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Road to South Africa 5

June 14th, 2009 · 13 Comments

Asia finishes its group stages in a couple of days and Africa plays more matches in a week, but the rest of the world waits until August (South America until September).

An important note: Iran plays an absolutely critical World Cup qualifier at South Korea in their final Group Stage match. A draw between Saudi Arabia and North Korea and a win for Iran puts Iran into the World Cup. There are of course all sorts of other possibilities for them once you bring the playoff into things. I mention this because the system simply isn’t sophisticated enough to assess the strength of South Korea for what is, for them, an irrelevant match. In a critical match, they would be substantial favorites at home against the Iranians, but the recent 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia suggests that even with most of their first string involved, taking the meaning out of the game can affect how the team plays. The chances below assume South Korea is as strong as they would be if the game actually mattered to them. Adjust your opinions accordingly.

The full qualification chances for each team can be found here.

The updated National Team Rankings (through the Confed Cup games today) can be found here.

England’s (Still) Dreaming

England = 99.83%. While England was on the very cusp of wrapping this thing up, their 6-0 home beatdown of Andorra doesn’t really advance the cause any since the system all but assumed that was going to happen anyway. A home win against Croatia on September 9th would officially (almost) wrap it up for them, I’m not sure whether or not a home draw (which would clinch their finishing ahead of Croatia) would do it as far as my system is concerned. The Ukraine does have a remaining schedule that is theoretically runnable. In any case, an epic collapse is the only thing that will keep them out.

Nudging Up

Ecuador = 23.82%; Russia = 65.44%; Serbia = 79.66%; Saudi Arabia = 74.45%; Chile = 98.46%. While Ecuador remains unbeaten at home in qualification, they did only get draws against Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. So the 2-0 win over Argentina is still huge for them. That said, a big home field advantage like theirs also implies a big road field disadvantage and three of their last four are on the road. Russia and Serbia are very much a matched pair in that both have basically assured themselves of at least second place, but both face a very stiff opponent in the battle for first and automatic qualification. Each did a nice job with convincing road wins. The percentage for the Saudis is probably high, as noted above, but you still have to like their position the best of the three countries. A win at home against North Korea send them to South Africa next summer. The Chileans are in a golden spot now, with a win against Venezuela likely enough to see them through even should they lose out from there. They missed at least a playoff only 23 times in 10,000 sims.

Nudging Down

Uruguay = 38.79%; Switzerland = 56.30%; Argentina = 92.32%; Finland = 0.08%; Iran = 30.39%. While the draw in Venezuela really wasn’t that bad, the other results (in particular Ecuador’s win but also Chile’s continued rise) did not break in a favorable fashion for them. The chances of qualifying directly are rapidly declining and they still have lots of work to do to make a playoof, and then not necessarily an easy time in that playoff. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you how Switzerland made the list, but it doesn’t appear to be a technical error. I think it’s just that potential playoff opponents appear to be getting stronger and with the small number of games, not too many teams dropped much. The Argentines are still fairly comfortably placed (one way or another), but they sure are making more work of this than it needs to be. Finland’s distant outside hopes imploded with their home loss against a team they need to catch. And Iran’s percentage is likely a little higher than that as explained above.

Now Entering the Match for Macedonia, Number 10, Duane Jones

Iceland = 0.00%. And the Zombie menace is officially defeated.

And Joining Iceland

Wales and Qatar = 0.00%. The Qataris actually are now finished with their matches and are officially out. Wales did make 2nd place four times in the sims, but were worst 2nd once, and lost the playoff the other three times. Russia’s big win over Finland means they’re done. In fact all of the teams on the British Isles (hope that doesn’t offend) other than England now combine to slightly less than 50%, with Ireland still in the best shape of them.

Free Bird

Never let it be said I don’t do requests. Of the teams seeded ahead of the USA using the current formula (Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands (no chance, obviously), Portugal, Spain, Turkey) 6 or more of those 12 teams failed to make the final 32 teams only 14 times in 10,000 tries. The USA did qualify all 14 of those times. First off Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain and England all are in or all but in. Germany, Italy and Argentina are also all well placed still, and I still am optimistic about Mexico and France’s chances. The others have no doubt put themselves in a bit of a bind, but it’s going to be real hard to find three more teams from the group to all screw up at the same time. Put this one in the massively unlikely pile.

