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Monday, June 02, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread June, 2014

It’s go time!

June 12th Brazil v Croatia

June 13th Mexico v Cameroon, Spain v Holland, Chile v Australia

June 14th Colombia v Greece, Ivory Coast v Japan, Uruguay v Costa Rica, England v Italy

June 15th Switzerland v Ecuador, France v Honduras, Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina

June 16th Iran v Nigeria, Germany v Portugal, Ghana v USA

June 17th Brazil v Mexico, Belgium v Algeria, Russia v South Korea

June 18th Cameroon v Croatia, Australia v Holland, Spain v Chile

June 19th Colombia v Ivory Coast, Japan v Greece, Uruguay v England

June 20th Italy v Costa Rica, Switzerland v France, Honduras v Ecuador

June 21st Argentina v Iran, Nigeria vs Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany v Ghana

June 22nd USA v Portugal, Belgium v Russia, South Korea v Algeria

June 23rd Cameroon v Brazil, Croatia v Mexico, Australia v Spain, Holland v Chile

June 24th Greece v Ivory Coast, Japan v Colombia, Costa Rica v England, Italy v Uruguay

June 25th Ecuador v France, Honduras v Switzerland, Bosnia-Herzegovina v Iran, Nigeria v Argentina

June 26th Portugal v Ghana, USA v Germany, Algeria v Russia, South Korea v Belgium

June 28th Group A winner v Group B runner up, Group C winner v Group D runner up

June 29th Group B winner v Group A runner up, Group D winner v Group C runner up

June 30th Group E winner v Group F runner up, Group G winner v Group H runner up

 

Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: June 02, 2014 at 10:03 AM | 9133 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer, u-s-a u-s-a, world cup

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   8801. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:16 AM (#4747700)
Maybe it's just me, but I really am not seeing this. He has a very good argument for the best player at this WC, but it is far from obvious that he has been the best. I expect more from the GOAT.

Messi has been, over the last seven years the best player in the world by a HUGE margin. He's a transcendent talent who is miles better than any of the competition. And the competition is extraordinarily fierce. He's been Federer circa 2004-2008, except if Federer routinely beat the crap out of Nadal.

I barely considered his presence on the Argentine team during halftime of the game today, despite rooting for the Netherlands. To me, it seemed more important that the Netherlands generate something going forward. Messi was mostly contained (and as it turned out, was essentially a nonfactor in the second half). Now, of course it is one game only, but the main point stands: the GOAT should inspire more trepidation from the opposing side and the fans... games should be organized around his devastating impact.

I feel like the game today absolutely was organized around him. A big part of the reason the Dutch were so toothless is because they built their midfield around trying to contain him, no?

And there have been several other games at this tournament that went the same way: teams doing everything they could to neutralize Messi, producing rather meek attacks because of it. And in spite of being somewhat ineffectual at times given these approaches, he has conjured goals to win three games for them so far (Bosnia, Iran, Switzerland).

I'm not old enough to have been around for any of the other contenders, so all I can go on is old footage and anecdotes and the like. So it's possible I just don't have the right historical perspective to grasp how good those guys were, but...I have a hard time believing that anyone has ever been more dominant than Messi was from 2009-2012, give or take a couple years. During that period he averaged more than a goal per game (!)
   8802. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:21 AM (#4747704)
And there have been several other games at this tournament that went the same way: teams doing everything they could to neutralize Messi, producing rather meek attacks because of it. And in spite of being somewhat ineffectual at times given these approaches, he has conjured goals to win three games for them so far (Bosnia, Iran, Switzerland).


I think there's a fair amount of truth to this. He's the one player on Argentina that everyone else plans against... and he's still contributing.
   8803. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:34 AM (#4747711)

I think there's a fair amount of truth to this. He's the one player on Argentina that everyone else plans against... and he's still contributing.
This is fair but he is simply not dominating games the way one would expect a GOAT to do. Perhaps this is an outdated perspective, but in ALL other sports (save maybe baseball, which in its very essence prevents this) we still expect, and witness, a GOAT overcoming the stacking of the deck against them. Let's face it. The Netherlands are a good but not great team, that was able to almost play the "to-be-GOAT" to a standstill simply via basic tactics? I'm just not seeing it. The GOAT must be better than that or the entire moniker is meaningless. While it is true that Messi did contribute today it was surely nothing special. Immediately forgettable. Remember, this is the Dutch defense we are taking about, not some world-class unit.
   8804. Richard Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:35 AM (#4747712)
Maradona's contribution to Argentina's win in the 1986 WC and run to the final in 1990 far surpasses Messi's contribution in 2010 and 2014 (so far). That's the standard he needs to reach to be in the GOAT conversation.

I agree that Messi has been more dominant in domestic football, but that is partly a function of having better players around him.
   8805. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:38 AM (#4747713)
Once Messi gets the Bonds treatment (fouled every time he touches the ball in the opposing half) I will start to listen, despite non-performance.
   8806. Manny Coon Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:51 AM (#4747714)
This is fair but he is simply not dominating games the way one would expect a GOAT to do. Perhaps this is an outdated perspective, but in ALL other sports (save maybe baseball, which in its very essence prevents this) we still expect, and witness, a GOAT overcoming the stacking of the deck against them. Let's face it. The Netherlands are a good but not great team, that was able to almost play the "to-be-GOAT" to a standstill simply via basic tactics? I'm just not seeing it. The GOAT must be better than that or the entire moniker is meaningless. While it is true that Messi did contribute today it was surely nothing special. Immediately forgettable. Remember, this is the Dutch defense we are taking about, not some world-class unit.


I think it's just too hard to do that in soccer anymore now that defenses are more organized, more fit and teams, even the weaker ones, have more top bottom talent.

For comparison in basketball, Lebron as great as he is can't dominate the same way Bill Russell could despite being more skilled and more physically impressive, it's basically physically impossible to dominate defensively like Russell anymore, because everyone else out there is just so much better, you'd have to be 9 feet all and as athletic as Lebron to play defense like Russell in today's game. Lebron still dominates more than Messi but that is the nature of the two sports; Messi would likely be near unstoppable in a game of 5 on 5 soccer, although I'm sure he'd slow periods in that is well, I know I certainly saw Wayne Gretzky play plenty of unremarkable games.
   8807. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:55 AM (#4747715)
Maradona's contribution to Argentina's win in the 1986 WC and run to the final in 1990 far surpasses Messi's contribution in 2010 and 2014 (so far). That's the standard he needs to reach to be in the GOAT conversation.

