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Germany must make a tough decision. (Nate Silver, Day 24)

By Seth Burn | July 13, 2014 | Betting

First, I want to clear up a slight bug in the spreadsheet. In game 25 France played Switzerland. Nate backed Switzerland. After Costa Rica defeated Italy in game 24 Nate's stake on Switzerland would have gone up, but the line had moved and with the new line he kept his original stake. That led to a roughly 7k difference on the spreadsheet as I forgot to correct for the bet size not increasing. With the correction, after 62 games Nate stands at $535,399.

Now, let's talk about the 62nd game, Argentina vs. Netherlands. Netherlands had to make the same choice Germany has to make: to attack and leave fewer defenders to protect against a counterattack from Messi, or leave an extra man back and play a defensive game. Netherlands chose to play defense and that led to this:


It ended up being tied nil-nil after 120 minutes (which was the second straight nil-nil penalty shoot-out for Netherlands). Unfortunately, their luck vs. Costa Rica didn't repeat, partly due to their inability to sub Tim Krul in for penalty kicks. The fact is, Argentina were the better team and deserved to advance to face Germany.

Argentina have only scored two goals in the knockout round, but they've allowed none. They're comfortable playing in a defensive struggle. Is Germany? My guess is they'd prefer to play in a more open game and will risk giving Argentina a few good scoring chances in return for the advantage of playing with an additional attacker. Their offense is partially based on"threat density" and having multiple options for receiving a pass in the attacking zone. That they were able to dominate offensively while only allowing two goals (and none in before already taking control of the game) of the knockout round is impressive.

Germany is the best team in the world. Argentina has the best  player in the world and have home continent advantage. Nate Silver has made his choice:

Game 64: Germany to win the World Cup, 9.72%: Risking $52,041 to win $36,139

You may have noticed that game 63 is missing. The 3/4 game is an abomination and is somehow less meaningful than the play-in games that have somehow become the "first round" of the NCAA Tournament.

Some interesting notes about Nate's wild ride sailing full-Kelly through the World Cup: Nate peaked at $940,835 after Costa Rica advanced vs. Greece. While he's currently up $435,399, he's down $405,436 over the past 10 games. If Argentina wins, Nate will finish with $483,358. If Germany wins? $571,538. Seems like destiny to me. 🙂

Seth Burn

@sethburn on Twitter

P.S. Some of you may remember my first post at Statsbomb:

Goldman Sachs is currently down $3,077,100. They currently have a bet against Argentina for $470,000 to win $100,000. However, as they have $6,452,900 left in their World Cup trading account, they could still put themselves in line for a 14% return if they were to invest all of that account on Germany. A bold gamble to be sure, and somewhat cynical. However, if you were a rogue trader who wanted to hide his losses?

Win or get bailed out.

That doesn't sound like Goldman Sachs, does it? 😉

Article by Seth Burn