SpainWin/NetherlandsWin/Draw = 52%/21%/27%.
For Spain, the odds of winning the World Cup for each result are 20%/10%/16%.
For the Netherlands it is 1%/5%/2%.
Winning the first match gives Spain double the chance of winning the World Cup than if they lose. Netherlands have five times the chance of winning the cup with an upset over Spain. A surprisingly large effect from the first match of the group phases!
England v Italy – 6/14/2014
This is the tenth strongest match-up in the group phases. England and Italy are close in rating and involved in a difficult battle with Uruguay for advancement. Here is the breakdown.
EnglandWin/ItalyWin/Draw = 38%/32%/30%.
For England, the odds of winning the cup are adjusted as 1.28%/0.42%/0.84%.
Italy is 0.23%/0.82%/0.51%.
Not as dramatic as the Spain-Netherlands match-up because the teams are weaker and have much less chance of being the overall winner. Still, each side sees a three to four times improvement in World Cup winning chances with a clean win in the first round.
Germany v Portugal – 6/16/2014
This is the fifth strongest match-up in the group phases. However, both Portugal and Germany are clear favorites to advance from this group. Although they are strong teams, is this an important match?
GermanyWin/PortugalWin/Draw = 57%/17%/26%.
Odds to win for Germany = 16%/11%//14%.
Portugal = 1%/2%/1.4%.
It seems pretty clear that finishing first or second in Group G is not as important as for the other groups. A slight advantage for winning this match occurs for both Germany and Portugal.
Ghana v USA – 6/16/2014
Not necessarily the strongest match but certainly of interest for fans of the US Team. The USA have Germany and Portugal ahead of them in the simulations of Group G. Does beating Ghana make any difference? The USA only has a 0.16% chance of winning overall. However, if they beat Ghana the odds rise all the way to 0.22%. Not too impressive, is it? However, losing this match lowers the odds of winning to 0.04%. This mainly tells us that Germany and Portugal are so strong that beating Ghana is a requirement for the USA, but not nearly sufficient by itself.
Group A (Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon)
Does anyone really expect Brazil to falter at the group stage? Even without HFA Brazil advances 99% of the time and wins the group 90% of the time. Not only are they rated as the best team in the world, they also have the fourth easiest group opponents in the tournament. Brazil will advance. The fight for second is close to an even toss between Mexico and Croatia (45%/40%). Croatia’s ER decline the past year is the worst of any World Cup team. That should give the advantage to Mexico. Considering how Mexico got into the World Cup, they should consider themselves as having a fortunate draw.