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2018 FIFA World Cup Megathread

For discussion and debate about anything. (Not a roleplay related forum; out-of-character commentary only.)

VAR... Good thing or bad thing?

Good thing!
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54%
Bad thing!
10
12%
My view is far more nuanced than this false dichotomy permits
29
34%
 
Total votes : 85

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The Archregimancy
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2018 FIFA World Cup Megathread

Postby The Archregimancy » Wed May 16, 2018 12:55 pm

Neu Leonstein has started an unofficial NSG World Cup Fantasy Football league:

https://fantasy.fifa.com/en/leagues?code=4E657 (Code: XM9FDTEO)

Join him; it's your best chance of seeing a German lose something World Cup-related this summer.


-----------------------

Well, you know, there's less than a month to go now until the Чемпионат мира по футболу 2018, and teams are announcing their squads, so we might as well get the megathread started.

This is the thread for discussing the 2018 football/soccer World Cup, the thread where Nazis in Space will signal his appreciation for Herr Love's man shaft Herr Löw's Mannschaft, where Blaatschapen will offer witty and amusing comments from the perspective of an interested neutral while secretly crying silent orange tears of rage over the Netherlands' absence, where Shofercia will help explain to us why Russia's victory over / draw with / loss to [delete as appropriate] Saudi Arabia demonstrates why Transnistria should be recognised as a legitimate sovereign nation state, and where at least one poster from the United States will either express concern over the sport's growing popularity in the US or relief that the US hasn't qualified.

And some other things might happen too.

The current poll's been set to stop around the first game; I'm more interested in seeing the poll results before matches get underway properly.

And the options? Strictly FIFA rankings only for 1-8; blame FIFA, not me. Option 9 (with apologies to the higher-ranked Poland, Peru, and Denmark) is for the laughs.


First point of discussion...

All of the announced squads can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/44083365

Any thoughts on the squads so far?

Surely Panama have called up Adalberto Carrasquilla too soon?

-----------------------------

First Poll Result:

Who will win the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

Deutschland 30%
Brasil 12%
Belgie/Belgique 9%
Portugal 5%
Argentina 2%
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Svizra 1%
France 13%
España 5%
England 9%
Other (explain) 14%
Last edited by The Archregimancy on Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby The Archregimancy » Sat May 19, 2018 8:19 am

In retrospect, perhaps a month before kick off was a little too early to get this thread up and running.

But still, let's try some group predictions so I can be humiliated in public in a few weeks' time when these turn out to have been horribly wrong. I've placed the teams in the order I expect them to finish.

Group A:

Uruguay
Egypt

Russia
Saudi Arabia

Hosts often get relatively gentle groups, and - Uruguay aside - up until fairly recently Russia might have fancied their chances in this company despite being the weakest hosts since South Africa (admittedly only two tournaments ago). But you might have noticed that Liverpool have an Egyptian forward who's been doing rather well this season. A lot will come down to whether the Russian defence can stop Mo Salah (and 10 other Egyptians) in St. Petersburg. I'm not convinced they can.


Group B:

Spain
Portugal

Morocco
Iran

Anyone expecting anything other than an Iberian 1-2 in this group is presumably Moroccan or Iranian.


Group C:

France
Denmark

Peru
Australia

Much as the heart would genuinely like to see Peru to do well in their first World Cup appearance in over 30 years, the confirmation of a lifetime doping ban for captain Paolo Guerrero can't have helped preparations; that and the head says European sides should usually be favoured in Europe. This Australia side doesn't stand a chance.


Group D:

Argentina
Nigeria

Croatia
Iceland

I know I've just written that the head says European sides should usually be favoured in Europe, but I like this Nigerian group. Yes, sub-Saharan sides have been failing to live up to World Cup expectations for decades, but Nigeria qualified easily out of an African group of death, and seem uncharacteristically stable. They've also beaten Argentina in Russia and Poland in Warsaw (admittedly in friendlies) since qualifying (though they also lost to Serbia in London) - so I'll give them a vote of confidence, and then assume that Lionel Messi and Co. will do better in the Cup proper than they did in qualification.


