me be the millionth person to say what an amazing draw for the USA. It's about as good as we could've hoped, and for the first time actually we're a favorite to advance. What exactly are the odds of us advancing after this lucky draw? Well, it depends on who you ask. It seems like everybody has a national team rating system these days, so let's take a look at how each of them rate our chances.

Indeed, Voros McCracken, Soccer Power Index (Nate Silver), and the Castrol FIFA World Cup Predictor all have the USA as the second best team in the group. However, the odds for advancement differ (64%, 48%, 73% respectively). In addition, we're also favored to advance if you use the FIFA rankings or the ELO ratings.

Here are the odds for every team using each of the three projections:

Odds for Advancement

Voros SPI Castrol
France 69.1% 60.0% 59.0%
Uruguay 54.8% 62.0% 61.5%
Mexico 56.6% 40.0% 49.5%
South Africa 19.5% 38.0% 30.0%

Argentina 79.4% 77.0% 79.1%
Nigeria 40.6% 58.0% 47.3%
Greece 46.0% 36.0% 46.1%
South Korea 34.1% 29.0% 27.6%

England 89.7% 82.0% 90.2%
USA 64.4% 48.0% 73.0%
Slovenia 30.2% 35.0% 21.0%
Algeria 15.7% 35.0% 15.9%

Germany 76.3% 65.0% 74.4%
Serbia 51.2% 49.0% 47.9%
Australia 45.9% 41.0% 48.2%
Ghana 26.6% 45.0% 29.5%

Netherlands 79.3% 72.0% 79.8%
Denmark 49.9% 40.0% 49.5%
Cameroon 33.6% 63.0% 32.3%
Japan 37.3% 25.0% 38.5%

Italy 83.6% 83.0% 84.3%
Paraguay 67.8% 78.0% 73.3%
Slovakia 43.9% 32.0% 38.8%
New Zealand 4.8% 8.0% 3.6%

Brazil 90.8% 84.0% 91.7%
Portugal 58.7% 55.0% 52.4%
Côte d'Ivoire 45.3% 57.0% 50.5%
North Korea 5.2% 4.0% 5.4%

Spain 88.0% 84.0% 88.1%
Chile 44.2% 57.0% 40.2%
Switzerland 38.2% 29.0% 36.9%
Honduras 29.7% 30.0% 34.7%

The teams each one have advancing that the others don't:

Voros Greece, Mexico
SPI Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire
Castrol Australia

I noticed one of the things SPI does is factor in a World Cup continent home field advantage, so that's why it has African teams higher.

Here's a chart of who each thinks will advance without percentages, including FIFA and ELO as well (using the higher ranked teams):

Advancement Chart

Voros SPI Castrol FIFA ELO
France yes yes yes yes yes
yes yes

Mexico yes

yes yes
South Africa

Argentina yes yes yes yes yes
yes yes

Greece yes

yes yes
South Korea

England yes yes yes yes yes
USA yes yes yes yes yes


Germany yes yes yes yes yes
Serbia yes yes
yes yes



Netherlands yes yes yes yes yes
Denmark yes
yes (tie)

yes (tie)

Italy yes yes yes yes yes
Paraguay yes yes yes yes yes

New Zealand

Brazil yes yes yes yes yes
Portugal yes
yes yes yes
Côte d'Ivoire

North Korea

Spain yes yes yes yes yes
Chile yes yes yes yes yes


Voros and Castrol also have odds for winning the entire tournament. I didn't see that for SPI (yet).

Odds for Winning

Voros Castrol
Algeria 0.0% 0.0%
Argentina 6.6% 7.5%
Australia 1.0% 1.3%
Brazil 23.9% 23.6%
Cameroon 0.6% 0.4%
Chile 0.7% 0.5%
Côte d'Ivoire 1.1% 1.5%
Denmark 1.6% 1.5%
England 9.9% 10.4%
France 5.0% 2.6%
Germany 5.7% 5.8%
Ghana 0.1% 0.2%
Greece 0.7% 0.8%
Honduras 0.3% 0.3%
Italy 3.9% 3.6%
Japan 0.7% 0.7%
Mexico 2.0% 1.3%
Netherlands 10.7% 10.1%
New Zealand 0.0% 0.0%
Nigeria 0.6% 1.1%
North Korea 0.0% 0.0%
Paraguay 1.5% 1.5%
Portugal 3.5% 1.8%
Serbia 1.3% 1.1%
Slovakia 0.1% 0.1%
Slovenia 0.1% 0.0%
South Africa 0.1% 0.3%
South Korea 0.3% 0.2%
Spain 14.4% 16.1%
Switzerland 0.5% 0.4%
Uruguay 1.9% 2.7%
USA 1.2% 2.4%

Only four teams differ by more than one percentage point. Voros has France and Portugal higher, while Castrol has Spain and the USA higher.

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Comments on "World Cup Rating Systems Compared"


Anonymous Sancho said ... (5:29 AM, December 06, 2009) : 


I didn't make it with FIFA and ELO points, but using -and mixing- only the chances given by Vörös, Castrol and SPI, some points came out:

a) France is the favorite with the greatest chance to be eliminated in the first round;

b) groups A, D and E are the ones that could be called "Group of Death";

c) in Group B, besides ARG and NIG have a good advantage, GRE and KOR are not far enough behind to be disconsidered.

d) groups C and F are are the ones with the biggest difference between the top-2 (ENG, USA; ITA, PAR) and bottom-2 (SLV, ALG; SLK, NZL) teams;

e) group H has one strong team (SPA), and 3 close teams that could manage to get the 2nd place; and

f) group G has one strong team (BRA), one weak (KPR), and two very good teams (CIV, POR) that will battle hard for the 2nd spot.

Best regards,


Blogger charles said ... (2:38 PM, December 06, 2009) : 

great job!

I would love it if you could post predictions.They are pretty close to the others. I think they have 15of 16 the same as SPI.They differ only in the Ivory Coast-Portugal debate.

The other one i would like posted is the Aggregated Football World Ranking -List. Lots of foreigners do the same thing and that is updated before each round in a tournament. they beat the odds at euro 2008 3-1 on the 4 points of divergence.


Blogger scaryice said ... (4:12 AM, December 07, 2009) : 


Nice analysis. I'll add that if you add up the percentages, the closest group from 2nd to 4th is Group E. Japan and Honduras are not far behind, even though few people actually give them much of a shot.

Group H is the second closest, with Group D right behind.


I was going to post betting odds, but I couldn't find any to advance rather than to win the group. But I see that oddschecker has that so I'll have to add it later. Thanks for the link.


Anonymous Sancho said ... (4:43 AM, December 07, 2009) : 


The most intriguing part is that those numbers show almost exactly my perceptions about the draw...


Anonymous Talion said ... (6:25 AM, December 07, 2009) : 

SPI thinks Uruguay has a better chance of advancing than France? That's...interesting.


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