Category: Brazil

Ronaldinho The Rapper

Imagine if he decides to come to MLS and gets signed by the Seattle Sounders? Him and Dempsey can release a mixtape together called “Joga Bonita.” That mixtape would be fire.* Also I have to admit this song is kind of catchy and Ronaldinho’s rapping isn’t that bad. Although to be honest I known absolutely no Portuguese so he could be speaking gibberish for all I know.

*Note: The mixtape would probably be awful.

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Post World Cup Rankings Update

With the close of the 2014 World Cup comes the ending of the biggest International Soccer competition until Russia in 2018.  This tournament caused the biggest movement of FIFA’s rankings until the next major tournament, so these rankings should be relatively stable until CONMEBOL’s Copa America (2015/2016) or UEFA’s Euro (2016).  Copa America and Euro will of course result in changes, but only for certain regional confederations, whereas the World Cup helps and/or hurts every FIFA team in the world.  Let’s get into these preliminary rankings, starting with the prediction for the new top 30:

Predicted rankings 14 July 2014
Predicted rankings 14 July 2014

Below is a chart showing how teams entered the World Cup Finals and how the final results moved them around:

Predicted Top 30 Changes
Predicted Top 30 Changes (ordered by pre-World Cup rankings)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Given that Spain, England and Italy were all bumped from the tournament in the Group Stage, Spain fared quite well only dropping to number 8.  Italy and England were not so lucky, falling to 18th and 25th respectively.  The impressive tournament performance by CONCACAF teams advancing to the knockout stage (Mexico, USA and Costa Rica) only allowed Costa Rica to move up from 28th to 23rd.  The United States dropped from 13th to 22nd and Mexico held at 20th. Those European teams that made it out of the Group Stage did quite well, especially the Netherlands (15th to 3rd), France (17th to 6th) and Belgium (11th to 5th).  Of course, these are all predictions using the FIFA Prognosis Tool (better than WebMD) and will be either blown out of the water or confirmed come Thursday when FIFA is set to release their next rankings update.  IF these predictions hold true, the highest ranked team that is not a member of UEFA or CONMEBOL is…Algeria, at 19th in the world.  I’ll bet nobody called that one.

 

Check in after FIFA releases their new rankings this Thursday for a comparison of FIFA using FIFA math and my attempt at using FIFA math.

FIFA Rankings Update

FIFA won’t be officially updating the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings until after the World Cup Finals are over (July 17th to be exact).  Here at the93rdminute, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with (approximate) updates to the World Rankings as the world progresses through the next four rounds of games.  You might be saying, “How on Earth can those brilliant minds at the93rdminute, my favorite soccer blog, know what the rankings will be?!?!?” and the answer is…math! We are using the FIFA Ranking Prognosis Tool, which can be found here. Essentially, the tool allows you to calculate your favorite national squad’s possible ranking points by inserting the results of recent matches.  For more on how the ranking points are determined, see here.

Below you can see the top 30 teams before the World Cup, with their estimated ranking points after the group stage.

As of 26 June 2014
As of 26 June 2014

The next image displays the newly ordered rankings, which has Colombia taking over first place and not surprisingly Spain falling off the top of the mountain.

As of 26 June 2014
As of 26 June 2014

There are a few surprises with how the math works out, like the USA dropping two spots and losing ranking points, Brazil barely staying in the top 10, and England and Italy plummeting.  Although Jürgen and the boys advanced to the knockout stage, they only managed a win against Ghana, the worst ranked team in the group.  A draw against Germany or a win against Portugal would have been a net gain of 50-100 ranking points, putting the Yanks near the top 10!  Math is crazy, I know.  Brazil played a relatively weak group (Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon ranked 20th, 18th, and 56th respectively) and didn’t exactly blow them all out of the water. As for England and Italy, they have had better group stage experiences that is for sure.

We will be updating this after every round (or more often) throughout the World Cup and see how it compares to the official rankings in a few weeks. Keep coming back to the93rdminute for all your FIFA-related mathematical skepticism!

World Cup Betting Odds

For you hardcore soccer fans who cannot wait until Friday’s World Cup draw, here’s a little fodder to feed your World Cup appetite until then. Once the World Cup field was finalized following Uruguay’s victory over Jordan, oddsmakers wasted no time in setting the initial lines for various World Cup-related bets. The folks at oddschecker.com were kind of to compile the betting lines from the most popular international betting websites (seen here). As I’m sure these lines will change after the groups are drawn on Friday, I’ll keep my comments brief.

Odds to Win

  • Brazil – 16:5
  • Germany – 5:1
  • Argentina – 11:2
  • Spain – 6:1
  • Belgium – 12:1

It comes as no surprise that Brazil, the host nation, winner of the 2013 Confederations Cup, and most successful country in World Cup history, is the early favorite to win the tournament. Soccer historians will note that a European team has never won a World Cup in South America, and it appear the oddsmakers have taken this into account. Interestingly enough, Spain is only given the fourth highest odds to win the World Cup, behind Germany and Argentina. I feel that I am as high on Belgium as anyone, and even I feel that 12:1 is too generous for them. Belgium’s last major tournament appearance came in South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, so none of their players, talented as they may be, have any experience playing at this stage. At 12:1 odds, I’d stay away from Belgium.