Group E:

Brazil
Switzerland

Costa Rica
Serbia

First in the group seems a foregone conclusion. Second is a little trickier, and any of the other three could snatch the spot. I'm going to hope that good Switzerland turn up rather than stultifyingly dull Switzerland. I really can't see Costa Rica repeating their heroics of four years ago, though they'll give anyone problems on a good day. On paper, Serbia are the weakest team in the group.


Group F:

Germany
Sweden

Mexico
South Korea

As with Group E, first is as close to a foregone conclusion as they come. I'd genuinely like Mexico to do well, but on the 'favour the European side in Europe' principle, I'll pick Sweden in second - though this is one group where I hope to be proven wrong. It will be a bad tournament for Asian sides, though South Korea have the potential to cause an upset.


Group G:

Belgium
England

Tunisia
Panama

I secretly suspect that Belgium are in the same position as England have been in the recent past - of having players who look really good in the English Premiership, which raises expectations (not necessarily with any real reason, but that's a separate discussion), but who then struggle on the global stage; they should still be good enough to top the group. As for England themselves, for once they're going into the World Cup with reasonably realistic media expectations; and if they can't get out of this group, they really should give up. They'll likely simultaneously disappoint while doing just enough to scrape through to the second round following a dreary 1-0 victory over Panama via a last gasp injury time own goal from an unlucky Panamanian.


Group H:

Poland
Colombia

Senegal
Japan

This is the best Polish side since the 1980s, and they'll be playing relatively close to home (conceding that it's a fairly long way to Volgograd and Kazan; but I stress the 'relatively'). A lot will come down to the Colombia-Senegal match, and I suspect Colombia have enough to see off the Senegalese. I'm not expecting a good tournament for Asian sides, so will write off Japan (though I'm sure their fans will be lovely).

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Postby Neu Leonstein » Sat May 19, 2018 8:26 am

After they announced the draw, I wrote a couple of blog posts trying to do a bit of quantitative analysis on the tournament. I never did the third one of the series. What I need to get it done is probably a bit of encouragement, so if anyone is interested in seeing an update/the introduction of uncertainty, let me know!

Part 1 was about comparing this tournament to previous ones.

Part 2 was about who had a lucky draw and who didn't.

Image

TL;DR:
The red line is how difficult the group opponents are: the further to the right, the harder. The histogram shows the distribution of the difficulty of groups that the team could have faced, given where the rules of the draw. If you're a more low-ranked team, you're likely to be playing against tougher opposition, because the draw is set up such that there are some strong and some weak teams in every group.

Given that, a lucky draw is one where the red line is as far towards the left-hand tail of the distribution as possible.
Last edited by Neu Leonstein on Sat May 19, 2018 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Shofercia » Sat May 19, 2018 5:37 pm

Alright, Predictions!

Group A: Uruguay and Russia
Group B: Spain and Portugal
Group C: France and Peru
Group D: Argentina and Croatia
Group E: Brazil and Costa Rica
Group F: Germany and Sweden
Group G: Belgium and Tunisia
Group H: Poland and Colombia
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Postby Bombadil » Sat May 19, 2018 7:03 pm

Well..

Let's face it, France and Germany have a poor history in Russia, expect them to advance some way into the tournament and then get bogged down in a game with terrible weather and lose heavily. Having said that, this is in Summer so perhaps time for victory in Russia.. to be honest I expect a France-Germany final draw permitting.

I don't see South America teams doing too well, I think Brazil are still suspect and Argentina are all over the place. However I will go against the Nazi-fighting Archeologist Arch's prediction for Peru and say they'll make it through the rounds. Iceland might do a little better than last in their group as well.

Spain could be great or they could niggle their way to a QF defeat..

..beyond that, and not having Italy or The Netherlands in this.. kind of opens up.

So I'll go against all recent history, despair and disappointment and give England a shot this time.. reality is they'll probably scrape 3rd in their group with a few fans unfortunately left in hospital.

Semi-Final Predictions..

France
Germany
Poland
Spain
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Postby Geneviev » Sat May 19, 2018 8:59 pm

I said Germany on the poll, because my country. Also because we are the best at football. In all fairness, Brasil may have a chance though.

