Before a ball was kicked in Brazil, few would have guessed that the entertaining yet flawed Chilean side, managed by Jorge Sampaoli, would stand much of a chance of getting through the group stage. Coming up against two of the big beasts of world football in the form of reigning champions Spain and the Netherlands, qualification seemed a little unlikely.
However, using plenty of logic and number-crunching, Countdown star Rachel Riley has used all of her mathematical skills to work out the winner of this year’s tournament, choosing the South Americans as the most likely winner. Using previous performances and form during the World Cup qualifiers, she identified Chile as possible champions.
Rachel took all manner of things into account before reaching a conclusion. Aside from recent and historical form in the World Cup, qualifying and friendlies, she also considered geography, goal averages, pre-tournament hype and even the performance of individual players such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez. Chile are considered to be dark horses at best, as they were four years ago.
As for England, before their disappointing exit, Rachel didn’t make much of their chances. She worked out that the past seven winners all averaged 2.1 goals per game in qualifying. Although Roy Hodgson’s men averaged three per game before making Brazil 2014, their high scoring ratio ruled them out of the running. It’s just as well that they did actually go out with a game to spare!
Rachel, who has a great degree in maths from Oxford, also considered something else when trying to pick a winner. She learned that when the World Cup has been played in South America, no-one from outside the continent has ever managed to lift the fabled Jules Rimet trophy. She also worked out that being the host nation was something of a jinx, thereby ruling Brazil out!
Chile’s odds will have come down significantly, even though they face Brazil in the last 16. Ladbrokes have plenty of stats detailing how both teams measure against one another, including their head-to-head records, but who will win this all-South American tussle?