I agree that Messi has been more dominant in domestic football, but that is partly a function of having better players around him.

If the standard is that you have to dominate a World Cup, then obviously Messi loses there. But...World Cups are rare and fairly random. And all his supporting talent keeps falling apart. Aguero is clearly injured and has been godawful. Di Maria was out today. Higuain is struggling. I just don't think it's possible for anyone, no matter how good they are, to truly dominate a football game without support.

And despite having basically nothing to work with, he's still scored a couple match-winners and set up another. It's not Maradona 86, but it's a heck of a lot more than Maradona 90.

And he absolutely did dominate the Champions League several years in a row, scoring a goal per game - many of them absolutely outrageous goals. Remember his goal against Real in the semifinals in 2011? The two years Barca won, Messi scored a boatload of goals in the knockout rounds. In 2009, he scored in the Champions League final, the Copa del Ray final, and IIRC scored two or three in that demolition of Real that sealed the title.

Perhaps we have to give a bunch of that credit to the Barca team. But while doing that, we also have to remember just how good the competition was for those games. FAR better than what some of the other contenders were regularly facing in their primes.

I'm not saying he IS the greatest. I think he's almost certainly not, and probably won't return to being so incandescently good. But it's getting close to the point where a serious argument could be made.
   8808. Richard Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:16 AM (#4747717)
There's nothing between us Baldrick. He's a superb player, but falls slightly short (so far) on the international front. He may improve his position yet, of course. He will be 31 for the 2018 tournament, which is still an age at which he can replicate what, say, a 30 year old Pele did in 1970.
   8809. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:38 AM (#4747722)
Messi has dominated domestically in Barcelona at a time when they and Real has laid waste to the rest of Spanish football. It's a bit like Henrik Larsson in Celtic, great but too much lopsided competition. This matters when comparing him to players who played in more evenly balanced leagues.
   8810. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:24 AM (#4747724)
Messi has dominated domestically in Barcelona at a time when they and Real has laid waste to the rest of Spanish football. It's a bit like Henrik Larsson in Celtic, great but too much lopsided competition. This matters when comparing him to players who played in more evenly balanced leagues.

People say that a lot, and obviously it's a top-heavy league. But Sevilla and Atletico have won four Europa/UEFA titles in the past seven or eight years. Bilbao has advanced far there. Sevilla, Valencia, and Villareal have all done well in the Champions League. I'm not at all convinced that the league was worse than other leagues.

And his goal-scoring rate only drops a tiny amount from La Liga to the Champions League, against the very best competition in the world.
   8811. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:58 AM (#4747729)
But how much of Messi is the product of always playing on an all-star team? Maybe Iniesta is the greatest ever instead?
   8812. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:37 AM (#4747736)
Hugo Lloris signed a new 5 year deal with Tottenham. That should end all the talk of him leaving.

I remain completely perplexed by what Barcelona are up to. I'd rather have Fabregas and Sanchez than Luis Suarez.

As for GOAT discussions. I like to do with sports what I do with my favorite writers and think of the very best as being part of a group that is foolish to try to parse between. Messi is definitely on the GOAT team but I'll leave it for people smarter than me to separate him from Pele or Cruyff or Beckenbauer or Di Stefano or Maradona, etc. More interesting for me is if Christiano Ronaldo is on the team.

Also, it appears I'm the only non-Argentine in the world who thought it was a good game yesterday. Fair enough. I was impressed by the organization and skill of the teams. I was REALLY impressed that in a game of that magnitude nobody pulled what I'm going to call a "David Luiz" and recklessly try to play the hero while sabotaging your team at the same time. I would say at least we don't have to hear any more about Van Gaal being a genius, but even his defeat is proof that he's a genius.
   8813. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:48 AM (#4747738)
I bet on Germany to win the final outright @ 2.30. And I hope that Müller doesn't score multiple goals and that Messi doesn't score a hat-trick (for my James bet).
   8814. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:19 AM (#4747748)
I agree with Robben that Argentina didn't deserve to win, neither did Holland.
   8815. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4747813)
I don't buy the argument that a player "needs to win a WC" in order to be the greatest. That's just a way of saying that the greatest ever must come from one of 6 countries. That can't be right.

As for dominance, soccer is very much a game in which your teammates count far more than in most sports. Messi dominates as much today as is possible given the playing conditions. As others have pointed out, opposing coaches design their game plan around stopping him, not Iniesta, not Xavi, not Pedro, not even Neymar.
   8816. puck Posted: July 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4747849)
   8817. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4747905)
It wasn't a terrible game, but I definitely wouldn't say good.


I had to listen to this game on the radio driving through the San Joaquin valley, and you wouldn't have thought this from JP Delacamera. That ###### spent so much time ######## about the quality of play that he couldn't be bothered to tell you what was happening most of the time. It gave me bad flashbacks to when they actually used to let him on the television during the World Cup.

I don't buy the argument that a player "needs to win a WC" in order to be the greatest.


I'm with you on this one, for so many reasons. It's basically "count the ringzzzzzz", the kind of argument that led a lot of people to believe that DiMaggio was a better player than Mays despite the obvious truth of the matter. Cruyff, for instance, has to be in any conversation about the greatest ever, and his Oranje sides couldn't get past a West Germany that was basically aping their tactics but with a more rounded squad.
   8818. PreservedFish Posted: July 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4747928)
Can someone explain this to me?

But Van Gaal struggled to find enough players to take the spot-kicks in São Paulo, which surprised him greatly.

“It should give you confidence. We took those penalties in an incredible way against Costa Rica,” Van Gaal said. “But the issue is you score the first one and I asked two players to take the first ball before ending up with Vlaar.

“I thought he was the best player on the pitch so should have a lot of confidence. It just goes to show it’s not easy scoring in a penalty shoot-out.


