Which Ranking Will Win Out in Brazil: FIFA, ELO, or SPI?

Discussion in 'World Cup 2014: General' started by Iranian Monitor, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    Depending on which ranking is more accurate, the most probable teams to qualify from each of the groups in the World Cup in Brazil based on the FIFA, ELO, and SPI rankings are as follows. While we each have our own views on which teams will advance, the question here is which of these rankings will prove to have predicted the group standings and other results in Brazil best?

    Separately, there are times all 3 rankings show a consensus (depicted in italics), but occasionally at least, their consensus seems wrong. Which cases do you think all 3 rankings fail to properly handicap these groups?

    Incidentally, I have used the most recent rankings below but technically the most relevant rankings will be those right before the tournament starts.

    Group A:

    1- Brazil (per all 3 rankings)
    2- Mexico (per SPI and ELO) -- Croatia (per FIFA)
    3- Croatia (per SPI and ELO) -- Mexico (per FIFA)
    4- Cameroon (per all 3 rankings)

    Group B:

    1- Spain (per all 3 rankings)
    2- Holland (per FIFA and ELO); Chile (per SPI)
    3- Chile (per FIFA and ELO); Holland (per SPI)
    4- Australia (per all 3 rankings)

    Group C

    1- Colombia (per all 3 rankings)
    2- Greece (per FIFA and ELO) -- Ivory Coast (per SPI)
    3- Ivory Coast (per FIFA and ELO) -- Greece (per SPI)
    4- Japan (per all 3 rankings)

    Group D

    1- Uruguay (per FIFA and SPI) -- England (per ELO)
    2- Italy (per FIFA) -- England (per SPI) -- Uruguay (per ELO)
    3- Italy (per SPI and ELO) - England (per FIFA)
    4- Costa Rica (per all 3 rankings)

    Group E

    1- France (per SPI and ELO) -- Switzerland (per FIFA)
    2- Switzerland (per ELO) -- France (per FIFA) -- Ecuador (per SPI)
    3- Ecuador (per FIFA and ELO) -- Switzerland (per SPI)
    4- Honduras (per all 3 rankings)

    Group F

    1- Argentina (per all 3 rankings)
    2- Bosnia (per all 3 rankings)
    3- Iran (per FIFA and ELO) -- Nigeria (per SPI)
    4- Nigeria (per FIFA and ELO) - Iran (per SPI)

    Group G

    1- Germany (per all 3 rankings)
    2- Portugal (per all 3 rankings)
    3- USA (per all 3 rankings)
    4- Ghana (per all 3 rankings)

    Group H

    1- Belgium (per FIFA and SPI) -- Russia (per ELO)
    2- Russia (per FIFA and SPI) -- Belgium (per ELO)
    3- South Korea (per ELO and SPI) - Algeria (per FIFA)
    4- Algeria (per ELO and SPI) -- South Korea (per FIFA)


    While Portugal is favored over the US by only the slimmest margin according to SPI, the only group whose entire standings are predicted the same way by all 3 rankings is actually Group G. Which tends to undercut the argument that Group G is a group of death, or it seems.
    ChaChaFut repped this.

  2. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    Btw, while I am still undecided which of these rankings will prove to have been the most accurate in terms of predicting the standings in these groups, the consensus rankings in the following instances are ones that I disagree with the most:

    1) Japan finishing last in Group C. I don't think so.
    2) Bosnia finishing 2nd in Group F. I doubt it very much.

    While I am also not sure that the consensus ranking that puts Ghana last in Group G, or Cameroon last in Group A, will prove correct, in the other cases I agree with the consensus rankings.
  3. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member

    Apr 6, 2006
    The rankings always end up looking stupid after almost every WC, I expect no different this time.
  4. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    The question here is which will prove to be the worst? And which will prove the best? Which one have done a better job ranking these teams?

    Since you are a Nigerian/CAF supporter, let me highlight the differences between these rankings as it relates to African teams.

    If you go by FIFA's rankings, and assume that the higher ranked team will finish above the lower ranked team, then no African team (zero) should be able to advance to the Round of 16. In fact, based on FIFA's rankings, 3 CAF teams should finish last in their group, with those 3 somewhat surprisingly being Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.

    For African teams, however, ELO is even worse: there are no CAF teams rated high enough to finish top 2 in any of the groups, while 4 of the 5 CAF teams rate 4th at the bottom of their groups (Algeria, along with Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon).

    The only rankings which see an African team in the Round of 16 is SPI. They have the Ivory Coast in the R16. SPI also sees Nigeria over Iran, but still rates Ghana, Cameroon, and Algeria the weakest teams in their respective groups.

    Now, I know for a fan of African teams and Nigeria in particular, none of these ranking are good or encouraging. But between them, I assume you would prefer SPI even if they aren't your favorites either? Incidentally, SPI are also the only ranking that put South Korea over Iran (Iran being ranked 38 by SPI and South Korea 37), while both ELO and FIFA rank Iran a lot higher than South Korea. But one thing that you might not like about SPI: they too rate Chile and Colombia quite high (#5 and #6 respectively).

  5. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member

    Apr 6, 2006
    all the rankings are garbage, other than the first 5 or 6 places. After that its all over the place. I really don't care for them because as I said earlier they always end up being shown as a fraud. European sides are always overrated and the CAF and Asian sides underrated. Its the same every single time, and the pundits never learn.

