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Friday, April 12, 2013

10000 sims on the road to Brazil

Remember Voros McCracken's "Road to South Africa"? I was a very faithful reader, but Voros seems to be out of the picture for now. On 1 September 2011, he announced he will be writing for ESPN Insider.

I really wanted to do something similar for the 2014 FIFA World Cup final draw seeding, but I never had the time to create an offense / defense rating system to use it to generate results. Three weeks after Voros made the announcement regarding ESPN Insider, HÃ¥kon (one of my readers) suggested calculating the expected goals from the Elo expected winning percentange.
Two weeks ago I ended up on Sim the World (Amir's blog) and found this post where Amir explained the expected goals formula, its author being Lars Schiefler from

The formula is explained in this article. Thanks Lars for sharing the formula!

Assuming the October 2013 FIFA ranking will be used to seed the teams for the final draw, I had to simulate all the matches between now and October 2013. Add to that the play-offs in order to determine all the qualified teams. This means I had to simulate the Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup, the World Cup qualifiers and all the friendlies.

I've made a couple of assumptions besides the one above:

 - Northern Ireland - Russia will be played on 11 June.
 - The African play-offs will be seeded using the September 2013 FIFA ranking
 - The European play-offs will be seeded using the October 2013 FIFA ranking

It was an interesting exercise (for me at least) and, God willing, I will update it after each match day.

Here's the outcome:

2013 FIFA Confederations Cup simulations
2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup simulations
2014 FIFA World Cup seeding simulations for the African play-offs
2014 FIFA World Cup seeding simulations for the European play-offs
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification chances
2014 FIFA World Cup final seeding simulations

and as bonus

2016 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying draw pots simulations

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, FIFA announced today the Northern Ireland vs. Russia match will be played on August 14. See

    Very interesting post by the way. For me, a 1-time simulation is enough, for now...

    1. Thanks Toboach,

      I will adjust the fixtures in the next update.

  2. That's a lot of numbers, Edgar. Interesting though, thanks !

    On a side note, the 'difficulties' around the inclusion of CHAN-qualifiers in the fixture list have started: Nigeria - Cote d'Ivoire this July/August has already been excluded. I expect some more matches to follow.

    1. Nigeria pulled out citing financial issues.

  3. Edgar,

    Truly great work! Thank you!

  4. Super number crunching Edgar, truly great work. Thank you

  5. Wow, thanks a lot!
    (and thanks for the credit as well)