Did You Know You Can Bet on Things That Aren’t Football? More 2014 FIFA World Cup

Here I give you the 32 teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, along with their current Elo Rating (and rank) and Sportsbook.com’s odds that they reach the championship match (as of Monday, December 23rd). My quick hits include the significant favoring of Brazil, the general favoring of South American teams (on their home continent), and the suffering of all the teams that found themselves in a tough group stage draw. Even so, I have, like, No Idea what Belgium is doing among the top five favorites. Their group is relatively soft (see here and also here for my prior thoughts on the group draw), but still… Belgium? France is also maybe too high, while I would say the United States is too low, but for being an American and knowing how we do and karma and all. (And also that whole “Group of Death” thing, I guess…) I also like Chile down there at 2,000/1, the 13th most favored. Yeah, they’ve got to get past Spain or Netherlands, but the same home-continent advantage counts here too, right?

And how about Greece, way down at 12,500/1? Elo’s 17th best team in the world, they’ve got a pretty favorable group, and while I can’t really see them knocking out Brazil, if they finish second in their group (say, behind Colombia) they wouldn’t have to, until the final at least. Even if there’s a small chance of them being the best European team, and even if the chance of the best European team making the final is small, don’t you think it’s better than 12,500/1? For example, if you thought the odds of Greece playing the best of the European teams was 1/100, and the odds of the best European team making the final to be 1/20, the odds should be 2,000/1. 12,500/1 is a much higher return! Quick everyone, bet on Greece before it’s too late! Or maybe hold off, and check out the odds for a bit:

Team Elo Rating (Dec 10) Elo Rating Rank (Dec 10) Sportsbook.com’s Odds to Reach Final (Dec 24)
Brazil 2,110 1 150
Argentina 1,994 4 200
Germany 2,060 3 250
Spain 2,082 2 325
Belgium 1,807 18 650
Colombia 1,912 6 1,000
France 1,855 12 1,100
Netherlands 1,979 5 1,250
England 1,906 7 1,250
Uruguay 1,898 9 1,250
Italy 1,887 11 1,250
Portugal 1,905 8 1,500
Chile 1,890 10 2,000
Russia 1,819 15 3,750
Switzerland 1,822 14 5,000
Ecuador 1,816 16 6,000
Mexico 1,784 22 6,500
Japan 1,747 25 7,000
Côte d’Ivoire 1,786 21 7,500
USA 1,841 13 8,000
Croatia 1,779 23 10,000
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1,758 24 10,500
Ghana 1,700 33 12,000
Greece 1,813 17 12,500
Nigeria 1,718 30 12,500
Korea Republic 1,672 42 20,000
Cameroon 1,593 56 30,000
Australia 1,711 32 32,500
Iran 1,719 29 50,000
Costa Rica 1,717 31 50,000
Honduras 1,664 44 50,000
Algeria 1,582 59 50,000

As for betting, I’ve mostly had my eye on the money lines of each team’s opening game. At the moment, I suspect there may be a few exploitable inefficiencies, perhaps due to the overvaluing of reputation and past tournament performance, which, theoretically, I feel have no relevant bearing on this edition’s outcome, featuring new coaches, players, even a first-time team (Bosnia-Herzegovina!1). Or I’m just wrong. One thing that’s a real b!#%^ in soccer (as opposed to football, and almost all other sports) is that teams tie, or draw,2 all the f^#%ing time because, I dunno, soccer I guess. My initial, cursory glance suggested that ten of the first 16 games would be favorable to bet on, but currently the model I’m using to predict game outcomes isn’t accounting for the possibilities of ties,3 so it’s completely worthless.

But I’m not getting down! It’s a start, alright? I’ve got a spreadsheet and everything.4 Also it’s Christmas now! Season’s greetings, everybody.5


  1. Well, technically. They were part of Yugoslavia back when Yugoslavia was a thing, and Yugoslavia played in some World Cups. But whatever. 
  2. Tie 
  3. Draws 
  4. I do love a good spreadsheet. 
  5. Did I (gasp) miss a day of posts? Well, not really. I had most of this ready to go last night, but my day today (or yesterday? The 24th is what I’m talking about?) involved hosting a Palestinian and Saudi (for Christmas) I know via an Egyptian, Chicago Union Station, the BNSF Metra line, the BNSF Metra line being delayed, checking the durability of a number of products at Sears before making a purchase, and Irish coffees. (Yes, in the plural, obviously.) So apologies, I’m a bit late. 
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