Group C Analysis Silver Style

Nate Silver, statistician extraordinaire, who first came to prominence with his mathematical system to evaluate MLB players and then with his 2008 presidential predictions, has thrown his hat and statistical analysis to predict Group C at the upcoming World Cup. He’s taken conventional wisdom and backed it up with stats and simulations (not the diving kind).

Personally I don’t think its too hard to project the final placings in this group but I do find the statistics interesting in that after all the simulations, Algeria still have a 1 in 4 chance of advancing. Basically no game is going to be easy and England and especially the US have to watch out for sneak counter attacks, park the bus mentality and tough physical play to deter them off their game(s).

As proven last night, you can have all the attacking prowess in the world but you need creativity and a plan B and C. Barcelona left it too late to change their plan and Mourinho from the get go, got his tactics right. Why Henry was never introduced I do not know.

All in all I think Silver gets his assessment of the teams and their chances are spot on. Thoughts?

Also – poor ol Messi is left alone in the elephant grass!

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scweeb on 2010/04/29 at 10:22 AM

    I think he the numbers are right. Epically us needing 2 goals against England.

    Reply

  2. I like how SPI puts our attack at 9th and our defense at 34th. I think that’s actually about right. We’re a very efficient, incisive attacking team but our defending is absolutely atrocious at times. We’re very direct and don’t focus on keeping possession which is a bit naiive because we just don’t defend consistently well as a team. I agree that our friendly performances aren’t a good predictor of how we’ll do. Definitely interested to see how we look during the upcoming friendlies.

    If we could defend in the sort of way Inter just pulled off we could be semifinalists. That’s why I felt heartened from the first 30 minutes of the Netherlands friendly – we looked tactically well-drilled and capable of using a strong defensive base to spring counter-attacks. Things just went wrong when we lost Holden to injury and didn’t adjust our shape. If we could get more solid and disciplined defensively, we would win a lot more matches and begin beating top 10 teams regularly.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/04/29 at 11:26 AM

      Solid points Tuesday.

      Agree with your assessment of the Holland friendly adding two things to it:\
      Paco Torres didn’t help the defensive scheme
      Our discipline in midfield was more challenged than the backline.

      Does the USMNT really have the horses on defense?

      Pending how you look at it –and let’s use our Holland friendly line-up–we have on the backline:
      – A defender from a near-relegation side who is a starter 65% of the time
      – A defender from a near-relegation Championship side
      – A left fullback from a mid-table Ligue1 side playing out of position in the center
      – A defender–at leftback–who is currently playing centerback for a mid-table MLS side.

      On Holden — and I’m still awaiting another interview — I honestly believe he is currently very underrated.
      If you watch him he is a young Beckham…I do believe that–and I’m not given riduclous hyperbole…just hyperbole from time-to-time. :> He’s deceptively quick, can maintain possession, and you need to crowd him or he’ll get off a near perfect service attempt.

      Back to the above–can you tell I’m still on root canal meds?–I think it’s a decent statistical analysis.

      However I would condense both ratings, from a merely human perspective. 9th in attacking, 34th in defense both seem a bit extreme on either side? I would love to know how those numbers were calculated?

      Was strength of opponent taken into account, because surely ringing up 8 on Barbadoes and 5 on Cuba helped us….

      Anywho…

      Reply

      • I agree on Holden. He reads the game well, his positioning is great, he’s not slouch technically, he’s athletic and he’s got mad dead-ball skills. Even though he can deliver in just a couple yards of space like Beckham, he’s a lot quicker so he can actually get around the defender up the flank, buying time by keeping the defender honest. A very, very useful player to have around. I think his emergence could very well be the big story of our team (you know, besides Charlie Davies scoring the goal that brings the Big Cup home to the states). Bolton got in on the ground floor of this one – there will be rumours of a transfer to Man U later this summer.

        I think you’re describing a defense that’s probably about the 34th best in the world. And you wonder why Bob tends to prefer 2 DMs in the middle? Those guys need all the help they can get. Hopefully we’ll be adding “a top-class defender at the center of AC Milan’s revamped back-line”. I also think that Spector tends to play left-back for his club due to his versatility though he’s a much better right-back. I’m a bit worried about all the problems with DeMerit – I do wonder about his attitude after his season in the top league and a stellar confederations being mired back in the lower leagues. Hopefully we get Confederations Cup DeMerit and Bocanegra can slide out to play left back, like at his middling french club.

        Reply

  3. Posted by Colin on 2010/04/29 at 11:24 AM

    awww….Messi is adorable, looking for his buddy Thierry when he gets lost.

    I am really hoping that both the USA and England look at the opening game as neither a must win or must draw and play somewhat of an open game. I really dont want it to be a 1-0 type game.

    Reply

  4. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 11:40 AM

    I agree – I would also like to know where these numbers come from.

    Does anybody know where you can get data that show which portion of the game say Netherlands concede or score? Obviously, a team will try and score as soon as it can, but I like the stats what say Netherlands has conceded 80% of it’s goals in the last 15 minutes etc.

    Tuesday – when you begin to beat the top 10, I think you’ll be a top 10 team!

    Reply

    • Posted by Colin on 2010/04/29 at 12:18 PM

      teams like Spain? Its worth noting that the USA scored first against Italy (#5), Spain (#2), Brazil (#1), Egypt (#13), and Mexico (#17) last summer….which coincidentally was about the last time that the USA played with a full A squad. Granted, they lost 3 of those 5 games… Also, they held their own against the Netherlands (#4) in amsterdam with a B+ squad.

      I could argue that the USA should be ranked higher than Croatia, Greece, Russia, and Egypt (none of which qualified for the world cup)….which would put the USA at #10

      Reply

      • Posted by Colin on 2010/04/29 at 12:20 PM

        I take that back…Greece qualified…durr…I am seeing them against argentina in Polokwane June 22

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/04/29 at 1:17 PM

          It’s always tought to compare CONECAF teams to UEFA. You also lost to Denmark and Slovakia. And Netherlands are going to be a much better team with RVP back.
          But you should take the rankings with a pinch of salt. I agree with it to a certain extent, but when you see Portugal at No. 3, you have to consider its impartiality. USA will be a top 10 team very soon, and I can see them staying there for a long time.

          Reply

      • I think what George and I both mean is beating top 10 teams roughly half the time and teams outside the top 10 fairly consistently. As things stand we hold our own against other teams ranked in the teens and 20s winning roughly half the time, and win fairly consistently against teams outside the top 30 and defeat top 10 teams occasionally.

        Basically it shouldn’t be a problem as long as Sacha Klejstan isn’t on the roster.

        Reply

    • That’s exactly where I was going with that. The adventure starts this summer with our win over Eng-er-land.

      Everything you want to know about the SPI is right here. I think you’ll enjoy it George.

      FIFA has that kind of data, at least within their competitions, because they use it in their technical reports, available here. I don’t think they share with the public however. Here’s the one from the confederations cup – see page 86.

      Reply

  5. Bob:

    “Oftentimes, wtihin the team, decisions are clearer than people on the outside would understand. There’s an old expression that the team picks the team. That’s pretty true because usually things establish themselves pretty well. Players know who are the ones that should be there, and that kind of thing.”

    “Your best eleven guys don’t always make (up) your best team.”

    He says all the right things, doesn’t he? The only problem is for Bob it means Sacha Klejstan is starting.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Matt B on 2010/04/29 at 4:44 PM

    I’m very interested to see how accurate this statistical model is in predicting the results this summer. As for how we are rated here, Silver does say that the US is especially hard to rank given the lack of quality in CONCACAF.

    Reply

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