Germany! Nap time! USA! Also, Tell the Lion He’s on in Five Minutes (Nate Silver, Day 6)

I think the statistics do a good job of telling the story of the Germany-Portugal game. Both teams had nine shots on goal. Germany had a few more tackles, Portugal had a few more fouls, and Germany had slightly more possession with 54% to 46% for Portugal. Pretty even all around. The only real difference is that Germany scored four goals, while Portugal had a player sent off for being a complete and utter idiot.

If you’ve seen Spain’s tiebreakers, you’ve got a pretty good idea what to expect for Portugal’s. Must be an Iberian thing. Moving on.

I’m sure there was a good scoring chance at some point in the Iran-Nigeria game, but I’ll be darned if I can remember it. Both teams will need to do better if they intend to advance. While Nigeria is a point ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a draw against them in their next game would put them in a tough spot. B&H is likely to defeat Iran, and even a draw against Argentina wouldn’t save Nigeria at that point. As for Iran, they’re up against Argentina next, so they probably won’t put up another clean sheet.

While I’m quite pleased at the result, I’m not sure what to make of the USA-Ghana game. The Yanks scored early, but were clearly outplayed for most of the game. Ghana’s offense was actually quite awful, only putting 8 of their 21 shots on goal (Yanks were 7 of 8). Ghana was able to equalize late, but the Yanks had as perfect a corner kick set play as you’ll see, with a perfect kick setting up a textbook header. It’s telling that despite what we saw today, Portugal are still clear favorites to pick up three points against the Americans. On the plus side, even a mere draw in that game would put team USA in an excellent spot to advance, even with a loss against Germany. Ghana is an awful spot, needing to get a good result against the Germans. Group G is going to get very interesting before we determine which team will join Germany in the next round.

Nate’s projections bounced back from their first negative day, responding to an 0-3 day with a 3-0 sweep. That ended up putting Nate back at $302,705, just $4,825 off his peak. With Brazil back in action, Nate will again be risking a significant portion of his bankroll.

Game 15: Algeria +0.5 goals, 9.00%: Risking $27,243 to win $68,109

Game 16: Brazil, 46.00%: Risking $126,712 to win $44,349

Game 17: South Korea +0.5 goals, 12.51%: Risking $18,609 to win $20,009

Brazil did not play well against Croatia, so it will behoove them to raise their level against Mexico. I expect them to do so, although I’m not quite as confident as Nate is.

This has been a great World Cup so far, and thankfully I don’t believe in jinxes. 🙂

No One Expects the Dutch Inquisition (Nate Silver, Day 3)

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

Goldman Sachs and the World Cup

Despite having over 700 billion dollars in assets under management, Goldman Sachs really isn’t that much different than you or me. They like to watch a good game of futbol over a pint. In fact, every four years they come out with their World Cup preview:

Included in their WCP is a table that lists the odds of each team winning the cup.

Now, you might be aware that there are wagering markets on the World Cup.

Whoa, are you ok? You must be an American. Here, have a sip of water. Relax, I fainted too when I first heard people actually wager on international sporting competitions. Feeling better? Good. Back to the wagering.

Because Goldman Sachs gave percentages for each team’s title chances, and because this guy was awesome, we can figure out how much they should wager on or against each team.


While that might work for most people (such as Nate Silver, whom I’ll get to in a bit), that won’t work for an animal as large as Goldman Sachs. As such, I gave Goldman Sachs a budget of $10,000,000 and estimated how much they could bet into the market without moving the lines so much that they are damaging their expected value. In some cases that was simply the maximum bet allowed on a line at a certain site, while in other cases I had to look at the market depth at multiple locations and use certain estimates as to how much more could be offered and filled at that price.

Without further ado, Goldman Sachs 2014 World Cup wagers:

Brazil to win: $3,130,000 to win $9,390,000

Iran to win: $5,000 to win $15,000,000

Netherlands to win: $145,000 to win $5,800,000


Japan not to win: $500,000 to win $2,400

Ivory Coast to not win: $540,000 to win $3,000

Mexico to not win: $504,000 to win $1,500

Columbia to not win: $540,000 to win $9,000

Chile to not win: $500,000 to win $8,000

Uruguay to not win: $720,000 to win $20,000

Argentina to not win: $470,000 to win $100,000

Spain to not win: $560,000 to win $80,000

England to not win: $732,000 to win $24,000

Italy to not win: $600,000 to win $20,000

France to not win: $550,000 to win $20,000

Portugal to not win: $504,000 to win $15,000

Between Brazil, Iran, and the Netherlands, Goldman Sachs gives themselves a 54.2% chance of winning outright. I find it highly amusing that their single best possible outcome is an Iran victory.

I promised I would come back to Nate Silver. I’ll write a separate post, but the short story is I am giving Nate $100,000 to invest in the World Cup, with the formulas provided by John Kelly, and the individual game odds from 538.

Spoiler alert: Nate is going to be investing over 52% of his bankroll game one on Brazil ($52,600 to win $17,884 on Brazil -0.5).

Good luck Nate!