Data Dump

And here’s a the data broken down by group, with additional data about the playoff results.

CONMEBOL                       Percent
Brazil                         100.00%
Chile                           96.94%
Paraguay                        94.80%
Argentina                       78.34%
Uruguay                         18.25%
Ecuador                          9.30%
Colombia                         2.09%
Venezuela                        0.28%
Bolivia                          0.00%
Peru                             0.00%

CONCACAF                       Percent
USA                             93.50%
Costa Rica                      91.36%
Mexico                          66.94%
Honduras                        46.60%
El Salvador                      1.38%
Trinidad and Tobago              0.22%

CAF - Group1                   Percent
Gabon                           50.31%
Morocco                         23.96%
Cameroon                        19.69%
Togo                             6.04%

CAF - Group2                   Percent
Tunisia                         53.19%
Nigeria                         46.27%
Mozambique                       0.37%
Kenya                            0.17%

CAF - Group 3                  Percent
Algeria                         35.40%
Zambia                          32.49%
Egypt                           30.21%
Rwanda                           1.90%

CAF - Group 4                  Percent
Ghana                           94.21%
Mali                             3.48%
Benin                            2.06%
Sudan                            0.25%

CAF - Group 5                  Percent
Côte d'Ivoire                   94.63%
Burkina Faso                     5.00%
Guinea                           0.37%
Malawi                           0.00%

AFC - Group A                  Percent
Australia                      100.00%
Japan                          100.00%
Bahrain                          0.00%
Qatar                            0.00%
Uzbekistan                       0.00%

AFC - Group B                  Percent
Korea Republic                 100.00%
Saudi Arabia                    57.59%
Korea DPR                       36.09%
Iran                             6.32%
United Arab Emirates             0.00%

UEFA - Group 1                 Percent
Denmark                         93.87%
Portugal                         3.14%
Sweden                           1.93%
Hungary                          1.06%
Albania                          0.00%
Malta                            0.00%

UEFA - Group 2                 Percent
Greece                          57.15%
Switzerland                     38.96%
Israel                           3.88%
Latvia                           0.01%
Luxembourg                       0.00%
Moldova                          0.00%

UEFA - Group 3                 Percent
Slovakia                        62.53%
Czech Republic                  18.17%
Poland                          12.72%
Northern Ireland                 3.41%
Slovenia                         3.17%
San Marino                       0.00%

UEFA - Group 4                 Percent
Germany                         77.54%
Russia                          22.46%
Azerbaijan                       0.00%
Finland                          0.00%
Liechtenstein                    0.00%
Wales                            0.00%

UEFA - Group 5                 Percent
Spain                           99.82%
Bosnia-Herzegovina               0.18%
Armenia                          0.00%
Belgium                          0.00%
Estonia                          0.00%
Turkey                           0.00%

UEFA - Group 6                 Percent
England                         99.60%
Croatia                          0.22%
Ukraine                          0.18%
Andorra                          0.00%
Belarus                          0.00%
Kazakhstan                       0.00%

UEFA - Group 7                 Percent
Serbia                          56.88%
France                          43.07%
Romania                          0.04%
Austria                          0.01%
Faroe Islands                    0.00%
Lithuania                        0.00%

UEFA - Group 8                 Percent
Italy                           89.57%
Ireland Republic                 9.38%
Bulgaria                         1.05%
Cyprus                           0.00%
Georgia                          0.00%
Montenegro                       0.00%

UEFA - Group 9                 Percent
Netherlands                    100.00%
Iceland                          0.00%
Macedonia FYR                    0.00%
Norway                           0.00%
Scotland                         0.00%

UEFA - Playoffs                Percent
Russia                          42.98%
France                          40.88%
Ukraine                         27.41%
Croatia                         26.06%
Portugal                        25.99%
Ireland Republic                24.83%
Serbia                          22.78%
Greece                          21.57%
Czech Republic                  18.87%
Turkey                          18.77%
Germany                         17.39%
Switzerland                     17.34%
Sweden                          14.24%
Bosnia-Herzegovina              12.77%
Poland                          11.95%
Scotland                         9.87%
Norway                           7.06%
Italy                            6.89%
Israel                           6.21%
Bulgaria                         5.80%
Slovakia                         5.70%
Hungary                          4.45%
Denmark                          3.07%
Slovenia                         1.69%
Northern Ireland                 1.60%
Belarus                          1.34%
Romania                          1.18%
Macedonia FYR                    0.57%
England                          0.23%
Spain                            0.15%
Montenegro                       0.11%
Finland                          0.08%
Belgium                          0.05%
Austria                          0.04%
Latvia                           0.04%
Lithuania                        0.04%

