With less than four months to go before the World Cup begins, speculation is heating up. It’s the biggest sporting event in the world and it captures the attention and imagination of fans all across the globe. It’s only natural that there are already various modes in place for simulating, predicting, and even playing out World Cup action.
If you’re looking for plausible predictions for the upcoming tournament, there are numerous online programs available that will predict outcomes and plot potential match-ups. The ESPN World Cup bracket simulator will predict Group Stages and fill out the knockout-phase bracket for you. However, Telegraph takes things a step further, and provides a program that not only lets fans pick group winners and runners-up, but also allows you to input a prediction for each individual match!
Later this spring we’ll have a report on available tabletop simulations, but in the meantime here is a breakdown of some console and pc gaming options:
The reliable EA Sports masterpiece FIFA 14 is the most obvious example, offering a console soccer experience that lets you play out any international scenario you could possibly imagine. Also, many have been pleasantly surprised by PES 2014 as a console alternative.
However, simpler options exist as well. Smartphone app markets are filled with soccer games of various degrees of sophistication and difficulty, and at the Betfair Arcade, you can even find World Cup-themed slot machines! In particular, the World Cup Heroes 2 game puts a playful spin on international soccer tournament action for those who like to get a gambling fix now and then.
While predicting the brackets and playing around with the various gaming options can be great fun for fans, many people like to get their hands on legitimate projections and simulations handled this close to the event. And in today’s sports world of advanced statistics and complex analytic programs, these simulations are growing more accurate than ever before.
One of the clearest examples of who to follow online is at Bloomberg Sports, where advanced analytic practices are used to determine each country’s chances of advancing through each level of the tournament. Here’s a look at how the Bloomberg Sports projections play out.
According to Bloomberg (and everyone else on planet Earth), Brazil has a 100% probability of advancing from Group A. Mexico is likeliest to come in second, at 43.6%. Croatia has a 38.3% chance to advance, with Cameroon the underdog at 18.1%. These projections are in line with popular opinion.
Neymar, Fred, Oscar, Hulk, Julio Cesar and this star studded squad looks to win a SIXTH World Cup trophy for the host Brazilians
Spain is first here with a 77% chance to advance. Netherlands is listed at 64.8%, Chile at 48%, and Australia at 10.2%, creating a similar dynamic to that which we see in Group A: a clear favorite; a battle between two for the second spot; and a clear bottom-dweller in Australia.
Group C is more closely contested, and could conceivably break just about any way. Colombia have a 71.4% chance to advance, and are followed by Greece (52.3%), Japan (40.1%), and Ivory Coast (36.1%). Colombia is a clear favorite, and perhaps one of the dark horse contenders in this World Cup. However, second place in this group is essentially a toss-up. Some might say Japan has a slight edge by virtue of being the last to play Colombia (the theory being that if Colombia has already clinched the group, they might not give Japan as difficult a match as they could).
Many people’s pick as the unofficial “Group of Death,” Group D is loaded with potential contenders. Italy is a slim favorite with 63.5% likelihood to advance, but England (62.4%) and Uruguay (62.1%) are essentially co-favorites. Costa Rica is given only a 12% chance to advance, but for a bottom team in a group they are very strong. They can struggle away from home, but were the only team to truly challenge the U.S. in qualifying. Still, this one will likely be decided between the top three.
France is given a 75.9% chance to advance in what looks to be the weakest group. Switzerland (49.4%) and Ecuador (47.8%) figure to battle for the second spot from Group E, while Honduras (26.9%) is unlikely to make much noise.
With a 93.8% chance to advance, Argentina is viewed as the almost-certain winner out of Group F. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Bosnia & Herzegovina are given a 43.7% chance to move on, with Nigeria (37.7%) and Iran (24.7%) rounding things out. Many see Nigeria as Africa’s strongest side in this World Cup, so don’t be surprised if they’re that second team out of Group F.
The other popular choice as the “Group of Death,” Group G does feature a clear favorite in Germany, who have an 80.9% chance of advancing. Portugal is second at 61.8%, with the United States at 30.3% and Ghana at 27%. The U.S. was seen by some as a team that could break through in this World Cup before the draw handed them such a tough task, but don’t give Portugal an automatic pass to the round of 16. Both the U.S. and Ghana are capable of pulling off a few great games in group play.
With an 84.2% chance to advance, Belgium is a heavy favorite in Group H, and another dark horse contender in the overall event. Russia (54.8%), South Korea (34.9%), and Algeria (26.1%) round out the group.
If projections for the group stages hold, and the top two teams advance in each group Bloomberg Sports predicts that the following teams will advance: Brazil (2-1 over Netherlands); Colombia (1-1 vs. England); France (2-1 over Bosnia); Germany (2-0 over Russia); Spain (1-0 over Mexico); Italy (1-1 vs. Greece); Belgium (1-1 vs. Portugal); and Argentina (2-1 over Switzerland).
If, again, the previous projections hold, the following outcomes for quarter-final matches are considered most likely: Brazil (2-1 over Colombia); Germany (2-1 over France); Spain (1-1 vs. Italy); Argentina (1-1 vs. Belgium).
The projections see Brazil beating Germany by a score of 2-1, and Spain getting by Argentina after a 1-1 regulation draw.
Brazil is projected to beat Spain 1-0 in the final. In terms of overall projection value, Brazil is also given a 22.1% chance to win the World Cup (just better than a 1 in 5 chance), while Spain is given a 9.2% chance. Interestingly enough, Argentina (11.4%) and Germany (12%) are both given better shots at the title overall. But once the match-ups play out, the simulation sees Spain reaching the final.
All in all, this is one of the most thorough simulations out there. As you go about whatever preparation you prefer for the World Cup, consider these predictions as perhaps the most accurate look at potential outcomes!