    The thing is though its not necessarily that the format for rankings are faulty, although they are in many cases. In other instances its more a case of lack of inter confederational games of a competitive nature. Euro sides play each other often in competitive matches, as do Conembol sides, and since they are the highest ranked, there are more points up for grabs within those confederational competitions. Even the ranking system I created fails to properly address this problem.

    If we look back to Nigeria's ANC victory, the only real team of note we beat was CIV. In my opinion CIV are a top 20 side. The recent ANC had 3 teams that would be at least top 25 sides in CIV, Nigeria, Ghana. So unless you play any of these teams beating the likes of Mali, Burkina Faso, etc. doesn't really tell you much. I could make the same case for Confederational tournaments in Asia and Concacaf. If you are the US, unless you beat Mexico, nothing is really gained from beating anybody, and even that only gives you limited street cred IMO.

    Now look at the euro's where you have many top 25 sides. Almost every one of the 16 teams is a top 25 side as opposed to roughly 3 in the ANC. Of course this doesn't mean a team like Nigeria, USA, Japan, or whomever cannot beat some of these euro sides in a tournament, its just that they never get the opportunity to prove they can do it. They will pretty much get one or two chances every 4 years, whilst teams like Greece, Bosnia, Denmark or whomever test themselves against these teams all the time. That's why even average euro sides are ranked higher than Africa's or Asia's best, and why the WC usually proves that these average euro sides ARE NOT BETTER than the best teams from the weaker confederations.

    So the rankings don't worry me. Bosnia and Iran may be ranked higher than Nigeria, but IMO if all three teams play to their ability, it will emphatically be Nigeria who progress.

    Greece may be ranked higher than CIV or Japan, but again if all teams play to their potential, Greece will lose to both sides.
  6. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I can't do this will all of them, but lets see how FIFA's ranking did last time around?

    FIFA ranking for the 32 World Cup finalists in 2010, right before the World Cup (May 2010), the rankings in paranthesis. Lets see which confederation(s) were overrated and which were underrated. I have marked those that I think were clearly off. The ones that were overrated in Blue and the ones underrated in Red, the more highlighted the more off the ranking.

    1- Brazil (1)
    2- Spain (2)
    3- Portugal (3) (somewhat overated)
    4- Netherlands (4)
    5- Italy (5) (LOL -- talk about being overrated!)
    6- Germany (6) (underrated somewhat)
    7- Argentina (7)
    8- England (8)
    9- France (9) (clearly didn't live up to this ranking!)
    10- Greece (13) (overrated)
    11- USA (14)
    12- Serbia (15) (I would say a tad overrated)
    13- Uruguay (16) (perhaps underrated)
    14- Mexico (17)
    15- Chile (18)
    16- Cameroon (19) (overrated)
    17- Australia (20)
    18- Nigeria (21) (a tad overrated)
    19- Switzerland (24)
    20- Slovenia (25)
    21- Ivory Coast (27)
    22- Algeria (30)
    23- Paraguay (31) (somewhat underrated)
    24- Ghana (32) (clearly underrated)
    25- Slovakia (34) (underrated on standings, although probably because of how wierd that group turned out to be)
    26- Denmark (36)
    27- Honduras (38)
    28- Japan (45) (clearly underrated)
    29- South Korea (47) (clearly underrated)
    30- New Zealand (78) (I don't think they were underrated, but they certainly over performed)
    31- South Africa (83) (not really underrated given they were hosts)
    32- Korea DPR (105)

    So what is the lesson from the past World Cup?

    The AFC teams are clearly underrated by FIFA. Even North Korea, despite the 7:0 loss to Portugal, was underrated probably given how they played and how poorly they were ranked (105). Teams like Japan and South Korea were clearly underrated. So, to a lesser extent, were the teams from Conmebol.

    The UEFA teams, by and large, were overrated by FIFA. In fact, if you look at the colors above, while you will find a couple of light blues for the UEFA contingent, the most prominent color is red and a rather dark red to boot! And, frankly, even though Ghana proved very underrated, all the other CAF teams were either rated properly or were mostly overrated.

    FIFA did rather well when it came to teams from Concacaf. They were neither overrated nor underrated really.


    To give FIFA its due, though, in the majority of cases, FIFA's rankings weren't all that off.
    JamesBH11 repped this.
  7. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I wanted to post my last message so that I could respond to your comment with the empirical evidence to inform my response. And my response below focuses mainly on FIFA's rankings, as I haven't done the analysis for the others yet.

    While FIFA's rankings occasionally overrate or underrate teams from various confederations, the only confederation that I believe those rankings totally underrate is the AFC. With respect to CAF, the truth is that CAF simply doesn't get results that are commensurate with what everyone otherwise expects of them based on their potential, athletic ability, and talent. And teams don't get ranked by potential; they get ranked by their results.

    That is a legitimate point and one reason why AFC teams are so poorly rated. I am not, however, convinced that the specific problem you allude to actually applies as much to either CAF or Concacaf. There are plenty of CAF teams, and even Concacaf teams, that are rated high enough, not top 20 per se, but at least top 50. The AFC teams, on the other hand, are so poorly ranked that even our best teams are often not ranked among the top 50!

