Friday, April 26, 2013

Predictions: CONMEBOL qualifying

I will assign totals for the likelihood of a given outcome based on my analyses, predictions and premonitions about all remaining matches in the CONMEBOL qualifying group.

Once the percentages are assigned to each outcome, each match's result will be generated from a selection of one number between 1 and 100.  The home team's numbers will come first, then the tie, then the road team's numbers.  For example, a home team with 50% chance to win, 40% to tie, and 10% chance to lose will have the following numbers assigned to each outcome: 1-50 for win, 51-90 for tie, 91-100 for loss.

CONMEBOL Matchday 13
Bolivia host Venezuela at altitude.  The supposed fortress at La Paz has been under siege so far during this qualifying campaign, with Bolivia defeating only last-place Paraguay and slumping Uruguay for a 2-2-2 home record.  Venezuela won in their last two trips to La Paz.

Bolivia: 30   Tie: 30   Venezuela: 40

Argentina host Colombia in the middle of winter.  Argentina have only one loss in eleven qualifying matches, and that was in October 2011.  Argentina have won five of six home matches, and the one draw to Bolivia was due to referee error.  Colombia are a strong road team with three wins out of five matches, but this is Argentina of which we speak.

Argentina: 85   Tie: 13   Colombia: 2

Paraguay host Chile at Defensores del Chaco stadium.  Paraguay have shown little heart in this qualification campaing, but they have played only four home games against seven road games so far.  Chile have a 2-0 win already against Paraguay in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, along with two wins from six road matches.  Chile are averse to ties, so three points should be had here.

Paraguay: 38   Tie: 2   Chile: 60

Peru host red-hot Ecuador.  However, Ecuador's record is a bit deceiving and has been built on the backs of six home wins.  Ecuador have no wins in four road games, though they do have two ties.  Peru are historically very strong at home and so far have a 3-1-1 record, including a home win over Chile in their previous outing.

Peru: 55   Tie: 35   Ecuador: 10

CONMEBOL Matchday 14
Colombia host Peru on the heels of what is likely to be a two-game losing streak.  However, Colombia have been superb in their last three home games, winning by a combined margin of 11-0.  Peru are not a good road team and have four losses and one draw as visitors so far.

Colombia: 93   Tie: 5   Peru: 2

Ecuador host Argentina with their perfect home record on the line against the best team in CONMEBOL.  Argentina have a 2-2-1 road record with the sole loss coming at Venezuela in October 2011.  Ecuador did defeat Argentina in this fixture 2-0 in 2009.

Ecuador: 41   Tie: 34   Argentina: 25

Venezuela host Uruguay in the middle of summer.  Uruguay will be coming off a bye, but Luis Suarez is suspended for the match.  These teams have played to three consecutive ties.  Uruguay have been awful on the road with four losses and only one draw so far, and that was to last-place Paraguay.  Venezuela's record at home is 3-1-1.

Venezuela: 63   Tie: 34   Uruguay: 3

Chile host Bolivia.  Bolivia's road record is ugly.  They have four losses and their only draw was aided by referee error.  They are pretty much a lost cause away from La Paz.  Chile do have two home losses from five matches, but their opponents on those days were Argentina and Colombia, not Bolivia.

Chile: 97   Tie: 2   Bolivia: 1

CONMEBOL Matchday 15
Paraguay host Bolivia in Asuncion.  These are the two teams currently at the bottom of the standings.  Bolivia are not good away from home, but Paraguay are decidedly mediocre everywhere.  However, Paraguay are 2-1-1 at home having faced only one of the big three at home so far.

Paraguay: 79   Tie: 19   Bolivia: 2

Chile host Venezuela in the most pivotal of all remaining showdowns in CONMEBOL as the two teams fight for fourth-place and the final direct ticket to Brasil 2014.  These teams drew this fixture 2-2 in 2009, and Venezuela defeated Chile 2-1 in Copa America 2011 in Mendoza, Argentina, which is on the border with Chile.  However, Chile did win 2-0 against Venezuela already in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  Chile are the only South American team that have yet to tie in this tournament.

Chile: 55   Tie: 20   Venezuela: 25

Peru host Uruguay.  It seems likely that Uruguay's slide into obscurity will be ongoing coming into this match, and the fact that they gave up two goals to Peru in Uruguay back in June 2012 does not bode well for their defense going into Lima.  Peru's attack is always potent at home.

Peru: 67  Tie: 23   Uruguay: 10

Colombia host Ecuador.  Colombia have only had two matches not end in victory at home, but those two were against contenders Venezuela and Argentina.  Ecuador are most definitely a contender, but Colombia score a lot at home since the year 2012.  Colombia won this fixture 2-0 in 2009.

Colombia: 61   Tie: 30   Ecuador: 9

CONMEBOL Matchday 16
Uruguay host Colombia.  Colombia already smashed Uruguay 4-0 in this tournament to throw Uruguay into a tailspin from which they have yet to recover.  Uruguay are undefeated so far at home in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with three wins and three 1-1 draws.  When Uruguay win, they score four goals at home.  Uruguay need this match a lot more than do Colombia in terms of making it to Brasil 2014.