His top two choices begged off taking PKs? And then he chose Vlaar, not a usual PK guy, because he thought he would be confident?
   8819. Richard Posted: July 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4747930)
It is not a count the ringzzz argument. Maradona dominated the latter stages of the 1986 World Cup, the most important football tournament. This is still apparent if you watch the games now. Messi has not done this (yet). Messi's contribution in 2010 was also not as impressive as Maradona's in 1990 and arguably 1982. There is a clear difference between them at the highest international level. Same for Pele.

You don't need to win the WC to be in the conversation, but it helps that you have, rather than go down anonymously like Messi did in 2010. Still, he has done better this time and there is the final to come.

And Cruyff is in the conversation. Shame he didn't show up for 1978, instead of sulking. They could have used him.
   8820. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4747938)
I had to listen to this game on the radio driving through the San Joaquin valley, and you wouldn't have thought this from JP Delacamera. That ###### spent so much time ######## about the quality of play that he couldn't be bothered to tell you what was happening most of the time. It gave me bad flashbacks to when they actually used to let him on the television during the World Cup.
Eh, it wasn't so much quality of play, it's just that the entire game seemed to play out in midfield. Tactics and defensive quality were very strong, but that served to neutralize each team's attack and the result was not particularly exciting. I'm not usually a fan of penalties but last night they felt like a welcome reprieve.
   8821. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4747946)
FIFA has rejected the Suarez appeal, CAS awaits.
   8822. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4747951)
Maradona dominated the latter stages of the 1986 World Cup


The argument was the Messi had to win the World Cup. Winning a series of knock-out games involves a good deal of luck. Putting that aside, in Maradona's case it was Argentina, the full squad, which got there. Maradona played well, but the team got there with a good bit of luck and other good players.

The World Cup is no more meaningful than the World Series. The fact that Lou Gehrig performed better in the World Series than Ted Williams doesn't make Gehrig the greater player. Williams is in the conversation for GOAT. Gehrig (and nearly everyone else who has better WS stats than Ted) isn't.
   8823. zack Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4747955)
Maradona dominated the latter stages of the 1986 World Cup

I thought that was God?
   8824. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4747959)
Spurs news! Lots of rumblings that the club is working on a ground share for the 2016/17 season. That would mean the new stadium would be good to go for 2017/18. Get to White Hart Lane while you have the chance.
   8825. bunyon Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4747969)
Of course Maradona dominated the World Cup. He played with his hands. I keed. I keed.


As to Messi winning a WC this year and, thus, potentially laying claim to GOAT. If he wins the WC, it will be because Argentina advanced on penalties, hardly definitive proof of worth. The WC is a crapshoot in the later knockout stages. It's worse than the World Series or Super Bowl in that it comes around every 4 years.

   8826. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: July 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4747972)
The World Cup is no more meaningful than the World Series. The fact that Lou Gehrig performed better in the World Series than Ted Williams doesn't make Gehrig the greater player. Williams is in the conversation for GOAT. Gehrig (and nearly everyone else who has better WS stats than Ted) isn't.
Not sure about that analogy. The World Series is played by MLB teams, and even without interleague play (that is, when Gehrig or Williams would never have otherwise played against NL teams) talent distribution between the leagues was pretty even. The Champions League and overall distribution of talent has totally changed football, but back in the day when players mostly played against their own nationality professionally, there was a clear argument that the World Cup offered a higher level of competition compared to club football, which is part of why success there is such a huge part of say Pele's case for GOAT. I don't think that's true anymore, but the World Cup still seems more *different* to standard (or even tournie) club play, than the World Series is compared to a standard MLB game.
   8827. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4747988)
The Champions League and overall distribution of talent has totally changed football, but back in the day when players mostly played against their own nationality professionally, there was a clear argument that the World Cup offered a higher level of competition compared to club football, which is part of why success there is such a huge part of say Pele's case for GOAT. I don't think that's true anymore, but the World Cup still seems more *different* to standard (or even tournie) club play, than the World Series is compared to a standard MLB game.


I don't buy this argument, but I'll assume it's true. It's still the case that the WC gets played every 4 years, that nobody plays more than 7 games, and that no team has ever won 2 in row. That's an absurdly small sample size to judge a player.

Ryan Giggs played nearly 1000 games in his career, not a single one in the WC. His merit as a player has zero to do with the fact that Wales couldn't surround him with talent equivalent to Brazil.
   8828. Grunthos Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4747992)
His top two choices begged off taking PKs? And then he chose Vlaar, not a usual PK guy, because he thought he would be confident?

The conventional wisdom is that PK success is much more about focus than it is about skill. Since managers have no way to look at a player and decide how focused he is, or is likely to be, most of them substitute the player's expression of confidence as a proxy measure. Vlaar had just put in a man-of-the-match performance, was willing to go first, and is the captain of his club team, so from LVG's point of view this was probably a simple call.

How weird it is that the other two begged off depends on who they were. Without knowing the names, it's hard to speculate.
   8829. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4748001)
Brazil won 2 in a row, and 3 of 4.
   8830. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4748002)
Robben, Sneijder and Kuyt all took PKs. I would have to think one who begged off was Huntelaar (unless he was supposed to be taking the last one).

Fellaini cut his hair.
   8831. Grunthos Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4748006)
Not sure from that quote whether van Gaal had two players refuse to shoot entirely, or just refuse to shoot first. I took him to mean the latter, in which case Robben, Sneijder, and Kuyt are not off the hook for this question.
   8832. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4748010)
If it was who should take the first, then it has to be Sneijder and Robben.
   8833. PreservedFish Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4748012)
I feel like, in American sports, refusing to take the ball in a spot like that would be something like a death sentence for one's career. The whole explanation seems weird to me. Maybe a poor translation?

Robben took his penalty with the look of someone dealing with an annoying responsibility, like he was sorting through his junk mail or taking out the trash. Tough to believe that he would have begged off shooting first.
   8834. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4748015)
Why would Huntelaar beg off? He hit his penalty against Mexico without any problems.
   8835. PreservedFish Posted: July 10, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4748022)
Why would anyone?
   8836. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4748024)
If you're a trembling wreck, it's better to say so beforehand.
   8837. Grunthos Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4748026)
There are some legitimate reasons that could crop up... for example, if a player was nursing along a leg injury and didn't feel like he was going to be producing the best PK attempt for the team, or if he has been on the same team with the opposing goalie in the past and was concerned the goalie would know his personal tendencies. But I don't see any obvious rationale for the leading Dutch players in this case.
   8838. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4748027)
It seems if there had been an option to "go to kicks or play 10 more minutes" both teams would have taken the 10 minutes as both were closing in on scoring.

