December 26, 2013

My 2014 forecast!

Occasionally, I get asked for my predictions for the upcoming year. I usually try to dodge doing that because forecasting the future is hard work and I'd just be embarrassingly wrong. But I do have one prediction: Brazil will win the soccer World Cup! 

You see, Brazilians like soccer, there are a lot of them, and the 2014 World Cup will be held in Brazil. Another forecast: If Brazil doesn't win, maybe Argentina will. Why? Argentina is near Brazil and Argentina even has a player whose name I know.

Unfortunately, people aren't really interested in that kind of prediction because it has already been done, as shown by the odds:

Latest 2014 World Cup Odds

LadbrokesPaddypowerBet365Bet VictorBetfredWilliam HillCoral
Brazil10/310/33/13/110/311/43/1
Argentina9/25/19/25/15/19/25/1
Germany11/211/211/211/25/111/26/1
Spain11/27/17/17/15/16/17/1
Belgium14/114/114/116/114/114/114/1
Colombia20/122/120/120/118/116/122/1
France20/120/116/122/116/120/118/1
Holland18/122/128/125/120/120/128/1
Uruguay25/125/125/128/120/133/128/1
Italy25/122/128/128/120/133/133/1
England33/125/133/133/120/133/128/1
Brazil are the early market leaders in the betting for the 2014 World Cup, for which they are hosts. Current World and European Champions, Argentina are second favourites ahead of Germany and holders Spain. The Netherlands, Italy and England were all handed tough draws and have drifted in the betting as a result, whilst favourable draws for Argentina, Belgium and Colombia saw them all shorten.

Seriously, the home hemisphere advantage appears to be a big deal in the World Cup: South American countries have won all seven World Cups played in the Americas and European countries have won 9 out of 10 World Cups played in Europe. (The two continental powers have split the World Cups played in South Africa and Japan/South Korea.)

Is it the fans cheering? Jet lag? Players getting out of shape during long steamship cruises? Early evenings under the watchful eye of the missus? Or just random luck? Does anybody know if this pattern that goes back to 1930 ought to continue?

40 comments:

MKP said...

Honestly, 7/1 odd on Spain to win it all is candy from a baby.

They've been so good for so long that it's become unpopular to pick them ... it's more fun to try to guess the next up-and-coming national side to explode upon the scene. But Spain won the 2012 European Championship, the 2010 World Cup before that, and the 2008 European Championship before that, and they have a proven system. At 7/1, you could do a lot worse.

Germany would be a better bet if Bastian was healthy.

Mountain Maven said...

Come on Steve some real predictions! J

Anonymous said...

I was hoping for a post in which you reiterate all of the depressing HBDish truths the rest of the world would rather not think about.

Daniel said...

For matches played in Latin America, one must seriously consider the potential for stones, missiles, bullets etc. being directed against opponents of the home team. This can be disconcerting, to say the least.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

One of the last remaining things we can be proud of as Americans is that, despite decades of entreaties, we don't give a rip about soccer for anyone but schoolkids.

It isn't much, way better to be like the Norwegians and keep out of the EU, but it is all we've got.

Nanonymous said...

I do have one prediction: Brazil will win the soccer World Cup!

How much do you want to bet? :-) The odds say that the chance of that is no more than 25%.

Re: Home advantage. Didn't you see this post from one of your favorite bloggers: http://freakonomics.com/2011/12/18/football-freakonomics-how-advantageous-is-home-field-advantage-and-why/ ?
1978 Cup was rigged for Argentina and it probably will be rigged somewhat for Brazil in 2014. Just imagine the mayhem if Brazil loses in 1/8th!

David Davenport said...

Both Mr. Sailer and Whiskey will find this article to be a deep gold mine for commentary:

My ‘orgy’ with Leonardo DiCaprio

By Maria Di Angelis December 23, 2013 | 10:06pm
...

It’s not every day you get a call from a casting director inviting you to audition for a Martin Scorsese film. But that’s what happened to me this spring. “It will involve some nudity,” the casting agent warned. “Martin has asked for you, personally, at least eight or nine times.”

My first reaction was: “I can’t do it! I’m not taking my clothes off! I’ve never even cursed on camera!” But then I thought about it: “This is Martin Scorsese. How can you say no?”