Anyways, this will be fun.
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Postby Farnhamia » Sat May 19, 2018 11:04 pm

*unfurls American flag* Rather than bemoan the sport's growing popularity (is it growing?), I'll just mention the odd fact that while almost every schoolchild in the US plays soccer in grade school, the sport isn't all that popular. You would think that with annual indoctrination, year after year, the kids would grow up to love it. I mean, we even have a class of women called "soccer moms," and it's not because they enjoy playing the game themselves. *carefully folds up flag* Right, well, carry on.
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Postby MERIZoC » Sun May 20, 2018 1:26 am

It will hurt not having Dani Alvez but I think we've still got a really good shot at it. Best team Brazil has had since 2002 imo
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Postby The Archregimancy » Sun May 20, 2018 2:05 am

Farnhamia wrote:*unfurls American flag* Rather than bemoan the sport's growing popularity (is it growing?)


Compared to the 1980s, yes.

I was in the US for the 1982 World Cup. I could watch the occasional match on PBS at odd times of the day. By 1986 (most of which I spent in Iceland, though I was in the US for the last couple of matches), the final was on network television. In neither case did anyone in the US beyond a die-hard core of soccer supporters particularly notice the USA's absence.

1994 was a turning point. The sport is now increasingly mainstream in the United States, there's an established and stable professional league with respectable attendance figures, NBC broadcast English league games on free to air network television on the weekends, and the USA's absence from Russia will be noticed, lamented even, by a fair few people. Of course it isn't NFL/MLB/NBA popular across the US as a whole, but compare the sport's situation in the country now to where it was in the early 1980s, and it's undeniably more visible and popular.

The US television ratings for 2018 will almost certainly be lower than they were in 2014, but that will itself reflect the country's absence from the tournament.

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Postby The Archregimancy » Sun May 20, 2018 2:15 am

Neu Leonstein wrote:After they announced the draw, I wrote a couple of blog posts trying to do a bit of quantitative analysis on the tournament. I never did the third one of the series. What I need to get it done is probably a bit of encouragement, so if anyone is interested in seeing an update/the introduction of uncertainty, let me know!


By all means!

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Postby Trumptonium1 » Sun May 20, 2018 3:31 am

Why are Chile and Poland not on the poll and why is England there?

Either way I think Argentina, Belgium or Poland. I'll be damned if Belgium doesn't at least reach the semis with their current squad. Argentina and Poland good all-rounders, latter being an underdog along with Switzerland. But I've seen Switzerland play Portugal and they were demolished.

Also Salah might pull Egypt out of their group. Uruguay is at a historic weak point atm.
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Postby The Archregimancy » Sun May 20, 2018 3:35 am

Trumptonium1 wrote:Why are Chile and Poland not on the poll and why is England there?


Chile aren't on the poll for the same reason that Italy and the Netherlands aren't on the poll; because Chile didn't qualify.

As to the other options, it's all clearly outlined in the OP:

The Archregimancy wrote:The current poll's been set to stop around the first game; I'm more interested in seeing the poll results before matches get underway properly.

And the options? Strictly FIFA rankings only for 1-8; blame FIFA, not me. Option 9 (with apologies to the higher-ranked Poland, Peru, and Denmark) is for the laughs



Trumptonium1 wrote:Uruguay is at a historic weak point atm.


That would presumably be the same Uruguay that finished a comfortable second in South American qualification - ahead of Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Chile - easily their best-ever qualifying performance in the current South American qualification format, coming after four consecutive 5th-placed finishes. The current qualification format was introduced in 1998, when Uruguay finished a dismal 7th, well off the qualification pace. In 1994 they failed to qualify after finishing third behind Bolivia in a group of five. So while this may not be Uruguay's best-ever team, it clearly isn't a 'historic weak point' either.
Last edited by The Archregimancy on Sun May 20, 2018 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby The Derpy Democratic Republic Of Herp » Sun May 20, 2018 3:40 am

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Postby Nazis in Space » Sun May 20, 2018 3:44 am

For the record, I do not actually appreciate Löw's man shaft.

Now, Müller or Boateng...

(It'd have been Klose first and always, but those times are over :()

(So happy I'm remembered after making maybe a dozen posts in the past four years, though!)

Anyway. Surprised I'm the first to throw in a vote for France. Virtually everywhere else on the internet that I visit fancies them as the most likely winner.