    Thus, under FIFA's rankings, there are no less than 9 CAF teams that rank in the top 50 and plenty of others that are hovering around the top 50 in addition to these 9 teams! You do get a good bounce beating such teams. Even Concacaf, with its limited membership representing (outside of the US and Mexico) a tiny (very tiny) fraction of the world's population, ends up with no less than 5 teams in the top 50! Compare that to the AFC: we have only 2 teams in the top 50 right now (Iran and Japan)!! Even South Korea and Australia aren't included in the top 50! That is insulting and it is, therefore, not surprising that we end up seeing teams like Saudi Arabia rank #87, China rank #92, while North Korea have fallen from their 105 ranking at the time of the 2010 World Cup to #139 or around where Tahiti (#143), Guyana (#149) are ranked, and below UEFA powerhouses like Luxemburg (#123) and Malta (#132), or Concacaf powerhouse Grenada (#136) or CAF powerhouse teams like Lesotho (#138).

    Listen, North Korea didn't really belong in the 2010 World Cup, not being really even in the top 10 in the AFC at the time (ranked #16 within the AFC), but they aren't anything like the teams that are being ranked next to them! The 7:0 scoreline against Portugal notwitstanding.

    African teams have potential, but in terms of what is going to happen in Brazil, I predict Nigeria to draw Iran and lose to Bosnia. (Iran will beat Bosnia, mark my word, but I am undecided about how we will do against Nigeria but tend to predict a draw as the most likely result).

    As for the Ivory Coast, their best chance to advance doesn't come from Didier Drogba (who I truly enjoyed watching play when he was with Chelsea). Rather, it comes from a combination of Japan's uncanny ability to sometimes look good and yet not get the job done, and the fact that the Japanese aren't very strong physically. Still, Japan are an experienced squad who have faced and defeated African teams often enough to know how to do the job against CIV as well. When it comes down to it, even CIV is very unlikely to advance from its group.
  8. Christina99

    Christina99 Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Buenos Aires
    I find this thread to be very interesting, too bad people are not responding so much to it.
    Agree that UEFA teams tend to be overrated, and i think concacaf teams are too. What do they ever achieve, anyway?

    Hope this team FIFA, SPI, ELO, etc are all right and Argentina and Colombia finish among the top 4
  9. Tukafo

    Tukafo Member+

    Oct 12, 2013
    FC Bayern München
    Interesting discussion and good work comparing the 2010 rankings, iranian monitor

    In defense of the rankings let me play devil's advocate for a moment. Rankings before a WC are based on results over the last few years. So was Italy's relatively high ranking in 2010 really 'wrong' ? They were the reigning World Champions at the time so did you expect Fifa or Elo to rank them 31st in the world? The fact that they were poor in South Africa doesn't really make the ranking before the WC incorrect as that ranking was based on results and not an evaluation of form.

    Let me put it this way - given that no country has been as successful as Spain over the last few years I think most people would agree that ranking them in first place is a correct ranking if rankings are based on results and not 'form of the day'. But if Spain end up having a poor WC would that really mean that the ranking was incorrect?

    Are the tennis world rankings incorrect because Djokovic lost in the Australian Open quarters this week? No, they aren't because they are based on the matches of the last 12 months and not his form last tuesday.
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  10. grandinquisitor28

    grandinquisitor28 Member+

    Feb 11, 2002
    I just think it's pointless, at the end of the day the confederations don't play each other nearly enough for anyone to get a clear idea of where any of the tier-2 to tier 5 sides stand in relation to one another, and the rankings are further weakened by friendlies which are incorporated into results even though they are totally unreliable means of evaluating teams (because of the seriousness and the radically differing levels of quality in the sides brought for the match (A/B/C etc).

    The rankings, at the end of the day, just seem worthless as a means of evaluating anything save for the very tops of the confederations alone. They seem fairly reliable there. Forget how SPI ranks everybody mixed together, instead take a look at how it rates the teams within the feds in comparison to one another:


    1. Japan
    2. S. Korea
    3. Iran
    4. Australia
    5. Uzbekistan

    Any arguments with this? I doubt it.


    1. Ivory Coast
    2. Ghana
    3. Nigeria
    4. Egypt
    5. Cameroon
    6. Burkina Faso
    7. Zambia
    8. Senegal
    9. S. Africa
    10. Tunisia

    Okay, I can see some arguments here, where's Algeria, Is Zambia too high (Some posters that specialize in CAF commentary seem to think so), is Senegal too low? Is S. Africa overly inflated based on their hosting results from years ago etc? Why is Ivory Coast consistently ahead of Ghana despite inferior results? But still, the overall grouping is nearly dead on, and only the order seems slightly off.


    1. USA
    2. Mexico
    3. Costa Rica
    4. Honduras
    5. Panama

    There isn't much point digging beyond this grouping because the performance of the third tier squads in the region: Guatemala, Jamaica, T&T, Canada and El Salvador fluctuates (though I'd put it at: Jamaica, Guatemala, T&T, Canada, and El Salvador), but that ordering is spot on, Mexico and the US has held the top 2 slots for decades, Costa Rica and Honduras have shifted back and forth, but been the clear next 2 since 2001, while Panama has climbed from bottom of the third tier to 5th in the region since 5th, sure the results haven't always been there, but their track record in Gold Cup's, and qualifying

    '05 Gold Cup: 0-0 Runner Up (loses to USA on PK's in Final)

    '06 World Cup Qualifying: Made hex, finished dead last.

