Who really won the World Cup?
Mood: geeky
Posted on 2010-07-11 16:22:00
Tags: soccer math
Words: 579

Congrats to Spain, although the final game was not super impressive.

Anyway, before the World Cup, I bought an ESPN magazine guide. It included "measures of success" for all 32 teams, so I thought it would be fun to see who did the best relative to their predictions.

Key:
HH = Happy to be Here = 0 points
OG = Out of Group stage = 1 point
QF = QuarterFinal = 2 points
SF = SemiFinal = 3 points
F = Final = 4 points
W = Win it all = 5 points
(note that the score = 5 - log_2(# of teams left at that stage))

So, without further adieu: (mouseover flag for country name)

GroupSuccessActualDifference
ESFF+1
AQFSF+1
FOGQF+1
EHHOG+1
FHHOG+1
HWW0
DSFSF0
DQFQF0
HOGOG0
BOGOG0
COGOG0
BHHHH0
HHHHH0
FHHHH0
GHHHH0
CHHHH0
COGHH-1
EOGHH-1
AOGHH-1
DOGHH-1
HOGHH-1
CSFOG-2
ASFOG-2
GSFOG-2
DQFHH-2
EQFHH-2
AQFHH-2
BQFHH-2
BWQF-3
GWQF-3
FSFHH-3
GSFHH-3

By group:

GroupTotal successTotal actualDifference
E65-1
F43-1
D86-2
H75-2
C52-3
A84-4
B83-5
G113-8
Total5731-26

By continent:

Continent# of teamsTotal success (avg)Total actual (avg)Difference (avg)
Asia/Australia53 (0.60)2 (0.40)-1 (-0.20)
North America34 (1.33)2 (0.67)-2 (-0.67)
Europe1325 (1.92)15 (1.15)-10 (-0.77)
South America514 (2.80)10 (2.00)-4 (-0.80)
Africa611 (1.83)2 (0.33)-9 (-0.81)

So:
- The least successful group was group C, the most successful was group D. (and of course both group D teams won their round of 16 game against a group C team)
- The group with the worst difference was group G, although the bar for success was very high.
- Group F was expected to be the least successful, but thanks to Paraguay winning their knockout game they got one more point than Group C.
- South America was the most successful continent on average and the one from which most was expected on average, but Asia/Australia was the "least disappointing", mostly because so little was expected. (indeed, if none of their teams had advanced to the knockout round they still would have been "least disappointing", which probably points to a problem with the methodology :-) )
- All but one of the top seeds coming out of the group phase won their next game. The exception was the good ol' USA.
- Exactly half of the teams either met or exceeded their criteria for success. Well done!
- The measure of success for three teams was to win it all (Spain, Brazil, Argentina), but no one's measure of success was just to make it to the final. Interesting...

I was going to make this a spreadsheet and try it with different weights on the various outcomes (probably 2^n-1) but that would be a lot more work and I'm not sure the results would be very interesting. If anyone does, let me know!

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