The first step was e-mailing pictures of my body to prove I was still in the right kind of shape. They wanted to see how my butt and legs looked. So I just grabbed my iPad and, partially dressed, struck an arrogant pose and clicked “Send.”

...

What calmed me down the most was having my hair and makeup done. Everyone was very professional. The hairdresser said: “How do you feel the sexiest? With your hair curly or straight?” I looked around and every other girl had their hair straight. “I want mine curly,” I replied.

Meanwhile, some of the younger women who were completely naked had fake hair glued to their nether regions. It’s a period piece — the early 1990s — and all of their real hair had been lasered off so they needed wigs down there to look authentic.

...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is follows soccer and understands the game at a high level would have realized the change in momentum at the international level from the Spanish to Brazilians in the confederations cups this past summer.

For the first time in about 5 years there was a team that was able to exert 90 minutes of high intensity pressure on the Spaniards. No other team over the past 5-6 years have been able to execute that strategy. It is too difficult, too risky, and requires players with high degree of skill to execute it as a team. The only other teams that have come close are the Germans and Dutch. Looks like the Brazilians have finally grown into a squad.

Just like the Gladwell full court press example from a few weeks ago, Brazil was able to execute the equivalent of the full court press on the Spanish.

It is the only high probability strategy that can work against their passing strategy and Brazil is the only team talented enough to do it. If you don't believe me, pull up the 2013 confederations cup video.

hanktheheretic said...

2014: America will be browner than it was last year.

Continue that for a couple of years until no one reads isteve anymore.

Or, it'll be different, because 2014 feels weird to me, maybe the 100 year anniversary of the 1st World War or something. I feel like something is burning in the oven, but America has convinced itself that our kitchen just smells that way all the time so no worries until the fire alarm goes off.

Dave Pinsen said...

Part of the reason is that Spain was handily beaten by Brazil this past summer, but I agree that Spain's odds shouldn't be that long,

Auntie Analogue said...


I predict that on 28 February 2014 Brazil will throw itself into Carnaval.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/heDR1arMWT4

What does Lonesome Jim have in common with Silver Lining Playbook? Both are insipid male fantasies that would have us believe that total loser clowns(or jerks) will be the love interest of some attractive woman.

In Lonesome Jim, it's utterly ludicrous because the woman seems normal.
In Silly Whining Playpuke, the excuse/conceit is that the girl is as, if not crazier, than the crazy guy. Exactly the sort of cute contrivance one would expect from a O'Russell(or Payne) movie.

So much foul-mouthed realism in the service of puerile fantasy.

And I guess Europe has Lars von Trier, who is art house version of Steven Spielberg. A 'wunderkind' director who, for all his pretensions, is a gimcrack-addicted boy who refuses to grow up. Ever. As horrible as post-Reservoir Tarantino.

Anonymous said...

Wall Street Wolf is really a weasel.

Anonymous said...

I predict that soccer will still be gay.

ben tillman said...

It's amusing to see that the 11 favorites include all 8 of the countries that have combined to win the 18 cups. And the top 3 have won 10 of the 18.

Anonymous said...

What are the odds important late stage games in the World Cup get decided by penalty shootout? Probably pretty high, which is absurd for a championship level event. It's like deciding the NBA Playoffs with free throw shootouts.

Dave Pinsen said...

"
Just like the Gladwell full court press example from a few weeks ago, Brazil was able to execute the equivalent of the full court press on the Spanish."


It was remarkable to watch. It brought to mind forechecking in hockey when I watched it, partly because it was pretty physical for soccer. `

DPG said...

It's remarkable that "home continent" seems to play such a large role. The smart play is to short Germany and go long Spain. Spain has beaten Germany every time they've faced each other the last few years, and the players haven't really changed.

I would take Brazil as the favorite, though. The home fans will galvanize them to be able to cope with Spain's long periods of possession. The Confed Cup final is really a clinic in how to beat Spain. Spain tries to possess all over the field, so the key is to win the ball off their weaker players: the defenders. Once the ball is in the midfield, you need to retreat. Real Madrid started doing this under Mourinho after a couple of embarrassing defeats, and they had some success before he left. Brazil probably has the athleticism to do it for 90 minutes. Do they have the discipline?

