SEBA Projections

Updated SEBA international forecasts through May 29

Below are the current forecasts using data from matches through May 29, 2017.

Hexagonal Power Rankings

The “Power Rankings” we concoct are the actual “strength” of the team according to competitive expectations. The value represented on the X-Axis is the average amount of points we expect that team to receive when playing against every national team that participated in the previous World Cup on neutral territory:

The following chart shows the average points bonus for a particular nation’s home field advantage. This is important in explaining why teams may seem to have favorable odds to qualify even when ranked lower.

World Cup Qualification

The US’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup have decreased from 78.88% to 77.49% from the last published forecast.

The next chart shows the probabilities of USA’s potential Hex finish.

The following chart shows the likelihood of the AFC team for the inter-confederation matchup (4th place CONCACAF vs. 5th place AFC).

The following chart shows the “Snub Index.” The idea is based on, if the World Cup were to be a tournament for the 32 truly-top teams in the world (at least according to SEBA), then this chart is sorted by how unfortunately damaged the top 32 teams’ chances are in qualifying for the World Cup.

The USA is not in this chart because they are not currently quite among the top 32 teams according to SEBA.

On the other side, this chart shows the nations outside of the top 32 who, perhaps unfairly, benefit from an imperfect qualification system and are ranked by their benefit (the table shows only the top 29 teams but the graph shows all teams with a chance).

The next charts show the probabilities of other confederations qualifying for the World Cup.

World Cup 2018

So… I went a little crazy over the MLS off-season and I decided I wanted to forecast the 2018 World Cup as well. The difficulty with this is that seeding for the groups depends on the FIFA ranking system, which means I would need to forecast every team’s rank to determine the “Pot 1” teams.

For those who don’t know, Pot 1 in the World Cup refers to the host and the top 7 teams according to FIFA rankings. These will represent the Group leaders for the first round of the World Cup. The remainder of the teams in the groups are placed semi-randomly with attempts to avoid over-concentration of teams from the same federation.

For the last World Cup, the October 2013 rankings were the ones deemed ‘final’ before the World Cup draw so I’m now assuming October 2017 are the ones to shoot for. I also don’t have the forecast system perfectly aligned with reality, although it is quite similar. I have not built in the different point outcomes for PK-wins/losses in my FIFA ranking projections and I, obviously, do not have a mechanism for forecasting currently-unscheduled friendlies. However, I have forecasted every scheduled tournament between now and October.

Below shows the simulated ranks for the USA. Summary statistics are below the chart. USA’s most common forecasted rank is 25, but could go as low as 12 and as high as 62. USA’s current rank is 23.

Below is the probability of obtaining Pot 1 status. In the table, we also include the team’s qualification probability (if they don’t qualify, they can’t be in Pot 1), their current FIFA rank, and their confederation for helpful information.

USA did not not make Pot 1 in any of the 10,000 simulations. A lot of this is due to not having enough of an opportunity to ascend further in FIFA rankings. Mexico has a better chance in part due to currently being ranked higher, but also due to their qualification for the Confederations Cup, which gives a large importance multiplier in addition to top-ranking competition.

The following then manages to forecast the 2018 World Cup. Again, we accompany the odds of victory with qualification probability to help understand why some teams may be lower than expected. The USA has increased marginally from a 0.7% chance to a 0.72% chance of winning the World Cup.

The following shows the USA’s most probable group stage Opponents.

The following shows the various odds of each national team progressing out of the Group Stage. USA has a 29.15% of making it through the group stage of the World Cup.

The following shows the probabilities of USA’s Round of 16 opponent.

The following shows the probabilities of teams advancing through the Round of 16. USA has a 12.15% chance of making it through the Round of 16.

The following shows the probabilities of the USA’s quarterfinal opponent.

The following shows the probabilities of teams advancing through the quarterfinal. USA has a 4.94% chance of making it through the quarterfinal.

The following shows the probabilities of the USA’s semifinal opponent.

The following shows the probabilities of teams advancing through the Semi Final. USA has a 1.8% chance of making it through the Semi Final.

The following shows the probabilities of USA’s Final opponent.

Gold Cup

The following shows the Gold Cup champion forecast. USA has decreased its chance of winning the Gold Cup from 34.31% to 32.3% from the last published forecast.

The following shows the probabilities of teams advancing through the group stage of the Gold Cup. USA has a 97.24% chance of advancing through the group stage.

The following shows the probabilities of USA’s quarterfinal opponent.

The following shows the probabilities of teams advancing through the quarterfinal. USA has a 70.43% chance of advancing through the quarterfinal.

The following shows the probabilities of USA’s semifinal opponent.

The following shows the probabilities of each team advancing through the semifinal. USA has a 49.2% chance of advancing through the semifinal.

The following shows the probabilities of USA’s final opponent.

Other Tournaments

The following shows the Confederations Cup projections. CONCACAF’s representative, Mexico, has seen its odds of winning decrease from 19.29% to 18.46% since the last published forecast. They have the second-highest odds, thanks in part to an easier draw (with Russia, Portugal, and New Zealand) according to SEBA’s rankings.

FIFA Rankings Comparison

For a discussion on how the FIFA rankings system differs from SEBA’s, check out the article from 3/28/2017.

The following shows, according to SEBA, the top-10 overrated teams to the left and the top-10 underrated teams to the right.

The following shows, if the USA wanted to schedule its friendlies to best manipulate the FIFA ranking system, who they should schedule against. The top table shows home matches, which are inherently the best choice for manipulating the FIFA rankings system. The second table shows, if the USA needs to schedule away friendlies, who they should schedule against in that scenario. The third table shows the current USA scheduled matches.

The MatchFIFAPts are 3-times-win-probability + draw-probability. rkPts represents the average expected points the USA might receive within FIFA’s point system for their rankings.

Scheduled USA Matches

Finally, the following shows the probabilities of results for upcoming USA matches.

2 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    To me the biggest issue with the Gold Cup probabilities is regarding how strong a team each country will field. I would be really surprised if Mexico plays any of their top players given both the WC qualifiers and Confederations Cup in June. The US also traditionally fields a lesser teams during WC qualifying years.

    • Chris Sherman says:

      Yeah, that can be a difficulty, but at the same time, calculations include past degrees of varying rosters too, so theoretically an ‘A’ team might not be what the projections are based off of either.

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