Uruguay: 43   Tie: 43   Colombia: 14

Bolivia host Ecuador.  Ecuador needed a very questionable penalty call to go their way in order to defeat Bolivia 1-0 earlier in the tournament.  Bolivia are always solid at home, though less so during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  Ecuador got a 3-1 win here in 2009.

Bolivia: 30   Tie: 40   Ecuador: 40

Paraguay host Argentina who will be coming off a bye.  Traditionally, this was always a riveting fixture, but with the slippage in Paraguay's quality and the sheer dominance of Argentina, perhaps some of the shine has worn off here.

Paraguay: 12   Tie: 21   Argentina: 67

Venezuela host Peru.  Venezuela have always seemed to be victimized by Peru away from home, as evidenced by their 2-1 loss in Lima earlier in the tournament and their 4-1 defeat in Copa America 2011.  However, Venezuela have four straight competitive home wins against Peru, including the 2007 Copa America and three qualifying matches.

Venezuela: 84   Tie: 14   Peru: 2

CONMEBOL Matchday 17
Argentina host Peru.  By this time, Argentina should have clinched a berth at Brasil 2014 and Peru should only be clinging to the slightest of hopes.  A loss in Argentina should be enough to extinguish that home on this penultimate matchday.

Argentina: 94   Tie: 5   Peru: 1

Ecuador host Uruguay at altitude.  Uruguay were able to win here 2-1 in 2009 in one of the most shocking results of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, thereby keeping Uruguay's hopes alive on their way to an eventual fourth-place finish at South Africa 2010.  This tournament has been a lot different, however, as Ecuador have recaptured their form from the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.

Ecuador: 88   Tie: 6   Uruguay: 6

Colombia host Chile.  Chile are the hardest team to predict as they hover around a .500 win percentage both home and away.  Colombia have not dropped points at home since 2011.

Colombia: 73   Tie: 5   Chile: 22

Venezuela host Paraguay.  Venezuela defeated Paraguay on the road for the first time ever during this tournament, and they did so by a 2-0 scoreline.  That was the only match in which Venezuela have scored multiple goals so far in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and a lack of goals may undo all the stellar defensive work they have put in should they not qualify.  Paraguay did win this fixture in 2009.

Venezuela: 82   Tie: 11   Paraguay: 7

CONMEBOL Matchday 18
Uruguay host Argentina in a border battle.  Argentina will be motivated as they look to avenge their elimination at home in Copa America 2011 at the hands of Uruguay with a win on the road.  Argentina were able to secure a win in this fixture in 2009.

Uruguay: 26   Tie: 30   Argentina: 44

Paraguay host Colombia in what is likely to be a dead rubber.  Paraguay will be eliminated and Colombia will be in Brasil 2014.  Colombia were able to win 2-0 in a dead rubber here in 2009.

Paraguay: 40   Tie: 20   Colombia: 40

Chile face Ecuador.  The implications of this match could be enormous, with a possibility that both teams would need to collect points in order to clinch direct berths to Brasil 2014.  Ecuador have already beaten Chile 3-1 during this tournament, but Chile eliminated Ecuador from South Africa 2010 contention in this fixture with a 1-0 victory in 2009.  Chile have not fared so well against the power teams at home in this tournament, losing to Argentina and Colombia.

Chile: 55  Tie: 3  Ecuador: 42

Peru host Bolivia, who will be coming off a bye for this likely dead rubber.  One of the best home teams will be playing perhaps the weakest road team on the continent.

Peru: 90   Tie: 8   Bolivia: 2 Results

Every result was run through the random generator for fifty iterations of the qualification cycle.  What follows are the average outcomes and range extremes over the fifty iterations.  The top four teams go directly to Brasil 2014 with the fifth-place team going to the intercontinental playoffs.

Average Final Standings: (Median point total in parentheses)
Argentina 34.26 (34)
Colombia 28.68 (29)
Ecuador 28.12 (29)
Venezuela 24.56 (24.5)
Chile 23.96 (24)
Peru 18.5 (18)
Uruguay 17.14 (17)
Paraguay 14.02 (14)
Bolivia 12.04 (12)

Chance of Direct Qualification: (Chance of going to intercontinental playoffs in parentheses)
Argentina 50
Colombia 50
Ecuador 46 (4)
Venezuela 26 (22)
Chile 28 (20)
Peru 0 (2)
Uruguay 0 (2)
Paraguay 0
Bolivia 0

It is strange to note that although Venezuela achieved a higher average point total, Chile were more likely to secure direct qualification.

Highest and Lowest Point Totals:
Argentina 39 / 31
Colombia 34 / 24
Ecuador 33 / 23
Venezuela 31 / 19
Chile 30 / 18
Peru 23 / 13
Uruguay 23 / 13
Paraguay 20 / 9
Bolivia 16 / 9

The takeaway is that Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador will be at Brasil 2014, where they will be joined by the winner of the coin flip between Venezuela and Chile.  The loser of that coin flip will be going to the intercontinental playoffs to face the fifth-place team from Asia.  I would bet on all five teams being present at Brasil 2014.

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