    '07 Gold Cup: Lost to USA in quarterfinals 2-1

    '09 Gold Cup: Lost to USA in quarterfinals 2-1 A.E.T

    '10 World Cup Qualifying: Inexplicably lost in the 2nd round to El Salvador when they gave up 2 goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation at El Salvador.

    '11 Gold Cup: Semi-Finalist. Showing that '09 was an aberration , lost in semi-finals to USA on late goal 1-0.

    '13 Gold Cup: Runner Up (lost to USA 1-0 on late goal much like '11).

    '14 World Cup Qualifying: 5th Place (hearts broken when idiots decided to take gas off the pedal late, not realizing the US would play to win in a meaningless game (apparently players actually exchanged words with Americans over the seriousness with which Americans were playing), lost world cup ticket when US scored in the 91st minute @ Panama in Hex Finale)


    1. Brazil
    2. Argentina
    3. Chile
    4. Colombia
    5. Uruguay
    6. Ecuador

    Looks dead on to me, especially with Falcao out.


    1. Spain
    2. Germany
    3. France
    4. Netherlands
    5. England
    6. Belgium
    7. Italy
    8. Bosnia and Herzogovina
    9. Portugal
    10. Russia
    11. Switzerland
    12. Ukraine
    13. Serbia
    14. Greece
    15. Sweden
    16. Croatia
    UEFA seems like the only fed where SPI is off its rocker. I disagree sharply with the rankings, mine would be:

    1. Germany
    2. Spain
    3. Italy
    4. Belgium
    5. Portugal
    6. Netherlands
    7. France
    8. England
    9. Bosnia and Herzogovina
    10. Russia
    11. Switzerland
    12. Serbia
    13. Sweden
    14. Ukraine
    15. Croatia
    16. Greece

    Looking at SPI, it really seems as if the ranking system does work when it comes to internal confederation rankings. The only fed where I really think the rankings are nuts is in regards to UEFA. England fifth? Really. I don't think England have been fifth best in UEFA since '98. France 3rd? Absurd.

    But every other fed looks more or less right to me, and I think that's where the problems crop up, the ranking systems can rank feds (except for UEFA?!?!?!) because there is a great enough sample size of results in serious competitions (qualifying, and federation championships) to allow most of the ranking systems to figure things out properly. But right when you start creating cross-federation rankings, they fall apart, particularly in regards to CAF and AFC, the latter are simply underranked, while the former are just idiotically ranked, although some of it is because of the obvious instability of the countries, and political entitites involved, as well as the economic issues therein. It's got to be a hellvalot easier for countries like Germany, France, England, S. Korea etc to put together and Fund a legit and reliable infrastructure to build a competitive side than Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast, or Ghana.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
    Blondo repped this.
  11. grandinquisitor28

    grandinquisitor28 Member+

    Feb 11, 2002
    I wish I had your confidence when it came to my own teams chances. At the end of the day, I think the US might pull off something because they do have a track record of producing their best against their toughest foes in most cups (against Italy at Italia '90, against Colombia in '94, against Portugal, S. Korea, Mexico and Germany in '02, against Italy in '06, against England in '10, pushing Ghana despite being completed exhausted and bereft of subs and actually outplaying them in the 2nd half of that round of 16 defeat in '10), but I still know for myself that it will require the US to play their best, get some luck and perhaps have an off day from their G opponents. Not surpisingly the odds are pretty unpleasant:

    Group Winner: 12-1

    Ghana appears to be a slight favorite on matchday 1 at 13/8, while the US is 19/10.

    Portugal is a stronger favorite at 4/5, the percentages are about 25% for a US win, 30-33% for a draw, and about 45% for a Portugal win.

    You get 9-1 odds for a US win over Germany right now, Germany's basically about 66-70% or thereabouts, and about 25% chance of a draw.

    Odds to be the group cellar dweller? 50%.

    Meanwhile Iran's odds to win their group:


    Odds against Nigeria? They pay out 10/3 for a win, 5-2 for a draw, and 21/20 for a loss (so I guess that breaks down to about 33% win, 20% draw and nearly 50% for a defeat. y

    Odds against Argentina, you don't need me to tell you they are long, 20-1, 5% chance of winning.

    Odds against Bosnia, that sure win you're talking about? Iran pays out 6 pounds for every pound you bet on an Iran victory, Bosnia? You have to pay 6 pounds just to win 4. On the positive side, if you think a draw is in the offing, you'll win 3 pounds for a 1 pound bet.

    For me, it just seems like incredibly impressive confidence perhaps misplaced confidence, to not only project the results you do, but to expect them as the most likely scenario. Seems a stretch.

    Nigeria's a pretty damn good team. I wouldn't call them powerhouses, nor put them in the top 15, but they're close, Argentina is a powerhouse, and whatever friendly results may say, and you'll find very few that take them very seriously, Bosnia has produced fine performances repeatedly in qualification for three consecutive campaigns. There were definitely worse options for Iran, but theres a reason all the oddsmakers have Iran as a heavy underdog in every match, 80-1 to win the group and the favorite to finish in the cellar by a substantial margin (heck you have to bet 12 pounds, just to win 1, if you're betting they'll fail to advance).