Other Notable Odds:

  • Mexico – 125:1
  • Chile – 33:1
  • Portugal – 28:1
  • Netherlands – 20:1

Now that Mexico has qualified for the World Cup, I believe 125:1 is a bargain for them. There are only about a dozen teams who are talented enough to realistically win the World Cup, and, despite their troubles during qualifying, Mexico is one of those teams, especially if Carlos Vela elects to suit up for El Tri in Brazil. If you are interested in taking a chance on a team to win outside of the favorites mentioned above, consider the next three bets. Chile is a sneakily good team lead by Alexis Sanchez who will be playing on their home continent and will earn a good payoff if they win the World Cup. Portugal, boasting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, seem to be underrated given their difficulties in qualifying, but Ronaldo is talented enough to carry Portugal deep into the tournament. Finally, the Netherlands seems like a great bet at 20:1. There are few teams as talented as them, and their players have experience advancing to the World Cup finals. The Netherlands strikes me as the bet with the most value of any team.

Player of the Tournament

  • Lionel Messi -10:1
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – 10:1
  • Franck Ribery – 16:1
  • Mesut Ozil – 16:1
  • Neymar – 16:1
  • Luis Suarez – 20:1
  • Andres Iniesta – 25:1
  • Sergio Aguero – 25:1
  • Robin Van Persie – 33:1

Looking at the list of player of the tournament candidates, Messi and Neymar jump out to me as the best bets. Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar are three of the best players in the world, are all extremely exciting, and capable of scoring goals. I think they are all likely to light up the tournament, but I see Argentina and Brazil making deeper runs into the tournament, which will propel Messi and Neymar to the forefront of the player of the tournament race. I’d personally steer clear of Ribery and Ozil at the odds listed above. I like Van Persie at 33:1, particularly if the Netherlands can pile on goals in the group stages and advance to the semi-finals in Brazil. I think Luis Suarez is primed for a big tournament so 20:1 seems fair to me for a player of his ability. Finally, I’m surprised Arjen Robben is not on the list. If he emerges as a candidate with 50+:1 odds, I would strongly consider betting on him. Also, look out for Oscar at 75+:1 odds.

Other Notable Odds

  • Germany to finish in the top three – 9:5
  • Brazil to win World Cup and Messi as Golden Boot – 33:1
  • Romelu Lukaku for Top Goalscorer – 28:1
  • Thomas Muller for Top Goalscorer – 25:1
  • Diego Costa for Top Goalscorer – 16:1
  • Luis Suarez for Top Goalscorer – 14:1

Unlike France or Italy, Germany consistently advances to the semi-finals of the World Cup and almost never flames out early in the group stages. Boasting one of their strongest teams in history, I like the 9:5 odds for Germany to finish in the top three. In one of the more obscure bets available, I believe the combination of Brazil winning the World Cup and Messi winning the Golden Boot is a steal at 33:1. Both events represent the most likely outcomes so 33:1 odds seems like strong value.

The remaining bets mentioned above relate to the top goalscorer of the tournament. I believe the four players listed above comprise the right combination of elements necessary to lead the tournament in scoring – capable of scoring many goals in the group stages, play for a team that will advance deep in the tournament, and are the team’s primary goalscoring threat. Lukaku is a risky pick, given his inexperience, but he seems like a prime candidate to break-out at the World Cup, and Belgium is a team that may score in bunches during the group stages if they are placed in a weaker group (which is likely since they are a seeded team). Muller has already scored many goals at the World Cup and is likely to be the main beneficiary of a potent German attack who has a history of lighting up the scoreboard at the World Cup. Costa is a unique selection since he has yet to play for Spain, but he could serve as the focal point of the Spanish national team in place of his aging teammate, David Villa, and his enigmatic compatriot, Fernando Torres. Costa fits the bill of a guy whose team it likely to advance far and of a player who will be supplied plenty of opportunities to score. Suarez, as mentioned above, is a supremely talented player who has experience in the World Cup and is the most prolific scorer not named Messi, Ronaldo, or Neymar so I like his odds as well.

Well, that is all for now. Hopefully, this satiates your World Cup appetite on Friday.

 

Ronaldinho Still Can’t be Stopped

Watch these two amazing free-kick goals from Ronaldinho he scored the other day. It is easy to forget how great Ronaldinho was in Europe and think he has flamed out since moving back to Brazil. However, these free-kick goals and several more like it from previous seasons show glimpses of how unstoppable Ronaldinho could be when he was at the top of his game in Europe/his international career.