A statistical review of the FIFA World Cup

A statistical review of the FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup in Russia has been running for about two weeks now. All of the title favourites have not yet shown their best side, but are nevertheless well on their way to the round of 16. But this won’t be a usual boring post about any half-facts about football.

No! The idea for this article arose while the company was looking for the best valuator of the tournament via the football betting game kicktipp.com. Right now the first six matchdays have been played, including 40 matches. This is how “Kicktipp” works:

  • You’re guessing an end result.
  • If you guess the winner of the match correctly, you’ll get 2 points.
  • There is an additional point for the correct goal difference and
  • an additional point if the end result is exactly your tip.
  • So in overall there is a maximum of 4 points per game.

40 matches á 4 points lead to a total of 160 possible points. Of course this is not reachable as there are crazy games such as the 5-0 from Russia against Saudi-Arabia or the 3-3 between Portugal and Spain. There is no way that you predicted that – and to win the Kicktipp-Tournament you should not try to do so.

But what is a good way to win?

Currently the best of 50 players has 66 of 160 possible points. Well, does not sound that good. To be honest not even close to being good. But is there a simple strategy that would have already earned more points? Answering this question goes hand in hand with limiting the number of possible strategies. The most common results are 1:0, 2:0 and 2-1. So we’ll focus on these three possibilities.

  1. The first try: Let’s say we do not care which teams are playing and we’re simply guessing a 1-0 for all “home” teams. These are the first-mentioned teams – but obviously not automatically at home in Russia. So there is nothing like a home advantage. If you had given this tip every time, you would have scored 43 points so far. Not much but still better than the worst 6 humans.
  2. Secondly 2-0 (39 points) and 2-1 (42 points) for the home-team and 0-1 (51 points), 0-2 (34 points) and 1-2 (52 points) for the away-team have been analysed. This is even better than the first guess. With 52 points you would have been better than 1/3 of all players – just by betting 1-2 all the time.
  3. What if we now take the favorites into account? To do so we are betting 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 for the team beeing favored by the odds.

None of 50 players was able to beat the system!

The result is incredible. If you had always said 2-1 for the favored team, you would have finished first with 68 points. Even better, you would have scored 1-0 for the favourite – 70 points. None of the 50 human players was able to predict the results better than a 1:0 or 2:1 for the stronger team. After listening to other betting gamers this does not seem to be a single case and also reminds a bit of the famous experiment between the monkey and the stock market players.

Guess at the end of the tournament we’ll review this article to analyse the whole data. See you then.

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