    I just envy your faith in that squad, wish I wasn't such a realist, but growing up following sports teams that have always under-delivered with few exceptions (Redskins in football, Indians and Expos/Nats in baseball, Bullets/Wizards in Hoops, Capitals in hockey), I'm pretty inured to that level of faith you have, for me blind faith. There's nothing in the results to really justify the confidence, but you have it. I almost hope it happens for you guys because it would make for an entertaining run, and make my Persian friends quite happy, but I just prefer watching Nigeria and Bosnia play, and would rather see their squads move on, particularly Nigeria, although the historical subtext with Bosnia makes them a human interest story for me.

    Where do you get such confidence from? And as I've mentioned before, if it's not just your heart saying this, but rather your head, and your head has a good track record, you sure as hell should get to a casino and put some money down because you could win brinks trucks full of cash on those odds.
    Blondo repped this.
  12. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I am not sure this thread was supposed to be about Iran or any particular team or group. So your comments are a bit out of place, except the discussion I was looking for hasn't taken off so much. I will, however, address what you had to say about SPI in my next post. That is closer to the kind of discussion I was hoping to have in this thread. But about Iran:

    First, I am not going to look to odds that are given by bookies to form my opinion about teams that I know very well and have carefully studied. That would be stupid and I would be underselling myself if I did that. I would look at odds only if were are talking about teams I don't know much about or if I wanted to make a bet and wanted to find the picks that I felt were underrated or overrated by bookies to win by betting for or against them.

    Second, there are very few teams that I rate a sure win for Iran even in the AFC. In the World Cup, that is not the issue at all so I will never assume that a win against Bosnia is a sure thing. That is ridiculous. I am confident, however, that Iran has a much better chance against Bosnia than the odds you mentioned. I am very confident on that point. I honestly think anyone who is in the habit of gambling, and wants to take a pick that will give them a very good chance to earn money, would put money on Iran to beat Bosnia with those odds you mentioned. If you are a gambler and don't, you are almost committing malpractice!

    Third, the odds on Nigeria look about right. They undersell Iran a bit but not by much. I see a draw against Nigeria as being almost as likely as a loss but an Iranian win as the least like result. Something like 35% Iran loss, 35% draw, and 30% Iran win. I give Iran better odds against Argentina than the ones you listed, but I wouldn't bet on Iran against Argentina regardless. In my mind, the chances of a draw are around 20%, the chances that we beat Argentina 10%, and the chances of a loss 70%.

    I don't see Iran finishing on top of its group at all. Whatever the odds, I wouldn't bet against them.

    Incidentally, if you want to talke detail about Iran v Bosnia or Nigeria, including how they match up on paper in talent and players and otherwise, there is a thread devoted just to that subject in the Group F thread. Lets have that discussion there.
  13. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I actually think SPI has the best rankings when it comes to how they see teams within the AFC. They have Iran and S.Korea neck and neck but put South Korea at #37 ahead of Iran at #38. I am undecided if that is the correct sequence, and totally dismiss the overall ranking compared to teams from outside of the AFC, but agree that the two teams should be ranked very close to one another. Not like FIFA or ELO, which put Iran miles ahead of South Korea right now.

    I also agree that SPI is off when it comes to teams in UEFA and have my own views of which teams they underrate and overrate in other confederations.

    All that aside, there are 2 things that I like to establish through this thread. First, that the rankings (especially FIFA and SPI) underrate teams from the AFC across the board in comparison to teams from other confederations. I am pretty sure I will be able to prove that point after the World Cup. Second, that they oversell the 2nd/3rd tier type teams from UEFA as well. That is also something that I will be looking to show after the World Cup has concluded. Even if the small sample of games between confederations makes it hard to make these points definitively.

    The other point that I agnostic about somewhat right now but like to better be able to form an opinion on is which of these 3 rankings (FIFA, ELO, SPI) at the end will prove better than the others in predicting the World Cup results? Will it be SPI, or ELO, or will it turn out to be the much maligned rankings by FIFA?
  14. grandinquisitor28

    grandinquisitor28 Member+

    Feb 11, 2002

    I would agree w/everything in here except for you views about CAF (posted earlier). I too think the third tier UEFA teams are basically drafting the big dogs, their performance in tournaments has tailed off signifigantly in recent cups, while that of AFC has gone up dramatically (S. Korea has been fantastic in its past 3 tourney's combined, Japan has been pretty good too, Australia showed well in back to back tourney's as well, vastly superior to anything previous to '02), ditto Concacaf, where the US has joined Mexico as a legit threat, and Costa Rica, and Honduras can play the spoiler fairly well, and CAF continues to struggle to send more than 1 team out of the group stage. The question is why, and I think the answer is fairly straight forward, CAF has a vastly superior 2nd tier to that of the AFC and Concacaf, and third tier as well, but their first tier, their cream is just as thin, and has the same issue with groups of death that all the AFC teams and the US has, land in one and your done (only Mexico managed to handle those issues with aplomb).