I don't know if Messi is the GOAT but he's certainly in the conversation, this WC performance doesn't push the needle either way IMO. He's been good and perhaps we've come to expect too much as the Dutch had him surrounded with 2-4 defenders at all times and while the refused to be beat by Messi they left themselves open on the wings when Messi was tucked in.

_______________

Apparently Yedlin to Roma isn't a done deal and now there are rumors out of Italy that Inter is getting involved. Hmm.
   8839. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4748034)
Brazil won 2 in a row


Yes, that was dumb of me. I came back to correct it, but you beat me to it.
   8840. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4748039)
Conversely, Pele never got to play at a megabastard club against other megabastard clubs in the CL, and that has zero to do with his merit as a player.
   8841. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4748040)
Jonathan Wilson says what I was saying, except smarter:
The Dutch changed shape to try to handle him, sitting Nigel de Jong and then Jordy Clasie deep almost as a man-marker, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder, playing much deeper than in previous games, forming a central triangle in midfield, the two-man shield looking to cut off the supply. With Ron Vlaar repeatedly stepping out of the back three to help De Jong, Messi often had a man on him and three men around him. Naturally, his influence was limited, but even then he was able to embark on a run in extra time that led to a cross that brought a volleyed chance for Maxi Rodríguez.

His greater significance, though, was arguably at the other end. Argentina, understandably, had been terrified of the pace of Arjen Robben running at their slow back four. Yet until his burst on to Sneijder’s flick in the final moments of normal time that brought a fine tackle from Javier Mascherano, Robben was barely a threat. The reason in part was surely that with Sneijder so much deeper, he was left a little isolated, with nobody to supply the through-balls on which he thrives.
   8842. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4748048)
Nate Silver does a chat, gets asked about the criticism of SPI, gives a very obnoxious answer:
Robert James How do you deal with the criticism you've been getting with SPI and its exposure during this World Cup? Does it drive you to improve the model or make you skeptical about heavy statistical analysis in soccer?
2 · Like · Reply · about an hour ago

FiveThirtyEight The criticism has mostly been coming from professional trolls who didn't like FiveThirtyEight to begin with and who are cherry-picking results. Brazil was a HUGE miss given the scoreline -- but SPI has "called" 13 of 14 games correctly in the knockout round so far, by contrast. We'd love to improve SPI by accounting for a wider variety of play-by-play data (time of possession, shots on target etc.), including more sophisticated handling of travel effects and home-field advantage, and other things. I'm not sure any of that would much have helped with the Brazil match, however.

I'm verging on just giving up on 538 at this point.
   8843. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4748050)
   8844. Grunthos Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4748060)
Those are more odds than ends. Not that this is a surprise to anyone.
   8845. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4748069)
That doesn't strike me as a particularly obnoxious answer. I would imagine that a great number of the people who criticize 538, at least the ones who penetrate Silver's defenses, are jackassy journalists who are on the same tip that Peggy Noonan was two years ago and Bill Plaschke before that.
   8846. Flynn Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4748071)
Are jackassy journalists paying attention to the World Cup? Most of the criticism I've seen has been from soccer fans wondering how Nate Silver's metrics think Brazil was more dominant than they were in 1970.
   8847. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4748072)
SPI has "called" 13 of 14 games correctly in the knockout round so far
This is not a particularly impressive feat.

I "called" 13 of 14 games correctly in the knockout round - that doesn't make me a genius, that makes me a guy who picked all the group winners to win in the second round, then the favorites in every game since.
   8848. Manny Coon Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4748088)
Most of the criticism I've seen has been from soccer fans wondering how Nate Silver's metrics think Brazil was more dominant than they were in 1970.


Brazil was really good at the Confed Cup; 3-0 Japan, 2-0 Mexico, 4-2 Italy, 2-1 Uruguay, 3-0 Spain. I wonder how heavily that performance skewed the system's perception of Brazil.
   8849. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4748090)
That doesn't strike me as a particularly obnoxious answer. I would imagine that a great number of the people who criticize 538, at least the ones who penetrate Silver's defenses, are jackassy journalists who are on the same tip that Peggy Noonan was two years ago and Bill Plaschke before that.

I understand why you would be frustrated at stupid criticisms from stupid people, but if you want to be BETTER than those people (which I very much feel like he ought to be), you need to be able to identify genuine and serious criticisms, not just group them in with the unserious ones. This response suggests he is unwilling or unable to do so. And that's really frustrating. I would LOVE for SPI or something like it to be better. I would love for more data to be involved in our coverage of the sport. I would love for there to be good arguments about where this information adds to our understanding and where it creates a false sense of certainty.

So far, I haven't seen anything to suggest that's what's going on. The Brazil thwomping was an ideal moment to write a post that said: "you know what, there were a lot of criticisms of our model making Brazil such huge favorites. Let's go through our assumptions and talk about why we thought they were so likely to do well. And maybe we need to re-assess not just whether Brazil was actually that good, but also our process that got us thinking that they were.'

They didn't do that. They just said 'yep, we got it wrong. Now let's talk about how unlikely it was!' And pointed out that that one single game shifted the scores of both Germany and Brazil by a HUGE margin. Without discussing whether it truly makes sense to so produce such a sensitive model that it can wildly shift based on one result. I mean, maybe it does make sense, but they haven't explained why. I would like to hear it.

Maybe this system really is better than the existing alternatives, and the Brazil result really was just a fluke. But pointing out that you got 13 of the 14 previous games right is obnoxious. The betting lines got that many right.
   8850. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4748097)
But pointing out that you got 13 of the 14 previous games right is obnoxious. The betting lines got that many right.


I haven't followed the whole SPI saga all that closely, but is it really reasonable to hold SPI to the standard of being better than the betting lines? After all, betting lines get to take into account every bit of data that SPI (or any objective system) uses, along with the results of SPI and every other objective system, and then add in tons more information from the subjective analysis of the oddsmakers and the collected preferences of the betting public. If SPI (or any system) was better than the betting lines that take into account SPI + much more, it would be a bizarre and presumably short-lived circumstance.

