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Why not just watch the games for the love of the sport?


you mean why watch the best players in the world play not a mercenaries but as representatives for their country for relatively minor bonuses, despite risking injury, at essentially the highest level possible as opposed to, say, the workaday drudgery of mid-season baseball where the total number of games played over the course of the world cup will have an infinitesimal impact on the final season standings and will, one average, be played at a much lower level?


i can't imagine.


(Wilfrid, I'm trolling you. I think that they should play Canada's international rugby friendlies as opposed to NHL games, but c'est la vie)

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Compared to this?

no - it was Germany's ability to press in the midfield that gave them possession in a place where they could then depants the Bra Defense. Watch the first half hour - its really amazing.   The only

Overview of the different predictions: http://regressing.deadspin.com/heres-what-the-top-prediction-models-say-about-the-worl-1589841233/+reubenfb


While everyone has Brazil winning, there's some variance in how likely (21 - ~50%) as well as with the field outside the top contenders winning it (The Economist has it over 50%).


I'm not sure it's possible, but it'd be interesting to see them run their models against previous Cups.

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The favorite doesn't win very often. That's really the point. Not to mention that in games like the semis you see a lot of different teams.



You see the same four teams in 50 percent of semi-final games.


I don't know where I'd find the history of betting odds on the competition, but I'm reasonably confident the winner almost always comes from the four or five teams with the shortest odds.


So I can't see where the single game elimination factor is very important.

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There are about ten nations that could win any given year. Most years, you'd be safe to assume one of Brazil, Spain, Italy, Ned, Arg, Uruguay, France, England, Portugal, will win.


Germany, Germany.


But yes, the closest the result has been to an upset in living memory has been Spain winning in South Africa, and Spain--as you observe--are hardly outsiders. The only other teams outside the big four to have won in the last fifty years, were England and France, both very strong and both hosting the tournament.


AB: Obviously a team only has a chance of winning if it participates, but I see no reason why bottom-loading the older contests with yet more no-hopers would have affected the results. It's not like, had Belarus played in more tournaments, it would have won more.

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but I'm reasonably confident the winner almost always comes from the four or five teams with the shortest odds.

yes - and this still represents very high variance in a tournament with only 32 teams, and only 1 winner.


There are four teams in the semis - and there are 16 teams that make it into the single elimination knock out round.


If you think the round robin does a good job of finding the teams that are more than just qualifiers - then you've got 16 teams competing for 4 spots. four teams getting 50% of them doesn't represent a triumph of luck over skill.

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given that France won the Euros in '00 and appeared in the finals in '06 its a bit uncharitable to call their win in '98 some flukish outsiderness. Although Brazil were considered the better team coming in.


Also were they the finalists or third place team in '82?


Anyway their later success was a resulted of a concerted team development effort that began in the 80s

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Oh right, sorry. (But of course those four teams are the most skillful.)


Okay, I see the winner coming from the same four teams almost all the time as low variance, but never mind.


Brazil will win, and in the unlikely event Brazil doesn't win, Italy, Germany, or Argentina will. I'd bet on that, if the odds were interesting (but there's a good reason they aren't).

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yeah - but there's a difference between what's basically a random outcome between the top 5-6 countries in the world and statistics having predictive power.


This conversation began because Silver's model gives Brazil something like a 46% chance of winning. I think you'd probably agree with me that you'd want the odds to reflect something closer to 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 before you'd put money on it.

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