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Friday, August 19, 2011

FIFA Ranking: It's up to Spain to claim first place

If Spain win against both Chile and Liechtenstein they will return to the top.

If Netherlands win against both San Marino and Finland and Spain tie Chile and defeat Liechtenstein, both teams will be tied for 1st in the FIFA rankings.

Assuming Spain win against Liechtenstein and Netherlands against San Marino, then this is how the totals can change:

Netherlands (L: 1480, D: 1510, W: 1571)
Spain (L: 1554, D: 1571, W: 1605)

If Spain lose against Chile, Netherlands need to win against Finland to remain alone at the top.

I ran 10000 simulations for the matches taking place between now and October 12th.

September ranking

Netherlands alone at the top - 10.27%
Tied with Spain - 17.11%
In second place behind Spain - 72.62%

October ranking

Netherlands alone at the top - 17.98%
Tied with Spain in 0.07%
In second place behind Spain - 81.95%

Netherlands 1st (or tied for 1st) in both September and October - 8.1%

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. Edgar,
    Always enjoy your simulations (as well as all your other posts). Here's a simulation request (if you have sufficient time and interest): it would be great to see a simulation for the quickly approaching CONCACAF first group stage.
    All the best!

  2. Dorian,

    I'll look into it next week, but Elo doesn't lend itself to group stage simulations - because it can (for now) only determine the outcome (W/D/L), not the score/goal difference.

  3. Edgar,

    I'm guessing the score/goal difference is needed when two teams are tied for total points (e.g. Grenada and Guatemala each have 15 points). Without goals, could ties be settled in the simulation by either a coin flip (50/50 random) or be assigned 0.5 to one position and 0.5 to the other position (e.g. 0.5 to 1st place and 0.5% to second place)?

    Out of curiosity, do you have an opinion about using ESPN SPI versus Elo?


  4. Edgar,

    Is this the first time Uruguay gets to be CONMEBOL's best ranked team?

    Thank you!

  5. Ah well, it was fun on top for as long as it lasted, LOL!

  6. It's not so unthinkable you know, Holland and Spain tied for 1st place in the september rankings. Chile is a tough opponent, and it is a friendly match.

    There's still hope for Holland that their reign will last longer than one month.

  7. @Dorian

    OK, I'll give it a try next week - a couple of hours before the qualifiers kick-off.


    Yes, first time ever.


    Yes, it's actually something I'm looking forward to see. Two teams tied for 1st place in the rankings.

  8. If my calculations are correct (sometimes they're off though) it will be very tight for 1st place if Holland win both qualifiers and Spain win their qualifier, but draw with Chile.

    Looking at the decimal points, Holland will have a total of 1570,80551 points, whereas Spain will have 1570,80232 points. A difference of just 0,00319 points in favour of Holland.

    Can you confirm if this is correct, Edgar?

  9. @Tobcoach

    You are correct (I think). I didn't look at the decimals, but both will have 1571 points in this scenario.

  10. @Dorian

    Forgot to answer your SPI question. It scores big in my book because it's iterative, has offense/defense and it includes squad strength.

    However, tends to be too complex - match factor for each competition and it's affected by how team members perform in the UEFA Champions League.

    Obviously, I use Elo because I know the system behind it and can compute it if needed.