    I don't have any doubt that SPI and ELO and everything else undersells the AFC, though I'd definitely argue that CAF is the group that really gets hosed. Ivory Coast at its best rarely got a ranking commensurate with their talent, and Ghana, good lord, Ghana has consistently been ranked like it's basically the equivalent of a Greece, or a Honduras, or a Slovenia, when in fact they belong with England, and Sweden, and Uruguay. What really gets my goat beyond that inclination to undersell those squads by 5-15 slots, is CAF teams typically ranked in the 40-60 area, who really belong in the 30-45 area, squads like Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Zambia back in '11-'12 etc. Nobody can convince me those squads are fundamentally inferior to Costa Rica, Honduras, Bolivia, Romania, Austria, and Venezuela. I don't know if they could take all of them in a home and home, particularly teams w/the home field advantages that exist in places like Costa Rica, Honduras, and Bolivia, but I do feel that on neutral ground, in a world cup, w/o any distractions, I'd take Senegal, and Burkina Faso against any of those sides, and I'd give a Tunisia, and Zambia and similar caliber squads a quality shot too.

    AFC gets a bit of a downgrade as previously mentioned for little apparent reason, seems like they're still dragging around expectations based on the world cups rolling up to '98, when those are in the distant past for the most part in terms of relevance.

    So I pretty much stick to my point with the rankings, I think they're useless across confederations. We run into a similar problem out here with college football and basketball, there is a wide disparity in the relative quality of recruits based on geography, and as a result of that, certain area's produce much better results in major competitions than others (particularly the American Southeast in College Football, and the Southeast and Northeast in Basketball). Interestingly, in both cases in the distant past, the West and upper Midwest used to be dominant in both sports, but that is no longer true. Why? A lot of debate, and a lot of it doesn't take into account one of the primary causes, which to me, is economics, the death of the rust belt economy driving more and more people into the northeast or south, or spread out in the west amongst San Diego, LA, the bay area, Arizona, Oregon and Washington (whereas in the past, LA, and to a lesser extent the bay area were the primary targets for young athletes looking to play college ball). As a result, we get bowl games in football, in which conferences have traditionally been largely pre-paired with other conferences so that it becomes very difficult to tell who may actually be the best (and in that case, its even worse than the World Cup, because in the world cup, at least everyone has a somewhat decent shot at proving their talent on the field), because the best of the SEC are traditionally paired with the Big-10, which has largely collapsed over the past decade, meanwhile the Big-12 and Pac-12 have really become much more competitive than the Big-10, but don't get the opportunities to play the SEC to nearly the same degree because of the pre-established bowl relationships.

    These rankings are similarly flawed because you're just not getting nearly enough cross-federation play, to really get anything remotely like enough sample size evidence to support any argument. And in the absence of that, you just have to rely on the eye test (unreliable and biased), past results (not necessarily predictive of future results), and player pedigree (which doesn't automatically translate on the team level, as you can see with squads like Netherlands, or France, who almost never play up to the pedigree, or squads like Mexico, the US, or S. Korea and Japan lately, who nearly always play above it, or squads like Germany, who simply generate results like a machine, and play like a metronome).

    So I don't really care so much about the rankings and how effective they are, though I know SPI made a much ballyhooed promotion four years ago about how it was designed to project out results, and predict them fairly accurately, but of course that was quickly forgotten and shuttered because Nate Silver figured out its much easier to project voting patterns, than player performance on game day.

    As for the Iran thing, its basically that I get a bit annoyed reading posts projecting how a tourney will unfold when I see a bit too much homerism in it, and when I see projections of Cameroon making the Final Four when they aren't even a top 4 team in Africa, or Iran being a massive threat to Nigeria, and expected to beat Bosnia w/o much trouble it strikes me as defeating the purpose from the very start, upsets are fine, but it would be great if there were some reasoned arguments with evidence, it's kind of frustrating when I want to read people's ideas, and I often feel I'm just reading their feelings, and hopes instead (and this refers to the round of 16 to the final thread).
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
    Blondo repped this.
  15. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I really get annoyed by your comments regarding Iran as well, but what is even more annoying is your stubborn insistence to come back to your views all the time. I have heard them. I find your views misplaced and misinformed. But you are entitled to your annoying and misinformed views all the same. It doesn't change anything really, even if it becomes a bit irritating that you have to find a way to mention them in practically every message you post in every thread you visit.

    In the meantime, for whatever it is worth, Iran to me is roughly at the level of many 2nd tier teams in UEFA, Bosnia included. The fact that we have beat Bosnia 4 straight times is just extra bonus. I wouldn't count Iran beating Bosnia a 5th time an upset. At least, not in my book because that is what I expect: I expect Iran to beat Bosnia. All the same, Bosnia is clearly capable of beating Iran as well and until these teams play, neither one of us really know who will end up on top.
  16. Sudžuka

    Sudžuka Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 27, 2013
    Iran will finish bottom of the group with above -10 GD
  17. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    Iran is not going to beat Bosnia nor Bosnia beat Iran because of what we post on the internet. And while almost anything is possible in football, I think you might find this little trivia somewhat informative as well.

