Iker Casillas is not having a good week. First he admits to reporters, “I don’t go to the gym, it doesn’t suit me.” and then this clip of him getting absolutely embarrassed by Diego Costa gets released. Costa is in the form of his life right now so it is not the worst thing in the world but still it seems like so long ago the Casillas was viewed as one of the greatest keepers in the world and now some believe he doesn’t deserve his starting spot on Real Madrid.
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:
Below is a chart showing how teams entered the World Cup Finals and how the final results moved them around:
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
It’s not very often you see a 4 goal performance in one match. Lewandowski was the most recently publicized 4 goal performance in the Champions League semi-finals against Madrid a couple of months back. So many keywords from that statement makes Lewandowski’s feat all the more impressive: “Champions League”, “semi-finals”, and “Madrid” are all impressive by themselves if a player was to score 4 goals. Put them all together and you have an incredible performance.
Fast forward to last night’s Confederations Cup match and you have a completely different story. One of the most lopsided matches in recent memory put Spain, the #1 ranked national team in the world, up against Tahiti, the #138 ranked national team in the world. Tahiti is ranked just below Turkmenistan and Burundi. Apparently Spain didn’t want to underestimate their opponent because they fielded their A minus team.
Here’s the goal line from the match:
Up 4-0 at halftime, Sergio Ramos was taken off for midfielder Jesus Navas. I guess they realized they could handle the Tahiti attack with 3 defenders (probably more like 2 defenders). Iniesta and Fabregas even made appearances as substitutes around the 70th minute. Spain was taking no chances against such a prolific opponent. So prolific, they were beaten 6-1 by Nigeria. (I wonder how many Suarez will score against Tahiti during the next match?) Of course, with the match being played in Brazil, Spain was not exactly a crowd favorite. Which explains the booing they received throughout the match – most notably when Mata tried to score on a bicycle kick while up 4-0.
As you can see from the scoreboard above, Fernando Torres put 4 past Tahiti as he played the entire match. He even missed a late penalty kick that would’ve given him 5 goals for the match. His miss, understandably so, was greeted by cheers from the Brazilian crowd. Torres just kept celebrating as if he was accomplishing something great. I’m assuming for someone who doesn’t score against equal opponents, he has to take what he can get. David Villa was a little less ecstatic in his celebrations following his 3 goals.
See for yourself from the highlights:
It’s not like many of them were that impressive either. Half of Spain’s goals became empty netters once the keeper came out and dove out of the way. Not to mention Spain was throwing 3-4 attackers down the middle of the Tahiti defense which was oftentimes consisting of 1-2 defenders. Spain knew they completely outclass their opponent and took advantage of it. However, is that the right thing to do? Keep the attacking pressure on while the score is 7, 8, or 9 to 0?
Then again, when this is your homeland:
can you really feel sorry for them?
While that is up for debate, one thing is for sure – How bad is Tahiti at futbol? So bad Fernando Torres can score 4 goals against them.