AFC/OFC - Playoffs             Percent
Iran                            24.07%
Bahrain                         20.13%
New Zealand                     19.39%
Saudi Arabia                    16.86%
Korea DPR                       11.96%
Uzbekistan                       7.59%

CONMEBOL/CONCACAF - Playoffs   Percent
Uruguay                         20.54%
Mexico                          16.16%
Honduras                        16.10%
Ecuador                         14.52%
Argentina                       13.98%
Colombia                         6.58%
USA                              3.20%
Costa Rica                       2.91%
Paraguay                         2.58%
Chile                            1.52%
El Salvador                      0.91%
Venezuela                        0.85%
Trinidad and Tobago              0.14%
Bolivia                          0.01%
Brazil                           0.00%

UEFA - Playoff Losses          Percent
Bosnia-Herzegovina              45.06%
Ireland Republic                35.07%
Russia                          34.10%
Switzerland                     25.24%
Ukraine                         24.83%
Scotland                        23.03%
Serbia                          19.53%
Greece                          15.75%
Hungary                         15.51%
Turkey                          14.78%
Slovakia                        13.30%
France                          13.08%
Sweden                          12.65%
Israel                          12.48%
Croatia                         12.12%
Portugal                        11.61%
Poland                          11.09%
Bulgaria                        10.24%
Czech Republic                   8.78%
Norway                           8.26%
Slovenia                         7.01%
Northern Ireland                 6.29%
Belarus                          6.02%
Germany                          4.97%
Macedonia FYR                    2.70%
Italy                            2.29%
Denmark                          1.56%
Romania                          0.81%
Montenegro                       0.48%
Finland                          0.42%
Belgium                          0.25%
Austria                          0.21%
Lithuania                        0.18%
Latvia                           0.13%
England                          0.09%
Spain                            0.03%
Wales                            0.03%
Cyprus                           0.02%

AFC - Playoff Losses           Percent
Bahrain                         47.76%
Korea DPR                       18.94%
Uzbekistan                      15.39%
Saudi Arabia                     9.76%
Iran                             8.15%

AFC/OFC - Playoff Losses       Percent
New Zealand                     80.61%
Bahrain                          7.09%
Korea DPR                        5.51%
Saudi Arabia                     2.52%
Iran                             2.23%
Uzbekistan                       2.04%

CONMEBOL/CONCACAF-PlayoffLoss  Percent
Honduras                        30.56%
Ecuador                         15.40%
Mexico                          14.02%
Uruguay                         10.37%
El Salvador                      6.36%
Colombia                         5.60%
Costa Rica                       5.48%
Argentina                        3.38%
USA                              2.95%
Paraguay                         1.90%
Venezuela                        1.45%
Chile                            1.31%
Trinidad and Tobago              1.21%
Bolivia                          0.01%

Worst 2nd Place UEFA           Percent
Scotland                        25.20%
Norway                          13.87%
Ireland Republic                12.38%
Macedonia FYR                    9.44%
Portugal                         4.98%
Turkey                           4.68%
Poland                           4.22%
Czech Republic                   4.18%
Hungary                          3.51%
Bosnia-Herzegovina               2.88%
Slovakia                         2.39%
Sweden                           2.36%
Northern Ireland                 1.56%
Bulgaria                         1.38%
Slovenia                         1.37%
Croatia                          0.80%
France                           0.80%
Ukraine                          0.69%
Switzerland                      0.59%
Belgium                          0.56%
Israel                           0.47%
Belarus                          0.41%
Montenegro                       0.35%
Romania                          0.27%
Greece                           0.17%
Serbia                           0.15%
Italy                            0.13%
Denmark                          0.07%
Cyprus                           0.03%
Lithuania                        0.03%
Austria                          0.02%
Estonia                          0.02%
Finland                          0.01%
Latvia                           0.01%
Russia                           0.01%
Wales                            0.01%

A programming note, I won’t be predicting the Confed Cup, mostly because I’m not sure my system applies. Just what the teams participating hope to get out of this is unclear, whereas when it comes to the World Cup or the European Championships, winning is the undisputed bottom line. Wishy washy, I know, but it’s the way I feel.

