Predicting a Winner for the 2014 World Cup

Data Source: Data visualizations in this post are based on data sourced from Source: Commentary, data analysis as well as Business Intelligence and analytics software brought to you by Yellowfin.

As the World Cup intensity increases with the group stages now finished, draws a thing of the past and the final match looming in the near future, predictions around the water cooler have reached a fever pitch. At Yellowfin, this begs the question: Can we use statistics to gain a leg up on our colleagues in predicting the winner of this year’s 2014 World Cup?

Based on the current data collected from the 2014 World Cup on performance of team’s total wins, losses and draws arranged by the most goals scored, data suggests the Netherlands as winners. Ranked this way, only one goal separates Colombia, followed by Argentina and Belgium – all countries currently undefeated in the World Cup. Under this model, Brazil, a favorite at the start of the tournament, is rated only the 8th most likely country to win.

As you may know, the Netherlands hold the unfortunate record for the highest number of appearances in the World Cup without a title – always the bridesmaid… The Oranji, as they are affectionately known, have fought their way to the final game 3 times with zero titles to show for it. Could 2014 be the year to knock their reputation as The best footballing nation to have never won the tournament?

Goals = Success:
With an impressive average of 3 goals scored per match, the Dutch more than double the 1.3 average and in comparison have scored 4 more goals than Brazil. They were ranked 15 at the start of the world cup, but with their high scoring games–beating Spain (5-1), Chile (2-0), and Australia (3-2) – and undefeated record, they’ve seen their odds steadily improve as the tournament progressed.

What about historical data?
Looking at historical data in the same way we would predict a win by Brazil. But, as several of our big contenders approaching the finals are ranked so low using this model–6th (Netherlands), 24th! (Columbia – currently ranked 2nd by 2014 performance), and 4th (Argentina)–using past performance to predict a winner may not be the most appropriate indicator. Besides, predicting the tournament favorite to win does not make for the most interesting reading.

The first footballer-astronauts and World Cup Winners?
As you can probably tell, I’m personally pulling for the Dutch (the more discerning reader may be able to pick up on my utter lack of soccer knowledge), but if you’re not convinced by my interpretation of the data and need another reason to cheer for the Netherlands, consider this: the Oranji have been offered an astronomical incentive. A Dutch company called Ruimtevaartbedrijf SXC have offered the winning Dutch team a flight to outer space! “SXC say they are ‘mega proud of the achievements of Oranje’ in Brazil and believe the Dutch’s ‘unearthly performance’ in the tournament ‘deserves an unearthly reward.’

The Netherlands players and coach Louis van Gaal, already high from their title, could fly even higher–to Space—with this donated trip 103 kilometers into the Earth’s atmosphere. Can the Netherlands win the World Cup trophy for the first time in the country’s history and boldly go where no football team has gone before?

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