Anonymous said...

Climate would be part of it as would altitude.

South american football is less historically of a running game than european football.

This means that when a world cup is held in brazil, or mexico(altitude) the team who's style depletes them less in these conditions has an advantage.

Also 1930 very few teams from europe turned up and 1950 was little better

Simon in London said...

I predict that Liberal Democracy will not take hold in any Arab nation.
I predict there will be a major act of terrorism committed in the name of Islam.
I predict median living standards (income adjusted for purchasing power) will decline across Western nations, though there will be individual exceptions.

More iffily, I predict it will be another cold year, but the Man-Made Global Warming orthodoxy will weaken only slighty. Warming stopped ca 1998 and it's been cooling markedly since 2003, model predictions and reality have diverged wildly since 2007, but it's now clear AGW is not even weakly evidence-based, so most likely the current evidence/ideology disjunction will continue for X more years before a flip, probably around 2018-20, or perhaps when China GDP overtakes the US in the mid 2020s - ostensibly that's nothing to do with global warming, but it's the kind of event that tends to cause a flip. If not that, it will be a similar non-climate-related event that catalyses the flip.

BB 753 said...

Weather is one of the main actors favouring South American national teams.
It stands to reason that Northern Euro teams can´t deal with the moist heat as well as locals. Which rules out Germany, England and the Netherlands. Spaniards are more used to humidity (for instance, it can be pretty suffocating in Barcelona or Valencia during the summer), tough it´s nothing like tropical heat.
Another factor is that Euro teams have a much longer and moe demanding playing season. Brazilians hardly run with the ball. They saunter up and down the field dribllig the ball.
Brazil is the favourite.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the Confederations Cup final, Bayern Munich's 7-0 aggregate smackdown of Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals, who shares a lot of players and characteristics with Spain, has made analysts decidedly less confident in Spain's ability to retain their title.

wiseguy

Dave Pinsen said...

Aren't the best Brazilians playing in Europe?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I predict that soccer will still be gay."

I predict that in 2014 racist right-wingers will still hate soccer, a game where discipline, skill, teamwork, and middle-distance running - all qualities favoring white (or nearly so) teams - are most important.
Instead, they will worship American football, where where bulging fast-twitch muscles, very short-distance sprinting, and aggression - all qualities associated with West Africans, who dominate the sport - are most important for all but a few positions (QB, K, P, C).

Instead of dog-eat-dog capitalist soccer leagues where the weak teams are not given the choicest players, but are dropped from their league, these staunch Republican free-marketers will worship the socialist cartel known as the NFL, with its artificial parity, the policy of punishing winners with worst picks and rewarding losers with best picks, taxpayer-funded stadia, tax-exempt status, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:45 a.m., your comment and its final paragraph in particular show how ironic it is that, in America, "conservatives" are generally hostile to soccer, while yuppy cosmopolitans embrace it. It's actually doubly ironic, since soccer in the rest of the world is associated with the lower classes and not with hoiry-toity elitists.

While I myself happen to like American football better than soccer, I have to at least admit that soccer's structure should, in theory, appeal more to conservatives. This should be especially true for iSteve readers who are less likely to see "exceptional" America and it's sports as superior to "wimpy, socialist" Europe and its sports.

wiseguy

Matra said...

When the 1986 World Cup was won by Argentina in summer temperatures and at high elevation I don't think it really had much to do with weather conditions. Argentine kids didn't grow up in such conditions and three of the four semi-finalists were European, including West Germany and Belgium. In the US in 1994 again three of four semi-finalists were European and Brazil only won in a penalty shootout. Next year the tournament will be played in winter. OK Brasilia and Belo Horizonte will be roasting hot but one semi is in Sao Paulo and the final is in Rio - two coastal cities. In this age of sophisticated conditioning programmes with super fit players whose lives revolve around training I don't think weather will be a major factor.

In 2010 we were constantly reminded (by paid experts no less!) that no European country had ever won outside of Europe and that no host nation had ever failed to make it past the group stage. Well, the teams from Spain and South Africa made history. So I'll predict more history made in Brazil with a European winner. First choice Italy, second choice Spain. (PS that Confederations Cup loss to Brazil didn't matter much as few teams take the tournament as seriously as the hosts, especially a team coming off back to back Euro championships and a World Cup).

