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Neymar is gone. Now what? (Nate Silver, Day 22)

By Seth Burn | July 8, 2014 | Betting

How to deal with injuries in sports is a very difficult problem. Teams need to be prepared for that eventually and have a replacement ready on the bench. One of the best football books I've ever read focuses on that issue:


Brazil is a deep and talented team, but they have just lost one of the few truly special talents in the world. His loss is difficult to quantify, but that is what markets are forced to do. Nate Silver decided to take a look at the loss of Neymar and this is what he came up with.

As such, I'll adjust his wager on the Brazil-Germany game accordingly. Let's take a brief look back at the two quarterfinals that set up the second semifinal.

In the early game, Gonzalo Higuain scored on shot off of a deflected pass. However, after Angel Di Maria went off due to injury, Argentina turtled (formed a defensive shell) and tried to keep Belgium off the board. They were mostly successful in denying Belgium good scoring opportunities:


Argentina did miss a few opportunities to put the game away, which did cause some stress on the sidelines.

However, in the end Belgium was denied. Argentina will move on to face the Netherlands who struggled against Costa Rica's offside trap.

Over the course of five games Costa Rica caught teams offsides 41 times, an absurdly high number. To put that in perspective Germany is currently in second place with 17.  Costa Rice put up impressive defensive performances against England and Greece (with 10 men), and was even more impressive against the Netherlands:


Costa Rica's keeper Keylor Navas was exceptional. Unfortunately, he was upstaged and outmatched by Tim Krul in the penalty shootout. Krul was aggressive and repeatedly predicted where Costa Rica would shoot. In the end, another favorite advanced (which made favorites 12-0 in the knockout round). That sets up an exceptional set of semifinals:

Game 61: Brazil to advance, 31.4%: Risking $242,337 to win $252,435

Game 62: Argentina to advance, 0.42%: Risking $2,224 to win $1,690 (It will be $4,302 to win $3,269 if Brazil wins)

After a good day Nate Silver is back at $771,775. A Brazil win will leave Nate above

However, I don't see that happening. Germany is the best team in the world, and frankly, I'm not sure it's close. Given Neymar's injury, Argentina is their greatest threat. The Netherlands would be a tough opponent as well. Frankly, any of these four teams can win. I'd suggest Brazil, even with their home field advantage, is clearly worse than Argentina and Germany. Maybe Germany will be given a questionable red card. Maybe Brazil will be given a questionable penalty kick. Barring that, Germany advances. In the second semifinal I'd suggest Argentina should be favored, but I wouldn't necessarily say they're above 55% to win. Unfortunately, I am going to be in transit tomorrow and I'm not sure I'll be able to give a write up before day 23. I'll do my best, particularly if I'm wrong and Brazil wins. After all, Nate crossing the Dr. Evil barrier would be something to celebrate. Alright, I'll leave off here. Enjoy the games.

Seth Burn

@sethburn on Twitter

Article by Seth Burn