    In Iran's case, our World Cup results are perfectly consistent with our friendly results! No matter how ancient or recent, no matter if we played our friendly match first and the World Cup match subsequently or vice versa, it remains a fact that the teams that have defeated us at the World Cup have also defeated us in friendlies and, conversely, the teams that haven't been able to beat us at the World Cup haven't been able to beat us in friendlies either. With 4 straight losses to Iran in our friendly matches, allowing 14 goals in those games to boot, I don't think the trend and the stats I alluded to look good for Bosnia!
  18. Iranfootie

    Iranfootie Member

    Dec 20, 2006
    IM jan, I am not trying to pick on you but I see this analysis a lot from sports fans (ie. country/team X has a favorable record against country/team Y)...how can one extrapolate those results to the CURRENT team since countries/teams have a high turnover. For example, how do results from a match in 1998 affect predictions for a match in 2014.

    For example, TM beat US in 1998. I do NOT think that TM can duplicate that in 2014. For one, the US is now of Donovan, Altidore, etc. that are MUCH better than the 1998 squad. I've always felt that analysis should be done based on a current team. In NBA, the Lakers historically have been one of the best in the league. This year they are one of the worst. You can NOT say that because Lakers have consistently beaten a team in the past, then they will beat them this year.
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  19. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I have analyzed Iran versus Bosnia and Nigeria every which way there is, including going over their players and their rosters. But in response to one liners about Iran finishing with a minus 10 GD, I am satisfied that what I said is more than sufficient. And what I said is that there is a "little trivia" that might be informative. I called it trivia frankly to not to have to respond to people like you saying the obvious and imagining they have discovered the theory of relativity on their own!
  20. Iranfootie

    Iranfootie Member

    Dec 20, 2006
    Yes, I know you have done so and I commend you for that. Oh sorry, I didn't see the qualifying first paragraph. Manu nakoosh!
  21. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I want to go to the issues that I like to actually see discussed in this thread. Those issues are basically whether the following two main propositions that I have listed are correct? And, relatedly, which of these rankings are most or least accurate?

    (1) Asian teams are underrated across the board by FIFA (as well as SPI) relative to teams from other confederations generally, and in relation to UEFA and CONCACAF teams in particular. ELO is far more accurate when it comes to ranking AFC teams compared to teams from other confederations.

    I emphasize "across the board" because it would be misleading to imagine that the failure here only applies to Japan and South Korea, two teams that those outside of Asia rate due to their performances in recent World Cups. The fact of the matter is that even North Korea, which was thrashed 7:0 by Portugal, was nonetheless underrated in 2010 when it was ranked 105 by FIFA! Today, North Korea is ranked 139 well below Malta from UEFA, below Grenada from CONCACAF, below Lesotho from CAF. This is illustrative of a larger truth that is reflected in the fact that there are only 2 AFC teams right now in the top 50 according to FIFA, while there are 9 CAF teams in the top 50 and supposedly 5 such teams from CONCACAF.

    While the AFC occasionally has messes up and has teams qualify to the World Cup that aren't really among its best, and even though these teams often get to do poorly, as poorly as they have done, they have still probably done better than what is suggested by their FIFA rankings!

    2) FIFA and SPI overrate 2nd and 3rd tier UEFA teams relative to teams from other confederations. ELO does better in this regard.

    In general, my own analysis of results from 2nd/3rd tier UEFA sides shows that they don't do well enough against teams from other confederations in friendlies or in the World Cup to justify the rankings they are given by FIFA or SPI. Teams like Bosnia, Russia, Croatia, and Greece and others like them which haven't qualified to the World Cup are typically overrated by these ranking systems.
  22. Iranfootie

    Iranfootie Member

    Dec 20, 2006
    I actually thought about this and I still need to do more analysis to get a more accurate conclusion. BUT, looking back, I actually think UEFA teams are highly ranked because of what they consistently do well in World Cup. I remember 4 years ago everyone was talking about a possible South American World Cup in the quarterfinals and it ended up being an ENTIRELY European semifinal (same result in 2006). European teams compromise a little less than 1/2 of the teams in the World Cup and they consistently compromise the bulk of the teams in the latter rounds of the World Cup.

    However, all this tells us is that the best European teams are the best in the world. It does not compare 2nd/3rd tier European teams with Asian teams. I think a 2nd tear European team such as Bosnia are teams that are beabtable by the top tier of Asian football. But the worst tier in Asian football is pathetic! The Afghanistans., Indias, etc. would get destroyed.
  23. grandinquisitor28

    grandinquisitor28 Member+

    Feb 11, 2002
    What is it that causes the screw up with AFC? I wont argue with you on this topic because I agree, there is something fundamentally wrong with it when it persists in ranking Japan and S. Korea, despite consistently performing as top 15-25 sides in the world the last 12 years, as a 30-40 side. I can't figure out what is causing the problem, and why. Concacaf, maybe part of the situation is simply Mexico and the US involve themselves in Copa America, in the confed cup, maybe more friendlies w/bigger sides? Doesn't seem like it though considering Japan's recent friendlies.

    I don't understand it at all. I get CAF to an extent because of the constant turnover with who does well in the Nations Cup, and the general instability there, but still, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast, and Ghana are always undersold as well.