Dave Pinsen said...

"OK Brasilia and Belo Horizonte will be roasting hot but one semi is in Sao Paulo and the final is in Rio - two coastal cities."

None of those cities should be "roasting hot" in the antipodal winter. Brasilia and Belo Horizonte average in the high sixties in June and July; Sao Paulo and Rio average in the 70s. And the city of Sao Paulo isn't on the coast (though the state of Sao Paulo has a coastline).

Matra said...

None of those cities should be "roasting hot" in the antipodal winter.

I suppose 25 degrees celsius is not "roasting hot" to a southern Californian like Steve but any closer to 30 and it will be to a lot of European players. Though, as I said, I don't think it'll matter that much to the professionals who'll be playing.

An exception to the above might be England playing Italy in Manaus where the heat and humidity could be a problem, especially now that the organisers have switched it from a 9pm night match to 6pm to suit European TV.

And the city of Sao Paulo isn't on the coast (though the state of Sao Paulo has a coastline).

It's probably close enough - though close to 50 miles is more inland than I thought. More importantly it's quite southern.

Old Odd Jobs said...

"Current World and European Champions, Argentina are second favourites ahead of Germany and holders Spain."

This sentence makes no sense.....

Anonymous said...

Like the neutral zone trap in hockey, jamming the receiver at the line of scrimmage in football and the more physical full-court presses in basketball, the success or failure of the strategy depends on the officials' willingness to allow physical play. Of course, if you're in what is still socially a Third World country and making the wrong call against the home team results in mobs baying for your blood and an officialdom willing to turn the other way, you'd let a lot slide.

Anons 11:45 and 2:02, the Powers That Be in American soccer killed the sport from the beginning by bringing in the Chinaglias and Peles to the MLS instead of struggling through the building period with native-born players. I know it's a business and they want to make money, but MLB owners like Tom Yawkey operated at a loss for years, but that was back when professional sports team ownership was a rich guy's vanity bauble, not the Big Business, for-profit venture that it is today. If the owners weren't willing to operate at a loss for a while to build a league in a sport they allegedly loved, why should I care? I don't care to watch a bunch of guys, the ink on their citizenship papers still damp, "representing" my country, and I think a majority of Americans agree with me. And I pay WAY more attention to soccer than most Yanks; my brother and I watched soccer when the only place you could see it on TV was PBS (are you seeing the basic problem yet?)!

In America, we have four solid professional sports, two major auto racing circuits and a burgeoning lacrosse presence (driven in part by suburban folks looking at the low black participation as a plus for Junior's athletic aspirations). Yeah, I know how "superior" Formula 1 is to NASCAR and Indy racing, but we seem to muddle along with these inferior products. Funny how the American F1 champion Mario Andretti left F1 because, according to his comments, the technology lessened the impact of the driver's ability!

You can talk about American xenophobia all you want, but it's a fool's argument. Baseball is loaded with foreign talent; is there a more loved athlete in America than David "Big Papi" Ortiz? The NHL is rife with Northern Euros; are NHL fans shunning them?

And hey, we have our "boring" sport that no one else can understand: baseball. To me, there's nothing more exciting than a well-played, 1-0 baseball game. Most Euros would leave by the 3rd inning. Well, most Americans feel the same way about futbol, an attitude best summed up by the Simpsons in their well-loved soccer segment.

Richard Brown said...

Ex Sub Officer,
I like American's indifference to soccer. You could not pay me to watch a basketball game.

vive la difference!

Partial to a bit of gridiron, though.

Dave Pinsen said...

Being "quite southern" doesn't mean the same thing south of the equator - the further away from the equator in either direction, the further you get from tropical weather. São Paulo is subtropical, but the bigger issue will probably be its air quality, which is lousy.

Ronald K said...

In 2010 we were constantly reminded (by paid experts no less!) that no European country had ever won outside of Europe and that no host nation had ever failed to make it past the group stage. Well, the teams from Spain and South Africa made history. --Matra

South Africa is not in Europe, but is in a European time zone. Jet lag seems like a good answer.

