A Villainous Ref Emerges! (Nate Silver, Day 21)

Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo will take the blame. Either FIFA instructed him to not hand out any red cards (and by extension, as few yellow cards as possible), or an outside influence did, but either way he is going to take the fall. Twitter was ablaze with comments about his poor officiating all game. Brazil took advantage of it to rough up James Rodriguez. Eventually Colombia had enough and Juan Camilo Zuniga took Neymar down. I don't think Zuniga had any intention of doing this much damage to Neymar, but either way, Neymar is gone from the competition. 

Talking briefly about the game and not just the aftermath, Brazil dominated the first half and deserved their one-nil lead. They trusted their defense in the second half and were slightly lucky to score again on David Luiz's free kick. From that point on Colombia had the better of the play. They got within one on James Rodriguez's penalty kick, and threatened a few times following it. In the end, despite Brazil's first half dominance, the game was close:



In the semifinals, Brazil will face the best team in the world, Germany. Germany wasn't quite as dominant as you might expect given the scoreline:


However, part of that is due to the fact that Germany was playing with a lead and it was more important to them to deny France many good scoring chances, particularly in the second half. They succeeded.

All of that drama has left Nate Silver with $689,304. He'll be investing almost a third of it on Argentina:

Game 59: Argentina to advance, 31.25%: Risking $215,408 to win $123,090

Game 60: Costa Rica to advance, 5.00%: Risking $23,695 to win $94,779 (if Argentina advances, it will be $40,620 to win $162,479) The market has moved quite a bit overnight in Argentina's (and by extension, Nate Silver's) direction. I am highly skeptical as Argentina have looked mediocre (sans Messi) to me, while Belgium have been strong. As for Costa Rica, they are the clear underdogs in the field. I'd love to see them win the World Cup, but I expect their run to end here.

Enjoy the games today!

Seth Burn

@sethburn on twitter

Soccer Can Be Cruel (Nate Silver, Day 12)

A draw wouldn't have been exceptional for the Russians, but they could have lived with taking two points into their final game against Algeria. Nate Silver definitely could have lived with it, but alas, Divock Origi scored in the 88th minute. The goal was deserved, as Belgium had been dominating the play from the 80th minute onward. Now Belgium has advanced, while Russia doesn't entirely control their own destiny. True, a win vs. Algeria almost certainly sees them through, but it is possible for South Korea to advance with a win if they demolish Belgium and have better tiebreaks than Russia.

A win vs. Algeria won't necessarily be easy. The Desert Foxes played Belgium very tough, and thoroughly demolished South Korea. The 4-2 scoreline doesn't tell the whole story, as Les Fennecs mauled South Korea early, taking a three-nil lead, as well as the first 10 shots of the game. That South Korea was able to rally a bit is commendable, but they got their butts kicked and are now in dire straights. Algeria is very likely in with a draw, and has an outside shot of winning the group outright with a win. If they can maintain their level of play from the first two games against Russia, I like their chances of advancing to the next round.

Speaking of advancing to the next round, the Americans could almost taste it. They held a 2-1 lead in the 95th minute. Portugal had time for one more attack. Unfortunately for the Americans, it was a brilliant ball, leading to a perfect header to tie the game. It had been a back-and-forth game, with Portugal carrying the play early. Their first goal was the result of a defensive misplay, but they had been on the attack from the opening kickoff. After that goal the Americans regrouped and carried most of the play. They equalized on an rocket from Jermaine Jones to which Beto never reacted. The Yanks then took a lead on a deflection off of Clint Dempsey's abs. That lead held until Varela's header. Sigh. In a perfect world team USA would shake hands with the Germans, but that seems unlikely. Sure, if we can play them to a draw through 75 minutes they might ease up, but right now we have to assume America needs to earn at least a point. Of course, a Portugal-Ghana draw would eliminate both teams, and even a Portugal win puts America in pretty good shape to advance. The truth is, a draw was an excellent result for team USA, it just tastes like ash after leading in the 95th minute.

That result was good enough to give Nate Silver another positive day, finishing with $493,771. He was in real trouble, having lost the first two games, and trailing at halftime in the third. After that sweat, he now gets to deal with multiple event Kelly-staking, as we get our first taste of simultaneous futbol,  starting with group B:

Game 33: Australia +0.5 goals, 1.51%: Risking $6,845 to win $14,563

Game 34: Chile, 8.2%: Risking $39,878 to win $74,173 Followed by group A:

Game 35: Brazil, 31.18%: Risking $129,019 to win $21,933

Game 36: Croatia -0 goals (same as Draw no bet), 7.44%: Risking 22,890 to win 21,594

I'll update the stakes on group B if Australia or Chile manage to come through for Nate.