To me, SPI is a success if it is better (more predictive) than FIFA's ranking, ELO, and whatever other objective systems are out there. I haven't seen that sort of analysis done- has anyone else?
   8851. John Shade has yet to hear the Squeak Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4748119)
It is not a count the ringzzz argument. Maradona dominated the latter stages of the 1986 World Cup, the most important football tournament. This is still apparent if you watch the games now. Messi has not done this (yet). Messi's contribution in 2010 was also not as impressive as Maradona's in 1990 and arguably 1982. There is a clear difference between them at the highest international level. Same for Pele.
It doesn't really seem fair to discount Messi's domestic accomplishments because of the team he plays for and then hold up Pele's world cup accomplishments.

I generally think GOAT arguments are kind of stupid, and that's especially true of soccer. Comparing players across different times, different leagues, different cup competitions and different tactical eras is so imprecise that whatever answer you come up with will be wholly dependent on the criteria you choose. Messi has not had the type of world cup that Maradona had in 1986, but he's probably playing against a broader international talent base than Maradona did (and as bunyon points out, that run may never have happened without the missed call against England). Messi's domestic record is more impressive than Maradona's, but he never had the type of talent built around him that Messi did (and any evaluation is hampered by the fact that assists weren't even recorded as a stat for much of Maradona's career).

Messi's almost certainly the best attacking player of his generation. That gets him in the conversation for GOAT I guess.
   8852. John Shade has yet to hear the Squeak Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4748122)
And combining the two conversation threads, 538's take on Messi v. Maradona v. Pele.
   8853. Textbook Editor Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4748130)
Get to White Hart Lane while you have the chance.


What's the best way to do this? Do they play non-first team games at WHL that would be (in theory) cheaper/easier to attend?

I'd like to get TE Jr. and the family over to England at some point to take in some games and this would be a great incentive to do it in the next 2 years...



   8854. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4748140)
I would imagine FA, League Cup and Europa League games would be cheap, as long as it isn't against a big name opponent. Of course for FA and League Cup matches you'd have a lot less lead time for.
   8855. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4748144)
Perhaps it is unfair to hold SPI to the standard of the betting lines. However, Silver was making those comparisons himself, and before the Brazil game essentially saying that the betting lines were likely biased and thus exploitable by models such as SPI. I truly believe he was giddy off of the success of the recent small sample size and truly believed Brazil would dominate the game, thus "proving" him right. You reap what you sow.

FWIW, SPI has been outperformed by the betting lines in the knock-out stage so far. 13 out of 14 means almost nothing at this WC knock-out stage, because all the favorites (except Brazil) have won.
   8856. J. Sosa Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4748145)
Keith, if you are around, what do you think of the Markovic signing if it does come off? It is kind of pointless, but something I've been wondering is would you have rather have Sanchez for 30 or Markovic for 20? Sanchez is awesome, but Markovic for 20 seems like a really good deal to me. We'll see.

As for 538, I'm mostly staying out of that one as it is very difficult to have that particular discussion without delving heavily into politics. All I will say is that it does seem like Silver at times falls into the trap many analytics types in sports writing fall into, and that trap is question begging. This is a personal pet peeve of mine extending back many years, in some ways I find it more annoying than quotes about grit and determination and wanting it more, as at least from the quotes I might glean something I didn't know. But I'm not real clear on what it was that 538's World Cup coverage was offering me other than "hey, random variation, what r you gonna do."

There are many analytics friendly writers I do enjoy, one of Silver's coworkers for example. There was an extended period of time where I read Zach Lowe's stuff even though I didn't watch the NBA because I enjoyed his articles. 538 hasn't really held my attention thus far.

That's just my opinion, maybe the current version of 538 will evolve as time goes by.
   8857. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4748161)
Perhaps it is unfair to hold SPI to the standard of the betting lines. However, Silver was making those comparisons himself, and before the Brazil game essentially saying that the betting lines were likely biased and thus exploitable by models such as SPI. I truly believe he was giddy off of the success of the recent small sample size and truly believed Brazil would dominate the game, thus "proving" him right. You reap what you sow.


Are you referring to this article? If so,
The best way to test probabilistic forecasts is to check their calibration and to compare them against alternative probabilistic estimates. For example, if your model says that the U.S. has a 40 percent chance of beating Belgium and the consensus betting line gives the U.S. just a 25 percent chance instead, you should bet on the Americans — even though you expect Belgium to win most of the time. So far, the FiveThirtyEight forecasts have done well against consensus betting lines when used in this fashion — although that could reflect good luck, too.


... seems fairly modest to me.

As to the larger point, 538 has been pretty disappointing to me. I would say roughly 10% of the articles I've looked at have been genuinely strong, 50% "meh," and 40% flawed in very disappointing ways. This is not the thread to go into the details on the flaws though, as I generally feel like SPI has passed the smell test to me, particularly when judged against the FIFA and ELO ratings.
   8858. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:06 PM (#4748166)
Yeah, agreed that the Cup games are the cheapest/easiest way to see a game at the Lane. That will be midweek at night, though, and the schedule isn't set in advance the way PL fixtures are. FA Cup tix won't be as easy to come by as League and Europe, too.
   8859. Randy Jones Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4748168)
I generally feel like SPI has passed the smell test to me, particularly when judged against the FIFA and ELO ratings.

Sleeping in a dumpster is great, particularly when judged against sleeping in a septic tank or cesspool.
   8860. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4748185)
Sleeping in a dumpster is great, particularly when judged against sleeping in a septic tank or cesspool.


You joke, but that's actually true. Being the best objective system is valuable. Hell, that's how Nate made his career on the political side- he developed a pretty simple system that happened to be better than the garbage "analysis" you could find through Politico and the punditry, and it made him a rockstar. He has said as much. I don't know that SPI is the best objective system (I'm really only aware of FIFA, ELO, and SPI), but if it is, that matters.
   8861. Randy Jones Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:27 PM (#4748195)
Umm, no. If SPI is the best objective system, it can still suck and be useless. Having the flu is generally better than having cancer. That doesn't make having the flu good.
   8862. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4748203)
Umm, no. If SPI is the best objective system, it can still suck and be useless. Having the flu is generally better than having cancer. That doesn't make having the flu good.