    Its really strange because I would agree, Concacaf lower tier sides are consistently over-ranked, I'm not so sure with UEFA, with only some exceptions, most of the UEFA sides ranked highly are worthy, two nations worth considering are Peru and Bolivia. Why does sucking big time in South America, merit a top 25-40 ranking?!?! I do think the sides are much, much better than most third tier sides from well, anywhere, but better than the best Asian, or African sides? Give me a freaking break.
  24. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I would place Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Holland, France and England as 1st tier European sides. Any of them would obviously be favored against Iran and other Asian teams and rightly so. If we got a result against any of them, and its not impossible that we would (more so against some of them than others), it would clearly be an upset. I should mention, moreover, that these are the kind of teams that beat Iran and other Asian teams (never mind that in 2002, South Korea actually beat some of them but that is a whole different story...)

    The 2nd tier would then be teams like Russia, Croatia, Greece and Bosnia. In between the 2nd and 1st tier would be up and coming teams whose current rank exceeds their pedigree and whose placement is still not very clear to me, namely Belgium and Switzerland. If you look at the results from all these teams against Iran and Asian teams comparable to Iran in their ranking and strength, I think its clear that there is no clear advantage that any of these 2nd tier types enjoy against us. Since Wc98, we have played many such teams and seldom lost to them. We have beat Russia (in neutral venue), Bosnia (including in Bosnia), and drew Croatia 2:2 in Croatia when the real score in that game was 3:1 (a late goal disallowed for Iran without any justification; a dubious penalty awarded to Croatia 6 minutes into overtime in a supposed friendly to allow them to tie the game). We haven't played Greece, or Belgium, or Switzerland, but their results and performance against other Asian teams (team that Iran beat more often than not) doesn't show them to be anything that is all that special. So I can't really accept these teams being better than us, unless proven otherwise. Especially since I see the rankings that lead many to rate them better to be underrate Asian teams very clearly across the board. To me at least, besides Iran and Japan (barely) who are in the top 50 according to FIFA, South Korea and Australia should clearly be in the top 50 too! And similarly the rest of the Asian sides that now hover closer to 100 than 50 should be closer to 50 than 100.

    The underrating of AFC teams, incidentally, isn't confined just to FIFA. SPI does it as well. SPI ranked South Korea #37 and puts Iran #38 behind them. They are the only ranking that puts South Korea above Iran, but regardless it puts both of us behind the likes of Costa Ric and Honduras! And put Australia at #48 behind Panama as well! This is really insulting and cannot reflect anything about the results in the game by any of these teams that I am aware of.

    The only justification I can see in these wierd rankings is not the results from any of these teams, which I have carefully looked at and studied. The only justification arises from the simple fact that the AFC (with Iran helping out) screwed up in 2002 and 2010 and the AFC ended up with teams like North Korea in 2010 and China and Saudi Arabia in 2002 in the World Cup. All these teams going pointless and getting thrashed badly. I suppose from the experience of teams like North Korea (#105 when the World Cup started in 2010 and #16 in Asia well behind Iran ranked one of the top 4 in Asia throughout) or China (#6 in Asia right before Wc2002, 20 places behind Iran in the overall rankings at the time with Iran ranked #1 in Asia nonetheless), or Saudi Arabia (previously one of the top ranked Asian team but still ranked behind Iran at the time) one could conclude that other Asian teams (besides South Korea and Japan and Australia once they joined) suck. In the process, coming up with a formula that would bring down all Asian teams even Japan and South Korea! When in fact the more obvious lesson was that the Asian World Cup qualifying system, as sensible as it seems on paper, is in fact not all that sensible in practice.

    The seeding system in 2002 was rigged very clearly with China getting to be seeded for the 2002 World Cup for no reason except to give them a good shot at qualifying. And, with Iran and Saudi Arabia placed in the same group, besides doing our part in messing things up, we had to also deal with the perennial problems of Iran playing in a region surrounded by Arab states, Arab referees, and Arab officials. Otherwise, why on earth was an already eliminated Bahrain behaving like that against Iran in that infamous match we lost that allowed the Saudis to qualify instead of Iran? Rolling on the grass for the entire 2nd half, refusing to get up and play basically, acting so that our team would be totally out of its nerves ending up with 9 men, and beating us at the end courtesy of a referee who refused to enforce the rules and I still believe was bribed. For Bahrain to then run laps around their stadium hoisting the Saudi flag and acting as though they had qualified!

    After what happened to Iran in 2002, I was actually rooting more strongly for the Germans when they were thrashing the Saudis 8:0 than I bet any German fan was. But the fact is that those results are what is killing perceptions about Asian football.
  25. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Tehran Iran
    I obviously don't agree with the ranking of Asian teams, but since ranking follow a formula, there must always be a reason. The simple reason I suppose is found in the fact that the AFC often has teams like North Korea (2010), Saudi Arabia and China (2002) to represent it, with these teams sucking badly in the tournament. That then probably affects how they rate points from within the AFC.

    This would be a good enough reason if any of these teams were ranked as the top teams in Asia at the time, but they weren't. The Saudis are the only legitimate Asian power to have embarrassed Asia badly in the World Cup, sucking like that in 2002 as karma in my eyes for whatever they did to qualify undeservedly in the first place. But teams like North Kore and China weren't top Asian teams and were kind of out of their leagues to begin with.
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