RWC2019: The South Africa Problem

My initial attempt to base some RWC Outright probabilities on something tangible like previous results fell well short. Especially when it came to South Africa. It failed to identify the improvement in South Africa since their latest Head Coach appointment. The improvement is self evident. Previously they have received routine thumpings from New Zealand for example 57-0 in 2017. Since the Head Coach replacement they've played NZ 3 times. The aggregate score is 82-82, after 1 win 1 draw and 1 defeat. It would seem that the results post March 2018 are much more relevant when assessing South Africa. This drastically reduces my sample size for them (just 12 matches vs Big 6). So although using less matches I'll use extra information from those matches. In other words instead of a binary win/defeat I will use Points Differences. This will help capture the relative strengths better and close matches will get the reward they deserve. 

So here it is: 

PWDLAvg PDP[W]P[WWW]Dec OddsMatchbo…

The Best Bet for RWC 2019

Ireland will face the winner or runner up of Pool B. That will be either New Zealand or South Africa depending on which order they finish. It's likely to be England/Wales or Australia in the semi final.  Then for the Final one of those five again - whichever they have managed to avoid so far. It will require beating the caliber of the Top 6 in the world, not just once, but THREE times consecutively.

So what should be Ireland's expectation? How has their win rate been in the past versus this standard of opposition? Including the 2015 RWC and all matches since Ireland have played these teams 22 times (6 vs WAL, 5 vs ENG, 4 vs SA, 4 vs AUS, 3 vs NZ) and winning 12 times. That's about a 55% win rate. If Ireland have won 55% of past meetings, then they could expect to win 55% of  future meetings. This is the same as saying they have a 55% chance of winning a single once off match. So 3-in-a-row?  The Maths would say 55% x 55% x 55% = 17%. So that's it. That is the probabilit…

Escape to Path A

Ireland must put everything into achieving direct qualification by securing a Top 2 position. This will bypass the headache of a difficult playoff and give them a better seeding for the Finals (probably Pot 2 for winning the group, probably Pot 3 for runner up). Qualification via the playoff only earns Pot 4.

The playoffs will be a headache. No matter how you form a Path with Ireland and 3 other League B teams then Ireland would be 3rd or 4th ranked in that Path. That simply means a single leg semi final versus a higher ranked League B team, followed by a single leg final against another League B team (home/away decided by draw), and unless N. Ireland scramble their way to a Path B final then again it will be a higher ranked team for Ireland. They would likely be underdog for both matches and maybe away for both matches too. Imagine Slovakia (or Wales) vs Ireland with the winner playing Bosnia - this is one of the most likely scenarios at the moment.

That is why I will talk about escapi…

This could get complicated

This is a "blogging out loud" article./* Scenario details below the summaries.Summary --------- Scenario 1: Ireland auto qualify Scenario 2: Locked in to playing Slovakia away and a final vs Bosnia or N. Ireland. Scenario 3: 25% chance to escape Path B and play Hungary/Romania at home and a final vs another Bulgaria/Israel/Hungary 75% chance still locked into Path B as a lower seed so away vs Bosnia, Slovakia or Turkey. UEFA might block the escape option for IRE as hosts to ensure Path B has a Host, Path C will already have Scotland and Path A will take the overflow Hungary or/and Romania. All hosts. UEFA may pick the teams to stay in their Path by Rank, in which case Ireland would stay and N. Ireland would be the team to escape. Scenario 4: 25% chance to escape Path B and play Hungary/Israel at home and a final vs another Iceland, Israel or Hungary 75% chance still locked into Path B as a lower seed so away vs Bosnia, Slova…

Lets skip the playoffs please

Path AIcelandPath BBosnia (GW)SlovakiaIrelandN. IrelandPath CScotland (GW)Norway (GW)Serbia (GW)BulgariaIsraelHungaryRomaniaPath DGeorgiaMacedoniaKosovoBelarusAs things stand, and based on the betting markets the teams involved would be the ones listed. I am going to focus on this scenario as the base scenario and then look at a few "what ifs". I am not predicting that this is exactly the playoff teams because its just one scenario of maybe one hundred combinations. Yes it's the more probable than any other individual scenarios, but that doesn't make it probable - more later on how it could change. You will see that some of the changes at least will be materially the same except maybe replacing Slovakia with Wales, or Austria in the below paragraphs.

In the base scenario (most likely going by betting markets):
 * 50% chance Ireland would be in Iceland's playoff Path.
 * 50% chance Ireland would be in Bosnia's playoff Path.
 * 40% chance Ireland would  have an awa…

Nations League (Euro Qualification)

An update on the current standings in terms of who is "likely" to qualify directly, and then who would make the playoffs based on their Nations League finish - first discussed in this post.

Basically all the Top 32 (20 automatic qualifiers + 12 playoff places) plus Group Winners from League D are likely to make at least a playoff.

If one of the Nations outside the top 32 qualify automatically (Kosovo, Slovenia, Greece, Montenegro most likely) then the Top 32 will start losing their playoff place one at a time (starting with Romania, then Hungary, then Israel, then Bulgaria).

League ATeamB365
(Top 2)Projected1PortugalGW1.200Auto2NetherlandsGW1.083Auto3EnglandGW1.002Auto4SwitzerlandGW1.250Auto5Belgium1.002Auto6