Or maybe not… Remember that South America lies much farther east (yes, 'farther', not 'further'; look it up) than her conjoined twin. Their time difference is half that of ours. Recife is only ~17° west of Dakar in longitude, and the longitudinal gap between São Paulo and London is slightly less than that of San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Who told you no host ever made it to the second round? Host nations have won the Cup six times, and Europe's lone home loss, in 1958, saw host Sweden lose to Brazil in the final match.

Find a better source!

Matra said...

Ronald K:

Who told you no host ever made it to the second round? Host nations have won the Cup six times, and Europe's lone home loss, in 1958, saw host Sweden lose to Brazil in the final match.

Find a better source!


I said "no host nation had ever failed to make it past the group stage".

Dave Pinsen: Being "quite southern" doesn't mean the same thing south of the equator - the further away from the equator in either direction, the further you get from tropical weather.

Southern by Brazilian standards surely means it is less hot in winter than places closer to the equator, no?

Anonymous said...

"Anons 11:45 and 2:02, the Powers That Be in American soccer killed the sport from the beginning by bringing in the Chinaglias and Peles to the MLS instead of struggling through the building period with native-born players."

That was the original NASL, not MLS, and the original NASL didn't fail because they hired the likes of Pele or Chinaglia. If the original NASL had waited for native American talent to develop, they would have never gotten pro soccer off the ground in the USA in the first place, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Looking back further in time, the original ASL succeeded for a while in the 1920s with mostly native talent (and some Scottish imports) but still failed anyway for reasons that had nothing to do with whether their players were native or not.

In any case, MLS has had majority native US citizen players from day one.

"I know it's a business and they want to make money, but MLB owners like Tom Yawkey operated at a loss for years, but that was back when professional sports team ownership was a rich guy's vanity bauble, not the Big Business, for-profit venture that it is today. If the owners weren't willing to operate at a loss for a while to build a league in a sport they allegedly loved, why should I care? I don't care to watch a bunch of guys, the ink on their citizenship papers still damp, "representing" my country, and I think a majority of Americans agree with me."

The vast majority of USMNT players are native born Americans, not recent citizens. And they have been so for over 20 years now; the last time that one or two recently "minted" US citizens have been a major factor in the USMNT starting lineup was the 1990s. We have plenty of good home grown talent now.

In fact, the USMNT always have been majority native citizens - even the original USA entry in the 1930 World Cup was majority native US citizens.

"And I pay WAY more attention to soccer than most Yanks; my brother and I watched soccer when the only place you could see it on TV was PBS (are you seeing the basic problem yet?)!"

So you watched a couple of Soccer Made in Germany broadcasts on PBS back in the 1970s, and you consider yourself an "expert" in US soccer, in spite of the fact that you have demonstrated in your post, several times, that you know absolutely nothing about the history of US soccer and have obviously been paying absolutely zero attention to what has been going on in US soccer for the past 20-30 years! Yeah, you are a veritable fount of soccer wisdom, pal!

Anonymous said...

"One of the last remaining things we can be proud of as Americans is that, despite decades of entreaties, we don't give a rip about soccer for anyone but schoolkids."

Speak for yourself. If you are speaking for others, you are speaking for the older crowd who are still stuck in 1980s America, which no longer exists.

Soccer is big now; and it doesn't have anything to do with non-white immigration, either. Soccer is a huge sport in the 18-35 year old demographic, not just as a youth sport but as a spectator sport. Plenty of white hipsters and SWPL types (and yes conservative soccer mom/dad types) watching Premier League soccer every Saturday, and American TV networks are paying huge money for English language broadcast rights for top level soccer; ie without even including the Spanish language rights, it is still big money from the native white American audience.

It's not an immigrant thing (unless you count 3rd- or 4th- or 5th- generation white Americans rediscovering their European soccer roots); it really is a general, across the board change in tastes in the younger generation. Every four year World Cup cycle draws more fans in. It's not some kind of weird foreign thing anymore. It isn't 1980 anymore.

Anonymous said...

