Thursday, September 17, 2009

CONMEBOL Qualification: Post Matchday 16

Sorry for the delay. I got caught up in some of the other stuff. In the future I'll try to get things up within the next day or two.

I watched most of Paraguay - Argentina. The 1-0 scoreline does no justice to how much better Paraguay looked. My view before was that Argentina were struggling a bit but in no real trouble to qualify. Now they sit in the playoff spot and frankly do not look like able to pull themselves out of it. Costa Rica have been struggling as well, but while Argentina would clearly be favorites I don't think you can consider a playoff close to a lock. As a player I love Diego and think he was the best to ever play the game. I'm far from sold on his skills as a manager, though. It's easy to read too much from short-term results, many including me thought this about Mexico for example, but it seems to be more than just variance.


Brazil 4 - 2 Chile
Venezuela 3 - 1 Peru
Paraguay 1 - 0 Argentina
Uruguay 3 - 1 Colombia
Bolivia 1 - 3 Ecuador

Ignoring the Argentina match, the teams that needed strong results to stay in contention got them. Ecuador's win put them into fourth place. With the solid home win, Uruguay have turned it into a 3-horse race for two spots: one automatic, one a playoff, most likely with Costa Rica.

Here is the table:

With two matches to go, here are the schedules:

Chile: Colombia away, Ecuador home
Ecuador: Uruguay home, Chile away
Argentina: Peru home, Uruguay away
Uruguay: Ecuador away, Argentina home

Ecuador and Uruguay clearly have the harder schedules out of the three. Because Uruguay plays both, all three teams control their own destiny in the sense that they will at least make the top 5 if they win both of their matches.

Poisson Predictions

Brazil and Paraguay are in. Chile are also effectively in. They made the top 4 in 9,975 out of 10,000 simulations. The Chilenos are guaranteed at least a playoff spot and any draw by them or draw or loss for Argentina sees them through in the top 4. On the flip side, Bolivia and Peru are eliminated and Colombia and Venezuela very close to it. Both have a less than 1% chance at a top 4 finish and between 2 and 3% for fifth place.

I'll focus on the middle three. Here are the percentages for each of qualifying automatically with that 4th spot:

Uruguay - 35.2%
Ecuador - 34.7%
Argentina - 29.1%

Here are the chances of finishing 5th:

Argentina - 54.5%
Ecuador - 24.6%
Uruguay - 15.3%

Finally, here are the overall qualification percentages, assuming the playoff is a coin flip. As I hinted at above and mentioned in a previous article, I think any of these teams would be a favorite against Costa Rica. I think for Argentina you can add as much as 10% because they are so likely to make the playoff.

Argentina - 56.4%
Ecuador - 47.0%
Uruguay - 42.9%

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