No one expects the Dutch Inquisition. Spain certainly didn’t. After going up one-nil on a penalty kick (that should not have been awarded due to Costa initiating the contact), Spain had to feel pretty confident. A brilliant header from RVP tied the game at the half.

Early in the second half Arjen Robben was able to split two defenders and drill one home by unexpectedly going to his left. I should note that both of the first two Dutch goals were set up by brilliant long balls to the scoring players, as was the third. The fourth goal was caused by Casillas (the Spanish goalie) making a meal of a back pass.

At that point “Spain’s embarrassment is complete”, or so the commentators thought. What they didn’t foresee was that one more time Arjen Robben would reverse direction and go left with a ball in the box. Casillas was so shocked he was left lying on the ground, leaving an open net that Robben deposited the ball into. 5-1.

Spain's tiebreakers

Spain’s tiebreakers

At this point Spain’s tiebreakers are bollocks. If the Netherlands defeats Australia (more on them shortly), a draw against Chile would leave Spain in a very bad spot. That would mean a Chile-Netherlands draw would advance both participants. The Spain-Chile game is a must-win for Spain, and that will not be easy.

Chile is a tough squad, but I must confess I was impressed by Australia’s fighting spirit. After falling behind two-nil in the opening 15 minutes, Australia fought back and scored in the 35th. After that they kept the game close until Chile put it away with a goal in extra time. Australia’s opposition doesn’t get any easier with games against the Netherlands and Spain on deck.

After running out to a 2-1 lead in the first half (all three goals disallowed), Mexico was able to add a third goal in the 61st minute and hold on for a 3-1 (technically one-nil) victory over Cameroon. Brazil is next up for Mexico, but the key game is actually following against Croatia. They’ll need to deny Croatia a victory to ensure they’ll move on to the next round.

So, what did all this mean to Nate Silver? Well, The Dutch and Chilean victories more than offset Cameroon’s defeat, and he now stands tall with a bankroll of $149,917. Very nice work after a mere four games, which, coincidentally is what we have on tap today:

Game 5: Colombia, 3.45%: Risking $5,172 to win $4,707

Game 6: Costa Rica, 9.78%: Risking $15,122 to win $133,075 (Updated)

Game 7: England, 13.62%: Risking $39,185 to win $75,234 (Updated)

Game 8: Ivory Coast, 14.48%: Risking $35,985 to win $59,015 (Updated)

Now, some of you might be asking why the amount wagered on Ivory Coast is less than the amount wagered on England. Others might be asking the more pressing question of why Nate is wagering on England at all! The answer is that I am listing the amounts as if all previous bets were to lose, and then adding to the stakes as positive results come in. As for backing England, I say what a man does with his pounds and pence is his business.

Yesterday was a great day of futbol. Here’s to another one today.


Also In This Series:

Nate Silver Day 2
Nate Silver Day 1
Goldman Sachs

  • Amir

    Hello Nate,
    I really enjoy your articles about the SPI.
    Since the tactic of teams, and therefor the odds, will be impacted a lot by the standings, I suggest you to place all bets for matches 2 and 3 of each group simultaneously, that is 4 matches simultaneously, or even for adjacent groups in the draw (A-B, C-D, E-F, G-H), that is 8 matches simultaneously.
    In order to do that, you shouldn’t use exactly the Kelly Criteria, but something close to that:
    Even if you decide not to, you should still use the paper above, because match 3 of each group is played simultaneously…


    • Seth Burn

      Howdy Amir,

      Seth here (Nate publishes his projections at I will be using simultaneous Kelly-betting for the third games of each group. However, despite the legitimate concerns of strategic reaction to prior results for other teams in the group, I will be sticking with the current plan. The reason for that is that Nate isn’t including psychological effects for in group results in his projections. He is including slight Bayesian effects though. In any event I’m glad you are enjoying the series. 🙂

  • Matthias Kullowatz

    “Arjen Robben was able to split two defenders and drill one home by unexpectedly going to his left.”

    Haha, I would have thought the scouting report was out on him by now…

    Love the series; thanks again.

  • Mike

    Why betting CRC when 538 has them as a major underdog?

    • tknutso

      Because the betting market had URU as 1 goal favs, and it closed 68.5% on the outright moneyline. Value would have all been on Costa Rica.

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