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.
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.
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.
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.
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).