Thursday, October 8, 2009

CONMEBOL - Matchday 17 Preview

Like the other confederations, it's getting down to the wire in the CONMEBOL with the final two matchdays this week. Here's the current table.

Here's a quick breakdown for each team:
Brazil and Paraguay are 100% qualified.

Chile need a win or two draws to get there mathematically. They could also get in Saturday if both Argentina and Venezuela fail to win their matches. In practice, it may be possible for Argentina to catch them if Maradona's boys get two wins and Chile a draw and a loss but it would depend on the scorelines. Right now Chile are up 6 in goal differential so if their loss and the Argentina wins are by multiple goals then they could drop. In this bad scenario, Ecuador would also have to beat Uruguay Saturday to drop the Chilenos down to the playoff spot. The playoff or better is all-but guaranteed. Chile are certain to finish above either Ecuador or Uruguay so they could only be eliminated in sixth if Argentina and Venezuela catch them. Right now Chile are 6 points ahead of Venezuela and up 12 goals in goal differential so Venezuela passing them isn't realistic. In summary, Chile are effectively in the playoff round right now and one more point quite likely will do the job and two more points or any draw or loss by Argentina puts them through automatically.

Ecuador are in a great spot but have a tough schedule ahead. They host Uruguay and then travel south to Chile on Wednesday. Their fate largely rests in their own hands. If they lose both then they will almost certainly be eliminated, not even making the playoff round. With two wins they are obviously in. With a draw and a win they are guaranteed at least a playoff spot but would depend on the Uruguay - Argentina result to make it automatically. Two draws or a draw and a loss and they do a lot of scoreboard watching. With two draws they could be anywhere from automatically in (if Argentina get a draw or loss Saturday and Uruguay - Argentina ends in a draw) to completely out (if Argentina beat Peru Saturday and Uruguay beat Argentina).

Argentina can guarantee at least a playoff spot with a win in Uruguay Wednesday. To qualify automatically they need for Ecuador to get at least one point fewer in their last two matches and to keep Uruguay from passing them. In other words, they can get in with two wins if Ecuador slip up at all and could get in with a draw and a win if Ecuador get two draws, a win and a loss, or two losses.

Despite being in 6th right now, Uruguay can guarantee a spot in South Africa with two wins. Of potential importance, Uruguay should easily win the tiebreaker with any combination of Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia because they are currently +8 in goal differential. Therefore, a draw against Ecuador and a win over Argentina would put the Uruguayos in at least fifth, fourth if Ecuador fail to beat Chile. A win against Ecuador and a draw against Argentina is not nearly as good; Uruguay would be out if Argentina beat Peru and Ecuador beat Chile.

Venezuela and Colombia can possibly get in but will need a lot of help even to make the playoff. Both face a brutal schedule: Venezuela host Paraguay and then travel to Campo Grande, Brazil while Colombia play at home against Chile and then travel to Paraguay.

Group Prediction

The PLM gives the following probabilities:

Top 4:
Brazil - 100%
Paraguay - 100%
Chile - 99.9%
Argentina - 44.3%
Uruguay - 32.2%
Ecuador - 21.8%
Colombia - 1.4%
Venezuela - 0.4%

Ecuador - 32.2%
Argentina - 31.5%
Uruguay - 27.2%
Colombia - 6.1%
Venezuela - 2.8%
Chile - 0.1%

Top 5 (automatic or playoff):
Brazil - 100%
Paraguay - 100%
Chile - 100%
Argentina - 75.9%
Uruguay - 59.4%
Ecuador - 54.0%
Colombia - 7.6%
Venezuela - 3.2%

Keep in mind that these predictions do not take into account teams having nothing to play for. As a result, I think Ecuador will be more likely than the model predicts because their match in Chile may be a friendly for the home side.

Match Predictions

Colombia - Chile:
Colombia win: 34.7%
Draw: 39.1%
Chile win: 26.3%
Most likely scoreline: 0-0

Ecuador - Uruguay:
Ecuador win: 42.1%
Draw: 30.8%
Uruguay win: 27.1%
Most likely scoreline: 1-1

Argentina - Peru
Argentina win: 81.3%
Draw: 15.4%
Peru win: 3.3%
Most likely scoreline: 2-0

Venezuela - Paraguay
Venezuela win: 31.4%
Draw: 34.1%
Paraguay win: 34.5%
Most likely scoreline: 1-1

Bolivia - Brazil
Bolivia win: 7.7%
Draw: 20.0%
Brazil win: 72.4%
Most likely scoreline: 0-2

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