World Cup: Holland to win, Spain to slump

We know the score. Yes


World Cup Stats Spain is chewing on the chorizo of defeat thanks to Switzerland's 1-0 victory yesterday, and history shows this result is a major setback.

In the last 40 years only one top 10 team has won a World Cup group after an opening game defeat. Only four have finished in the top two. The tournament favourites Spain now face a serious group H struggle to move to the next round.

But should Spain really have been the tournament favourites? They were according to bookies and pundits, but the UK's top soccer statistician has Holland as the top team, after its form in the final set of friendly matches saw it sneak past Spain and Brazil.

Dr Ian McHale is Senior Lecturer in Statistics in the University of Salford. He and his team are also behind the Actim Index, which is the official ratings system of the English Premier League. This is an objective rating of players using official match statistics, not one based on subjective notions such as flair - not to be confused with the Sky-linked Opta Index.

McHale did some modelling of the teams in the lead-up to the World Cup. He used an 'ordered probit' model (an ordered regression model, stats fans) to estimate the probability of the three outcomes of a match - whether the result will be a win, a draw or a loss.

You can mark his working out here in an article he wrote for the Institution of Engineering and Technology. This doesn't include his final number crunch on the World Cup which put Holland top.

The Reg caught up with Dr McHale at half time during the Spain – Switzerland game. At the time he was saying “It's beautiful to watch, Spain do know what they're doing”, and hypothesising that someone like Owen Hargreaves would have been better for marking Spain's Xavi out of the game, than Frank Lampard.

His model only uses the results of previous International games, the number of goals scored, and and location of game. Weighting comes from Fifa's database of team rankings.

Things that favour a team are: if they're at home; or haven't travelled too far; are ranked higher than the opposition; if they're an improving team according to ranking; the seriousness of the game (friendly or major tournament - better teams take major tournaments more seriously); and if they've been winning recently.

“I've got a database of 9,000 international match results over an eight-year period,” he says, viewing his research as a way of showing statistics can be interesting, and seeing whether the “market is efficient”.

Next page: And the list is...

Other stories you might like

  • Graviton 3: AWS attempts to gain silicon advantage with latest custom hardware

    Key to faster, more predictable cloud

    RE:INVENT AWS had a conviction that "modern processors were not well optimized for modern workloads," the cloud corp's senior veep of Infrastructure, Peter DeSantis, claimed at its latest annual Re:invent gathering in Las Vegas.

    DeSantis was speaking last week about AWS's Graviton 3 Arm-based processor, providing a bit more meat around the bones, so to speak – and in his comment the word "modern" is doing a lot of work.

    The computing landscape looks different from the perspective of a hyperscale cloud provider; what counts is not flexibility but intensive optimization and predictable performance.

    Continue reading
  • The Omicron dilemma: Google goes first on delaying office work

    Hurrah, employees can continue to work from home and take calls in pyjamas

    Googlers can continue working from home and will no longer be required to return to campuses on 10 January 2022 as previously expected.

    The decision marks another delay in getting more employees back to their desks. For Big Tech companies, setting a firm return date during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare. All attempts were pushed back so far due to rising numbers of cases or new variants of the respiratory disease spreading around the world, such as the new Omicron strain.

    Google's VP of global security, Chris Rackow, broke the news to staff in a company-wide email, first reported by CNBC. He said Google would wait until the New Year to figure out when campuses in the US can safely reopen for a mandatory return.

    Continue reading
  • This House believes: A unified, agnostic software environment can be achieved

    How long will we keep reinventing software wheels?

    Register Debate Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you the reader choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your vote on which side you support using the poll embedded below, choosing whether you're in favour or against the motion. The final score will be announced on Friday, revealing whether the for or against argument was most popular.

    This week's motion is: A unified, agnostic software environment can be achieved. We debate the question: can the industry ever have a truly open, unified, agnostic software environment in HPC and AI that can span multiple kinds of compute engines?

    Our first contributor arguing FOR the motion is Nicole Hemsoth, co-editor of The Next Platform.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021