The socialist (a la Patty Hurst) brat bitch Prez. of Brazil now faces the daunting and supremely distasteful task of organizing a large scale "on the down low" campaign of "os desaparecidos" in order to guarantee that multi-culti clusterfuck Brazil will be perceived as safe enough for internatioanal (mssp. on purpose) soccer fans to feel safe in attending and lodging at the Brazilian soccer venues.

In other words she must orchestrate the aerial dumping of tons of chum over the South Atlantic Ocean gathered from the flavelas of metropolitan Brazil.

John Pershing

Anonymous said...

Is anyone more irritable than soccer nerds?

First, it was the Sixties, sport, and it was a weekly Sunday morning show from England. It seemed like Liverpool was on 3/4 of the time.

Second, you don't need to talk to me about the 20s. Being who I am and where I'm from, I know from Billy Gonsalves and Bert Patenaude. And their 1930 American World Cup team is STILL the highest-placing US side. For the men, anyway.

I seem to recall Kyle Rote Jr. being the first native-born player to win the NASL scoring championship--6 years after the league was founded! But I remember going to see the Boston Minutemen and the New England Tea Men back in the 70s to see the likes of Mick Flanagan and Eusebio, neither an American, along with a few native-born spear carriers, because I had friends who played soccer in high school and were fans, it was dirt cheap and there was fantastic tailgating at Schaefer Stadium, the old Patriots' field, with the dozens of attendees at every game...

But enough history; let's fast-forward to recent times. I've been to see the local MLS team, the Revolution. They're owned by Bob Kraft, the Patriots owner, and run by his son. The profits he makes with the Pats allows him to waste money on his vanity soccer team, but he thinks so much of them that in 2006, when the team was playing in the MLS championship game, he went to the Patriots regular season game instead! They play at Foxboro Stadium, and they close off the half of the place so it looks kinda full (well, less empty) on game day. And you know something? It's still dirt cheap ($15 for the cheap seats). This is progress? Perusing their current roster, as well as that of the coaches and celebrated players through their history, it's about 50/50 American to foreigner (with "natives" like AJ Soares, born in Italy), so it seems not much has changed, at least with the local pro team, in the past 30 years. And if you can't sell soccer in Boston, with its ecletic mix of suburban hausfraus and soccer-loving foreigners attracted by our generous welfare benefits, you can't sell it anywhere.

Telling story in the context of this blog entry's subject: I was at the game when the highly-touted (and subsequently untouted) Freddy Adu made his first appearance in Foxboro against the Revolution. He was physically used and abused by the Revs' hulking defensive midfielder, Shari Joseph, and didn't get a sniff of the ball, never mind the onion bag. Talented little strikers lose their genius when the officials lose the whistle.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anonymous said...

Belgium will be one of the most interesting sides to watch. They're a combination of Northern Europeans and the decedents of African immigrants. It's their "Golden Generation" of soccer players. Other than perhaps center back Vincent Kompany, they'd don't have any superstars, but have loads of depth and multiple top professionals at every position except for perhaps fullback (where Jan Vertonghen, a natural centerback, is often played out of position out of need).

Most of the other nations listed in the odds you posted would love the problem of deciding between placing Mingolet and Curtois between the posts. Goal keeper seems to be the equivalent of quarterback in that height and decision making highly prized.

Germany's Neuer is the world's best, with Italy's Buffon aging and Spain's Casillas no longer at the top of his game, but France's Lloris is the most interesting and interesting to watch. Unlike most football players, he comes from an upper class background growing up in Nice, the son of a lawyer and Monaco-based banker, who set aside tennis in his youth to focus on goalkeeping. He's 6'2" but rather slight of build, and is perhaps the most aggressive sweeper keeper playing (often coming of his goal line to clear balls played in behind his defense). Eccentric, daring, erratic and always right on the edge.

Chile are a very fun side to watch. Their side was reshaped by the aristocratic Argentinian manager Marcelo Bielsa prior to the last world cup, and their new manager has kept the same vision for their team. Columbia are also young and talented and have their best squad since World Cup '94, when an own goal saw them lose to the hosting United States and their captain, the player at blame, murdered upon his return (ESPN's The Two Carloses is a documentary about this and the drug money that fueled Colombian football in its 1990s heyday).

Chino Moreno said...

I hope you can still keep us updated for FIFA 2014 world cup odds

Cheers!