The ‘Copa de Zebra’ revisited

As we reported earlier this week, the 2014 World Cup has been termed the ‘Copa de Zebra’ in Brazil where zebra refers to results being unexpected. Although six of the 16 teams who have progressed to the second round could be termed surprising, there have actually been very few surprise results in Brazil and 14 of the 16 survivors had at least around 40% chance of reaching this stage. The only truly surprising teams in the second round are Algeria and Costa Rica.

Using the Infostrada Sports Forecast model, it is possible to assess surprise results and surprise qualifiers as all matches and teams were assigned probabilities of happening before the World Cup began. As draws in football never have more than around a 30% chance of taking place, we have looked at only the probabilities of a team winning or not winning to identify surprises. For major shocks, the probability of what actually took place needs to be below 30%. This has been the case for just six matches, all of which took place in the first nine days of the competition. Five of the six were fixtures in Groups B and D so there was only one major shock in the other six groups, Brazil’s failure to beat Mexico in their second Group A match.



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