Well, I suppose you're right that it is theoretically possible that the best objective system could be so bad that it is useless, but that doesn't seem likely. I mean, the FIFA ranking has some very obvious, dreadful flaws, but even it isn't truly useless. If I wanted to see how the US team's standing has changed over the decades, and ELO and SPI didn't exist, I'd get some meaningful answers from the FIFA ranking. It would (I'm sure) show that the US has improved from 1980 to today, for instance. I'm pretty sure ELO and SPI are both better than the FIFA ranking, so if its not useless, I know they aren't.
   8863. Stevey Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4748206)
Having the flu is generally better than having cancer. That doesn't make having the flu good.


My, is this one of the dumbest comparisons I've ever seen.
   8864. John Shade has yet to hear the Squeak Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4748211)
Mascherano explains why he was in pain after that great tackle on Robben:
"In that movement I opened my anus, for that reason I was in such pain. I don't want to be rude, but that is what happened."
   8865. Randy Jones Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4748219)
My, is this one of the dumbest comparisons I've ever seen.

You clearly haven't read the OTP thread then. Also, ead.
   8866. JoeHova Posted: July 10, 2014 at 04:59 PM (#4748230)
"In that movement I opened my anus, for that reason I was in such pain. I don't want to be rude, but that is what happened."


Oh my god, that might be the best sports quote of all time.
   8867. ursus arctos Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4748232)
I liked this early preview of the final from Jonathan Wilson.

If I wanted to see how the US team's standing has changed over the decades, and ELO and SPI didn't exist, I'd get some meaningful answers from the FIFA ranking. It would (I'm sure) show that the US has improved from 1980 to today, for instance.


It's a bit of a quibble, but no, you couldn't actually do this. The FIFA Rankings were only introduced in December 1992 and have undergone a couple of major methodological changes in the interim, with no post-hoc adjustments being made to the historical data set to reflect those changes.
   8868. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4748239)
Alexis Sanchez is a Gunner.
   8869. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:21 PM (#4748243)
I think there will never be a large enough sample size to make SPI any good, to be honest. By the time you get a big enough sample the inputs will have changed. I'm ok with that, actually.
   8870. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4748246)
I'm ok with that, actually.

But are you ok with Alexis Sanchez coming to North London?
   8871. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:25 PM (#4748247)
Well, I suppose you're right that it is theoretically possible that the best objective system could be so bad that it is useless, but that doesn't seem likely. I mean, the FIFA ranking has some very obvious, dreadful flaws, but even it isn't truly useless. If I wanted to see how the US team's standing has changed over the decades, and ELO and SPI didn't exist, I'd get some meaningful answers from the FIFA ranking. It would (I'm sure) show that the US has improved from 1980 to today, for instance. I'm pretty sure ELO and SPI are both better than the FIFA ranking, so if its not useless, I know they aren't.

The FIFA rankings are about as close to useless as it's possible for a comprehensive dataset to be. I mean, yes, it tells you who wins more than they lose. But in 2014, that stuff is instantly available. All the FIFA rankings do is build in a bunch of actively harmful assumptions that makes it worse than the uncorrupted Elo system.

But neither of them pay any attention whatsoever to personnel, tactics, underlying stats, etc. Which means they are only barely 'projection' systems at all. They are simply retrospective assessments of who won, which let us make predictions simply by virtue of the fact that you can't regularly win without being good.

As for SPI, I don't particularly have a problem with it. I like that it exists and that people are trying to quantify things. That's great. And it certainly ought to beat Elo, because it can incorporate more information. Just like any useful projection system HAS to be able to beat Marcel.

So far, SPI seems like it has a bit more predictive power than Elo. Which is great. But it comes at the cost of being WAY more opaque, and way more full of potentially extraneous information. So I'm not sure it really adds much to our understanding. What parts are useful and what parts are only adding noise? If they wrote posts digging into that stuff, I would be interested. Absent that, it's a pretty big bag of meh.

As for 'we got 13 of 14 right,' I think it irritates me because in context it sounds like saying: 'sure, we erroneously called California as a landslide for Romney, but we got 48 states right!'
   8872. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:31 PM (#4748254)
But are you ok with Alexis Sanchez coming to North London?

Meh, whatever. They always have a good team so they're just shuffling players from my POV.
   8873. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4748257)
I wonder if Sanchez plays up top or on the wing. Giroud is a decent enough center forward but he should play against teams who sit back on Arsenal and a plan 'B' when they're chasing a goal. All I know is that it will be fun to watch if Wegner decides to play Walcott, Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain up front at the same time.
   8874. Textbook Editor Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4748268)
Oh my god, that might be the best sports quote of all time.


Oh, it's better than that. Via Deadspin:

In Google Translate, the ESPN Brazil headline reads, "'I tore the anus that move. So the pain ', says Mascherano after avoiding Dutch goal."


Here is that ESPN Brazil article.

"I tore the anus that move" is just a line that could be used in so many contexts I think my head's going to explode contemplating the comic possibilities.
   8875. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: July 10, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4748273)
he developed a pretty simple system that happened to be better than the garbage "analysis" you could find through Politico and the punditry, and it made him a rockstar.


The vast majority of what Nate did was simply bring internal political analysis already being done "on the inside" to the masses. There was literally nothing in his methods that wasn't already common knowledge to people already working on data in Elections and polling.

He was the right man at the right time parroting the right ideas. What he did, and I give him credit for this, is descredit a number of (in general) older talking heads that the game had long ago passed by. The direct mail stuff was Rove's genius, the data stuff is every consultant with a computer science or analysts degree working inside politics since 2000 or so.
   8876. Stevey Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4748285)
Also, ead.


Hmm, you seem like a completely pleasant fellow to continue the conversation with.
   8877. Moeball Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4748289)
Has anyone seen any good analysis yet of the matchups - especially position by position - for the final? I'm intrigued. Historically, it's usually been the South American teams that play the wide open aggressive offensive style and the Europeans that play the more conservative, defensive-minded game. These two teams make that pattern look switched around, at least from what I've seen...
   8878. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4748292)
Silver was waxing poetic about Brazil being big favorites despite the absence of Neymar and Silva. If Brazil had won he would have certainly not shied away from letting us all know it. He does give a nod to small sample size below, but then tries to figure out why the betting markets are biased, clearly indicating he believes his model is telling us something that the markets are missing (somewhat hilariously suggesting that bettors are biased by the FIFA rankings). By the way, aside from Brazil, SPI has not meaningfully favored South America in the knock-out round. And now they have Germany as more of a favorite in the final than the betting odds. Where is your Euro bias now? Silver was just making up stories.