Granted, it's France, so a meltdown, subsaharan Africa style can always happen, but still. If it doesn't, they have a killer squad of killers who kill.

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Postby Audioslavia » Sun May 20, 2018 4:08 am

Bold predictions:

    * Australia score one goal or less over their three games and go out in the first round due to having zero options up front. Their manager, Bert Van Whatshisface, is rightly pilloried for not putting Jamie MacLaren (Australia's greatest ever footballer) in the squad.
    * The ball will be criticized for being too round
    * Even though it's 2018, someone will dab
    * Spain matches are dogged by suspect refereeing, but nobody really notices until their second-round defeat to Russia.
    * Iceland don't get out of their group, so all the Scots will have to revert to supporting Anyone But England
    * England lose to the first big team they face, which will be Germany in the quarters.
    * Mexico lose to Brazil in the second round, as is tradition
    * There'll be 5+ goals in the Denmark vs Belgium semi-final
    * There'll be zero goals in the France vs Germany semi-final
    * VAR will cause chaos in both semi-finals.
    * Germany win the World Cup again.

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Postby Bombadil » Sun May 20, 2018 4:19 am

Audioslavia wrote:Bold predictions:

* Australia score one goal or less over their three games and go out in the first round due to having zero options up front. Their manager, Bert Van Whatshisface, is rightly pilloried for not putting Jamie MacLaren (Australia's greatest ever footballer) in the squad.


Australia done for ball tampering when caught adding vaseline to one side prior to a free kick,

* The ball will be criticized for being too round


Trump demands the ball is oval and thrown with the hand otherwise he'll note those countries that hate America.

* Even though it's 2018, someone will dab


I.. I don't know what this means..

* Spain matches are dogged by suspect refereeing, but nobody really notices until their second-round defeat to Russia.


This might not be so bold.. I was there in South Korea.. I was there..

* Iceland don't get out of their group, so all the Scots will have to revert to supporting Anyone But England


Iceland switch all players surnames ending in 'son' with 'dottir' and confusion reigns

* England lose to the first big team they face, which will be Germany in the quarters.


Yup.

* Mexico lose to Brazil in the second round, as is tradition


Trump places sanctions on Brazil as the clearly don't support the US-Can-Mex World Cup.

* There'll be 5+ goals in the Denmark vs Belgium semi-final


Except no one in those two teams can score..

* There'll be zero goals in the France vs Germany semi-final


Except everyone in those two teams can score..

* VAR will cause chaos in both semi-finals.


This will be the BIGGEST story of the WC, well that and violence..

* Germany win the World Cup again.


God knows we split that country into two and they still won before unification so.. sadly probably true.
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Postby Neu Leonstein » Sun May 20, 2018 4:55 am

The Archregimancy wrote:
Neu Leonstein wrote:After they announced the draw, I wrote a couple of blog posts trying to do a bit of quantitative analysis on the tournament. I never did the third one of the series. What I need to get it done is probably a bit of encouragement, so if anyone is interested in seeing an update/the introduction of uncertainty, let me know!

By all means!

Ok: Analysing the World Cup 2018, Part 3: I just ran 10,000 World Cups

So there are my thoroughly unimaginative predictions (number represents percentage chances of getting that far):
Image

(let me know if you spot anything that looks like it might be an error - I was pretty tired last night when I put most of this together)
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Postby Bombadil » Sun May 20, 2018 6:03 am

Neu Leonstein wrote:
The Archregimancy wrote:By all means!

Ok: Analysing the World Cup 2018, Part 3: I just ran 10,000 World Cups

So there are my thoroughly unimaginative predictions (number represents percentage chances of getting that far):
Image

(let me know if you spot anything that looks like it might be an error - I was pretty tired last night when I put most of this together)


As NiS has noted you've severely underweighted France - player for player in position they should be very high - I'll go through your data tomorrow but at this point, looking solely at the results you've a huge amount of bias in there.
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Postby Risottia » Sun May 20, 2018 6:10 am

Germany so far looks like the best team around, but I wouldn't discount Spain and France either.
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Postby Bombadil » Sun May 20, 2018 6:15 am

Bombadil wrote:
Neu Leonstein wrote:Ok: Analysing the World Cup 2018, Part 3: I just ran 10,000 World Cups

So there are my thoroughly unimaginative predictions (number represents percentage chances of getting that far):
(Image)

(let me know if you spot anything that looks like it might be an error - I was pretty tired last night when I put most of this together)


As NiS has noted you've severely underweighted France - player for player in position they should be very high - I'll go through your data tomorrow but at this point, looking solely at the results you've a huge amount of bias in there.