The good news is I’m getting closer and closer to doing my first run of sims for the Big One in 2010. It’s always fun, and I might have been one ill-advised head butt from nailing it in 2006 (France were ever so slight favorites over Brazil in my sims that year).

Tags: Soccer!! · South Africa 2010 · Uncategorized

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 scaryice // Jun 14, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    A 1 in 714 chance of getting a seed…nice. Thanks for checking that.

    Seems to me like Russia is underrated in your odds. I think they have better than a 22% chance to win at home versus Germany, which should clinch the automatic spot.

  • 2 Voros // Jun 15, 2009 at 2:40 am

    The complicating factor is the road game Russia has left against Wales. Germany quite likely has 9 gimmes and the road match against Russia. On the other hand Russia has 6 gimmes the home match against Germany and the road match against Wales. Because of a goal differential problem, a draw in Wales may not be enough.

    The question is, with little to play for, will the Welsh roll over or will they try and contest things. In a competitive match, I don’t think Russia is a better than 50% chance of winning in Wales. It took an 81st minute goal just to get them the win in Moscow after all.

    Even if Azerbaijan wants to put up a struggle at home, the two teams are in the exact same boat on that score.

    Just to be complete, the system has the Germany at Russia game as:

    Russia wins: 42%
    Germany wins: 33%
    Draw: 25%

    And the Russia at Wales game as:

    Wales wins: 30%
    Russia wins: 40%
    Draw: 30%

    Obviously the system can’t guess at how Wales is going to approach things, but they won’t have been officially eliminated by then (though all but). It’s really hard to guess at these things.

  • 3 Ross // Jun 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Because I love being anal Voros, it’s “Ukraine and not “The Ukraine” anymore.

    If I was a betting man, I’d be heavily backing odds on Russia at those percentages. The Welsh team are very inconsistent and have gone backwards since challenging Germany and Russia earlier in the group.

    Plus, with a big Cardiff pitch, a young and unmotivated (not to mention, injury prone) Welsh team should get rolled over by Russia’s slick passing game.

  • 4 Voros // Jun 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Didn’t know that about Ukraine. I suppose “Ukraine” is the country and “the Ukraine” would be the general region then?

  • 5 Patrick // Jun 15, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Question about the seedings. Are the comments above based on the 2006 seeding criteria? If I remember correctly, prior to the 2006 announcement the USA looked like a potential top seed until it was announced that the seedings would be based (in full or large part) on performance in recent World Cups.

  • 6 Voros // Jun 16, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I’m pretty sure the 2006 criteria were the same as 2002. The US’ seeding potential was based on their good run in 2002 and their aberrantly high ranking. I’m assuming scaryice was using the same formula.

    FIFA can change it if they like, but probably won’t, at least not for 2010.

  • 7 simon // Jun 16, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    I copied and pasted it into spreadsheet form. no big deal, just a few lookups.


  • 8 Ross // Jun 17, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Nope, there’s no such thing as “The Ukraine” and there never has been!

  • 9 scaryice // Jun 17, 2009 at 4:55 am

    2006 seeding was changed, they only took the past two World Cups (1998, 2002) instead of the past three like they did in 2002. But the US was never going to get a seed either way.

  • 10 alex // Jun 17, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    2010 World Cup seeding is covered over at:
    (which incidentally uses the Voros qualification chances in part).

    Under “Most relevant posts”, look for “2010 FIFA World Cup seeding based on current standings, latest FIFA Ranking and qualification chances (3 June 2009).”

  • 11 Edgar // Jun 18, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I’m sure Voros was aware of it :)

  • 12 Edgar // Jul 1, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Hi Voros!

    Any chance to update the qualification chances to include the last matches played in the Asian and African qualifiers?


  • 13 Voros // Jul 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Yeah, I’m going to do that in the next couple of days. Been very busy of late, but I’ll have time during the holiday weekend.

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