So far, SPI and Elo have performed well compared to the betting markets. In general, markets are fairly tough to beat, so this could just reflect good luck. International football is particularly hard to rate, whether using subjective or objective methods. The main problems are that the teams don’t play very many competitive matches against one another, and that the composition of the rosters is always changing. SPI tries to address some of those problems, but it isn’t perfect.

But there could also be a pro-European bias in the markets. Even though Europe has performed rather poorly in this World Cup, it has the highest-profile club leagues, and it has a higher concentration of wealthy people who can afford to bet on soccer. FIFA’s ranking of international teams, with methodological flaws that may result in overrating European teams, also has some currency in shaping perceptions about international soccer. That may help to explain why betting markets give the European teams a 47 percent chance of winning the World Cup when SPI gives them a 32 percent chance (even after accounting for Brazil’s player absences). It may also help to explain why Brazil’s ugly wins against Colombia and Chile are given less credit than if they had come against, say, Portugal and France.

   8879. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4748296)
Argentina 1990 and Brazil 1994 was very much win-ugly teams, so the attacking stereotype hasn't been true for a while. Also, while Germany is more offensive, they are far from wide open, they play tightly and aren't swashbuckling.
   8880. John Shade has yet to hear the Squeak Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4748298)
Has anyone seen any good analysis yet of the matchups - especially position by position - for the final? I'm intrigued. Historically, it's usually been the South American teams that play the wide open aggressive offensive style and the Europeans that play the more conservative, defensive-minded game. These two teams make that pattern look switched around, at least from what I've seen...
I think pundits are going to find it hard to pump out any penetrating position-based analysis until they've gotten a clearer picture of the state of Mascherano's anus.
   8881. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4748306)
AuntBea, I guess we're just seeing Nate's words through differently-colored glasses. The two paragraphs you quote seem very even-handed and reasonable to me. He says his model 1) is trying to measure something very difficult to measure; 2) isn't perfect; and 3) might've been lucky so far. He goes on to say that the model could be picking up on things the market is missing. That just doesn't seem excessively smug to me, but your mileage may vary.
   8882. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:39 PM (#4748313)
Argentina 1990 and Brazil 1994 was very much win-ugly teams


Argentina lost the final in 1990. Lost ugly, I suppose.
   8883. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4748314)
He goes on to say that the model could be picking up on things the market is missing.

He also makes some generalizations that doesn't speak well of his understanding of the betting markets and the knowledge of the European gambler (including me). I feel mortally insulted by this yokel from the colonies and would demand satisfaction if he was a gentleman. But now I can only exclaim Mon Dieu and sniff contemptuously.
   8884. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4748316)

Argentina lost the final in 1990. Lost ugly, I suppose.


Yeah, they did have to win some games to get to that point though.
   8885. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4748321)
He also makes some generalizations that doesn't speak well of his understanding of the betting markets and the knowledge of the European gambler (including me).


What generalizations are those? If you're just talking about the statement that "FIFA’s ranking of international teams . . . also has some currency in shaping perceptions about international soccer," do you have evidence to suggest that the statement isn't true? It certainly seems plausible that some fraction of the betting public might be influenced by the FIFA rankings. Obviously the "smart" gamblers know better, but even if 95% are smart enough to know better, the 5% that don't could certainly contribute to the shifting of betting lines as he suggests.
   8886. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4748324)
This idiocy:

en though Europe has performed rather poorly in this World Cup, it has the highest-profile club leagues, and it has a higher concentration of wealthy people who can afford to bet on soccer. FIFA’s ranking of international teams, with methodological flaws that may result in overrating European teams, also has some currency in shaping perceptions about international soccer. That may help to explain why betting markets give the European teams a 47 percent chance of winning the World Cup when SPI gives them a 32 percent chance


That is the words of a man who knows #### about betting on football. He's just making stuff up.
   8887. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4748326)
That is the words of a man who knows #### about betting on football. He's just making stuff up.


Well, he's clearly speculating. But he tells you that by saying those things "may" explain the betting markets' stance. He's not claiming to have proof, or to be sure.

And again, can you explain why you are so sure that those factors don't make a difference to even 5% of the betting public? They seem like quite reasonable possibilities to me, at the very least. I know from personal experience that "public teams" are often overvalued in betting lines in the NFL, for instance. It seems perfectly plausible to think the same might be true in soccer betting.
   8888. PepTech, the Legendary Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4748336)
A moment of silence, please, as the Europa dream has died for Gibraltar. Next year!
   8889. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4748344)

Well, he's clearly speculating. But he tells you that by saying those things "may" explain the betting markets' stance. He's not claiming to have proof, or to be sure.


Maybe "why is my system better than the betting markets?" is the wrong question to ask. It is kinda weird to try to find reasons for a pro-European bias when Brazil and Argentina both are in European bettors top 4.


And again, can you explain why you are so sure that those factors don't make a difference to even 5% of the betting public?


I'm so sure because I have never ever seen a human being that is both aware of the FIFA rankings and taking them seriously. As for the Europe is wealthy stuff, the Asian betting markets are huge. As for the highest profile club leagues, EVERY ####### SOUTH AMERICAN PLAYER WORTH #### PLAYS THERE, DUMBASS.

The converse side is: does Nate Silver understand that there are some pretty serious mathematical modeling used by bettors and bookmakers that in the end produces the odds on the market? That he may not be the last word in "objectivity"?
   8890. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4748349)
And again, can you explain why you are so sure that those factors don't make a difference to even 5% of the betting public?
Even if this were true, it would not change the odds meaningfully. Bookmakers don't need to have 50% of the money on each side of a line, as they are repeat players.
   8891. BDC Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:38 PM (#4748353)
Nearly every sentence on this page is a great opening for "that's what she said":

seems fairly modest to me

That gets him in the conversation for GOAT I guess

I can only exclaim Mon Dieu and sniff contemptuously

In that movement I opened my anus
   8892. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:46 PM (#4748356)
Maybe "why is my system better than the betting markets?" is the wrong question to ask. (emphasis supplied)


Well, that's OK, since that's not the question he asked. As I said before, he said that his model disagreed with the markets and then gave several reasons why that could be true. Not why it "is" true, but why it could be. He also specifically said his model could be the one that was wrong. I don't know what more he should reasonably be expected to do.

