World Cup 2018: is football a game to guess or a game to love?

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The FIFA World Cup tournament will start soon in Russia, that will host 32 national teams competing for the world title! One of them is Portugal, playing in group B along with Iran and two Mediterranean fellow nations, Spain and Morocco.

By this time, football fans are already choosing their favorites and journalists, finding the right arguments to sustain the preferred candidates. Football is also a fun game outside the field, you see? Just because you start guessing which teams will survive the group phase and the ones who will reach the final. In previous editions we even have witnessed an attempt to upgrade this guessing game to a “zoological” level: animals predicting winners, like Paul, the octopus, swimming into one of two national flags and Zella, the elephant, picking up a ball with her delicate trunk.

If I were to follow common sense and general opinion I would say that Germany’s team will win, because they are currently title holders and a very physical team, hard to beat that. But don’t think that you’ll miss all the fun when you start analyzing data – statistics, odds, trends, facts and other curiosities can make this World Cup even more interesting! So if you still have doubts about Germany’s capabilities check the historical facts:

Germany is the national team with most presences in the World Cup final (8); the team who has scored the most goals in the last three World Cup series; the only UEFA team to win all their qualifiers with the best goal difference (+39), and with Joachim Low as coach, Germany has reached the semi-finals in the last 6 major competitions (Euro and World Cup). Wow!

And for those who bet money, what do they think? After analyzing the betting trend the conclusion is that the World Cup champion will be… Germany! Well, no surprises here. According to punters, Germany has 26% chances of winning the Wold Cup, France 25% and Brazil 20% (Portugal has 5%). But bookmakers have a slightly different opinion, as they pay about the same price for Germany’s victory or Brazil one. Sportytrader, a company which develops predicting tools and data models on sport events, elects Spain as the winner and Portugal to reach the quarter-finals.

If you also think that besides fun you can make some money too, there are odds available on world cup events like, who will be the world champion, the winner of each group, the winner of each match, or which player is going to be the best scorer. Did you know that the investment of sporting bets is estimated in around 17.000.000.000€? And that 7% of bookmakers recorded bets are about the FIFA’s World Cup final match?

What about the best scorer? Inevitably, three names pop out: Messi, Neymar and the player directly responsible for the most goals (18) in the UEFA Qualifiers: 15 goals and 3 assists, Cristiano Ronaldo! But other names might come up without surprise such as Griezmann, Timo Werner, Lukaku, Morata, Harry Kane and Lewandowski. You must have in mind that being the best scorer depends a lot on how far will his team go.

Let’s now switch to very improbable endings. Did you know that if you bet 1000€ on Saudit Arabia or Panama, you can become millionaire? But maybe you shouldn’t because until now, World Cups were won by European and south american teams. Also, do not bet on a south american team becoming world champion without red cards, since the top three teams with most red cards in the history of this competition are Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

Did you know that Iceland is the country with the smallest population to ever compete at a World Cup, with 334,000 residents? If most of Iceland supporters travel to Russia, their beautiful island will be almost empty! Speaking of population, one thing is for sure, if Portugal wins the 2018 World Cup it would be great to our shy demographics. Do you know what I mean? Check here 🙂

Pedro Marques
Over 16 years of experience in Business Intelligence & Analytics projects and a master degree in Decision Supporting Systems, I’m always committed in adding value to every organization I work with. I care about the world and believe that past data provides insight to enhance our children's future, that's why evangelizing about Analytics is the only thing I allow myself to do every Sunday morning besides playing with my son.
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