What are typical football results II?

We continue What are typical football results? The notion of weaker and stronger has not been made precise. Is is true that a team that has say 5 Elo points more than another team is really stronger? What might be an appropriate threshold? A glance at the current Elo ranking might give an indication that teams in within 50 points may be considered as equally strong. But is this true? At which threshold the probabilities of win, draw, lose will change?

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What are typical football results?

In this post we continue our investigation of Who wins the 2018 FIFA World Cup™? and take a first look on historical data of FIFA football matches. These are obtained from the site www.eloratings.net using the wayback machine and some copy-and-paste. Unfortunately, our data set obtained in this way is not complete and we did not obtain data on all FIFA matches in this millennium. However, we were able to retrieve all matches of the FIFA World cup 2018 participants plus the matches of Italy, the Netherlands, and Austria. Yes, Italy and the Netherlands are not qualified, but we still are convinced that these two teams are amongst the strongest teams in the world. We added Austria to pay homage to the country where we spent a lot of quality time.

We will try to answer questions like:

  • What is the most probable outcome of a game? [->]
  • What is the probability to have a win, a draw or a lose? [->]
  • What is the probability that the stronger team wins? [->] And with what result? [->]

The answers to these questions can be found following the links after the questions. Detailed answers can be found below.

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Who wins the 2018 FIFA World Cup™?

In just a few weeks the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ starts. People already discuss passionately who is going to win and how the chances for their teams are. Almost everybody has an intuition, opinion, idea, feeling or whatsoever about the performances of the different nations. There might be a consensus among football experts and fans on the top favorites, e.g. Brazil, Germany, Spain, but more debate on possible underdogs. However, most of these predictions rely on subjective opinions and are very hard if not impossible to quantify. An additional difficulty is the complexity of the tournament, with billions of different outcomes, making it very difficult to obtain accurate guesses of the probabilities of certain events.

How can we make reasonable, objective and quantitative estimates of the outcomes? For example, what is the probability that Brazil, Germany or Spain will win the cup? What are the chances that England will make it to the Round of 16? What are the chances that Brazil beats Germany in the semifinals 7:1?

In this and the following posts, we give quantitative answers to all kind of these questions. This post will start with what we can learn by studying previous matches and tournaments. Once we found some appropriate data we will investigate which models are out there to model an event like the FIFA World Cup.

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