DUMBASS


I'm not sure if that's directed at me or Nate, but either way, it seems excessive.

I'm so sure because I have never ever seen a human being that is both aware of the FIFA rankings and taking them seriously.

Have you seen everyone who bets on soccer? In particular, have you seen the least-analytical 5% of the public, the 5% who put the least thought in to their betting? These are rhetorical questions, obviously, but I'll say again that it seems quite plausible that at least a few percent of the betting public are influenced by FIFA's rankings, which would presumably be enough to contribute to some influence on the lines (assuming that my understanding conveyed in my response below is correct.)

The converse side is: does Nate Silver understand that there are some pretty serious mathematical modeling used by bettors and bookmakers that in the end produces the odds on the market?


My understanding is that at least part of the methodology that bookmakers use for setting odds involves trying to keep roughly equal money on both sides so the house doesn't get burned on a bet that goes the public's way. I will admit to not being the world's greatest expert on soccer gambling, so I'll just ask- is that not the case in the soccer world?

Bookmakers don't need to have 50% of the money on each side of a line, as they are repeat players.

I just saw this, but I honestly don't understand it. Can you explain? What is a repeat player?
   8893. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:54 PM (#4748364)
Can you explain? What is a repeat player?
See post 8312.
   8894. Baldrick Posted: July 10, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4748366)
This 5% thing is a bit of a red herring. Here's what he's trying to explain:
That may help to explain why betting markets give the European teams a 47 percent chance of winning the World Cup when SPI gives them a 32 percent chance

That is a HUGE, ENORMOUS, MASSIVE difference. You would need WAY more than 5% of the betting public to be wrong to make up that gap.

And, as everyone has said, it really isn't a 'European vs. SA' thing. It's a 'SPI gave Brazil a 45% chance of winning before things started' thing. That's where all the excess opportunity went. And they were quite obviously wrong about that. The much simpler explanation going into the semifinals was not 'here's some silly logic we can ascribe to those who differ from our model.' It was 'hmmm, maybe our model is off about Brazil.' That this is what knowledgeable people have been saying all along, and was proven to be monumentally correct, does not reflect tremendously well on them.
   8895. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4748374)
8893- Thanks, that makes sense. Although, even the article in 8312 says point-blank that bookmakers do shade their lines toward the public, so I think Nate's speculation that the influence of the FIFA rankings could affect the lines still holds up.

That is a HUGE, ENORMOUS, MASSIVE difference. You would need WAY more than 5% of the betting public to be wrong to make up that gap.


But the "5%" was just my number for a guesstimation at how many people are influenced by the FIFA rankings. Nate's speculative reasons for the gap were not limited to the FIFA ranking influence, but also several other reasons, including that his model might be wrong. So...?

SPI gave Brazil a 45% chance of winning before things started' thing.... And they were quite obviously wrong about that.... knowledgable people... were proven to be monumentally correct,

But one result really doesn't prove anything, anymore than Brazil winning two more games than they did would've proven SPI right. Put another way, if 7-1 did prove SPI wrong, then it would've proved everyone else "wrong" too, including every objective and subjective system, and including the collective wisdom of the betting markets. Certainly 7-1 is a bad data point for SPI, but they had a lot of good data points too (Portugal's failure comes to mind). What is needed is a study that compares SPI's results to other systems over as large a sample size as possible, as I said in 8850. I take it nobody knows of such a study?
   8896. John Shade has yet to hear the Squeak Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4748376)
And, as everyone has said, it really isn't a 'European vs. SA' thing. It's a 'SPI gave Brazil a 45% chance of winning before things started' thing. That's where all the excess opportunity went. And they were quite obviously wrong about that. The much simpler explanation going into the semifinals was not 'here's some silly logic we can ascribe to those who differ from our model.' It was 'hmmm, maybe our model is off about Brazil.' That this is what knowledgeable people have been saying all along, and was proven to be monumentally correct, does not reflect tremendously well on them.
Right, I don't have a problem with Silver speculating on ways betting markets (and all the other statistical projection systems) could be undervaluing Brazil. I just think it's odd that he didn't go the other way and think about ways in which SPI might have been overrating Brazil. Especially because he has way more insight into SPI than the average person.
   8897. Scott Lange Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4748379)
Right, I don't have a problem with Silver speculating on ways betting markets (and all the other statistical projection systems) could be undervaluing Brazil. I just think it's odd that he didn't go the other way and think about ways in which SPI might have been overrating Brazil. Especially because he has way more insight into SPI than the average person.


I'd guess that one reason might be that he didn't have specific ideas why SPI might be overrating Brazil. After all, if he had specific thoughts suggesting that his model overrated Brazil, he presumably would've adjusted the model to correct those errors. Of course, he did acknowledge that there the model wasn't perfect and could be wrong, even if not saying he thought it was possibly wrong in a particular direction.
   8898. Swedish Chef Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4748380)

I'm not sure if that's directed at me or Nate, but either way, it seems excessive.


It was aimed at Nate's just-so story. I despair at people lapping up arguments that are beyond weak, they're paper-thin rationalizations. You should demand better from him.

And with that I'm not going to write another word about Nate Silver for a long, long time, he's just this guy, not any worse than Murray Chass. And it's 2 AM and I have to go to work tomorrow.
   8899. greenback slays lewks Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4748383)
But one result really doesn't prove anything, anymore than Brazil winning two more games than they did would've proven SPI right.

It wasn't just the one result. People have been making fun of Silver's odds for Brazil from the moment the numbers were unveiled. Then watching the tournament, it was clear this Brazil teams was not in the same class as some former Brazil teams. Their dismal performance against Germany was the last in a series of blows to the model.
   8900. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4748389)
"hey, random variation, what r you gonna do."


On the one hand, this does get said a lot. On the other hand, the world is full of things that don't fall into patterns and the failure is an attempt to explain the inexplicable, not the other way around.
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