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Is the World Cup so predictable?

Maybe not…according to what we have been witnessing.

Wired UK ran a piece of beautiful infographic (shown here in Flickr) a month before WC started with incredulous soothsaying ability (back then…) of how we are likely to see a final between Brazil and Serbia. It rang…

A country’s GDP is a better indicator of its chances in South Africa than its team’s formation.

and then, with some pristine logical and economical reasoning,

They found that, in almost three in four games, the outcome of a match can be correctly predicted by a formula based on the ratio between the two nations’ populations (bigger nations have a larger talent pool), GDP per head (the higher it is, the better the resources), experience (the more you play, the better you get), plus a constant to represent home advantage for the host nation.

Wow! The home advantage bit didn’t really work, hehe… Anyway, I looked around and behold, math!

Every match, i vs j, can be forecast by inputting population (pop), GDP per capital (y) and experience (exp) into a formula to give the unexpected goal difference (GD) or “edge”: GD(i,j) = 0.137 log (pop(i)/pop(j)) + 0.145 log (y(i)/y(j)) + 0.739 log (exp(i)/exp(j)) (+ 0.657 home advantage when South Africa play).

As of now, all that math have got only 5 of 8 teams that qualified for the last-16 or 62.5%, correct – US, England, Germany, Argentina & Korea Republic. It also predicted Germany to finished 2nd behind Serbia in their group (do a little recall, Serbia actually finished last), meeting England who topped their group (er, nope)! At least, they got this last-16 match “spot on”.

While I wait for the rest of the results to pour in the next 2 days, I’m still reeling from the Brazil-Serbia prediction.

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