EDIT: That may very well not be your bias but a degree of historical bias if you're running all WC numbers.
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Postby Idzequitch » Sun May 20, 2018 6:20 am

I'm cheering for anyone but Brazil or Germany. So one of them will probably win.
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Postby Trumptonium1 » Sun May 20, 2018 6:22 am

The Archregimancy wrote:
Trumptonium1 wrote:Why are Chile and Poland not on the poll and why is England there?


Chile aren't on the poll for the same reason that Italy and the Netherlands aren't on the poll; because Chile didn't qualify.

As to the other options, it's all clearly outlined in the OP:


Oops my bad, I forgot Peru is in instead. Chile is the sort of team you expect to automatically be in anyway. The Dutch were big news but the Chileans more muted.

The Archregimancy wrote:
Trumptonium1 wrote:Uruguay is at a historic weak point atm.


That would presumably be the same Uruguay that finished a comfortable second in South American qualification - ahead of Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Chile - easily their best-ever qualifying performance in the current South American qualification format, coming after four consecutive 5th-placed finishes. The current qualification format was introduced in 1998, when Uruguay finished a dismal 7th, well off the qualification pace. In 1994 they failed to qualify after finishing third behind Bolivia in a group of five. So while this may not be Uruguay's best-ever team, it clearly isn't a 'historic weak point' either.


I'm simply looking at their squad. Neither Cavani or Suarez are as good as they were the year before or the year before that, while Cavani was marred by a serious hip injury that ruled him out of crucial PSG CL matches. They are not particularly blessed in goal with the demise of Muslera, and they picked a vague sub who has barely ever played in before since his first cap in '09. They've obviously got their two Atletico starlets, but that's about the entire depth of the squad.

I may have to eat my hat, but I don't think Uruguay will be getting through the group stage if Salah performs. I think ruling out Russia is a rather weird thing to do.
Last edited by Trumptonium1 on Sun May 20, 2018 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Neu Leonstein » Sun May 20, 2018 6:49 am

Bombadil wrote:
Bombadil wrote:As NiS has noted you've severely underweighted France - player for player in position they should be very high - I'll go through your data tomorrow but at this point, looking solely at the results you've a huge amount of bias in there.


EDIT: That may very well not be your bias but a degree of historical bias if you're running all WC numbers.

Assuming that I didn't mess up the code somewhere, there are a couple of things going on. The first is the ELO scores. I didn't use FIFA ones, both because I think they're bad and because the draw was based on them, so using them to analyse the draw would be a bit recursive. France has a 1984, which is pretty high, but a bit below the top-ranks like Brazil (2131) and Germany (2092). Plus, there are a few teams with similar scores to France in that follow-up pack.

The second issue is that France doesn't have an easy draw. Assuming that they top the group, their next opponent is the runner-up of group D, which is probably Croatia (1853). Then it'll be a choice of Spain, Portugal or Uruguay. And after that Brazil and Germany.

They can win all those matches, but the problem is that to win them all in a row often enough to show up as a significant proportion of total tournament victories they need a number of positive net shocks to happen in a row. It just so happened that when I ran my simulations, they didn't get those very often. Again, assuming that everything worked as intended. I worked through a couple of loops step by step to try and make sure the logic works as it's supposed to, but there are no guarantees. I'm still learning.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I agree with you. France is probably a better chance than the ELO scores give it credit for, and I think Brazil is a substantially smaller chance than the ELO scores imply. But I kept my own views out of this as much as possible.
Last edited by Neu Leonstein on Sun May 20, 2018 6:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Nazis in Space
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Nazis in Space » Sun May 20, 2018 7:36 am

Risottia wrote:Germany so far looks like the best team around, but I wouldn't discount Spain and France either.

Italy is always good for a run, t-

... oh, wait <_<

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Painisia
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Painisia » Sun May 20, 2018 7:37 am

What are Argentina`s chances in this World Cup?

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