World Cup predictions with Excel and Bing!

World Cup predictions with Excel and Bing! 2nd July 2018

At the time of writing, England’s Football World Cup dreams are still very much alive. This was actually predicted by Michael Molyneaux, Program Manager for Excel, and his team more than a month ago [1]. But what about other 2018 World Cup predictions?

Michael and his colleagues developed an Excel-model where they, among other techniques, are using a Poisson Distribution [2] to determine the probability of a team scoring a goal during a match and they have also incorporated Football Elo ratings [3] to determine the expectancy of a team winning a game.

As you can see in the picture, the model predicted a match between England and Colombia as part of the round of 16.

World Cup predictions 2018

The match was played on Tuesday 3 July and according to the model developed by Michael and his Excel-team, England is a bit more likely to win than Colombia.

And the model got it right!

When Models of Reality fail

However, the model is far from perfect. Germany, the current World Champions, were supposed to clash with Brazil for the 2018 World Cup title, but, as you probably know, Germany didn’t even make it past the group stage.

Similarly, Russia qualified to the Quarter-Finals after beating Spain, but they were not even considered good enough to make it past the group stage by Michael and his team’s model.

That’s just some of those real-life events that wreak havoc with carefully constructed models of reality. It is easy to get it wrong.

Even if you deploy a team of 18 analysts to develop a model and then run 10,000 computer simulations of the tournament you can still get it wrong – as UBS did shortly before the tournament started [4]. Their predicted World Cup winner? Germany.

You can change the outcome

If you think you are smarter than UBS and the Excel team, you can download Microsoft’s spreadsheet [5] and adjust the model according to your superior football knowledge (or maybe just guess?).

You can change the parameters used by increasing or decreasing the baseline set by the developers and also change the ranking of the teams.

Bing’s World Cup Predictions

If that is too much tweaking and fiddling, you can just use Bing instead to predict the outcome of the upcoming matches. Just search for “World Cup predictions” and Bing will give you it’s own predictions of the upcoming matches.

Bing was actually quite successful in predicting match winners in the knockout stages of World Cup 2014 [6], so maybe you should check Bing before you make a quick bet with your friends?

We will know which team is the World Champion in Football on 15 July.

We will also know how well various predictions have fared.

My prediction is that no one gets it 100 percent correct.

P.S. Please don’t mention Denmark’s penalty shoot-out against Croatia. I am still recovering from that defeat.
P.P.S. If you saw Denmark playing against France, I want to apologise for the most boring 0-0 match ever. Sorry!

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[1] How We Built our Soccer Tournament Predictor in Excel
[2] Poisson distribution
[3] World Football ELO Ratings
[4] Germany Will Win the World Cup, UBS Says After 10,000 Simulations
[5] Download: Excel Winner Predictor
[6] Microsoft Bing beats Google in World Cup predictions

Dan Mygind

Author: Dan Mygind

Dan is a Journalist and Computer Scientist with a strong interest in technology, technology-related businesses, and the transforming effect source code can have on society.
He has worked for startups, SMEs and global IT-organisations such as IBM as a developer, consultant, and IT-architect. With a solid technology background, he has written extensively for a wide variety of publications such as Computerworld as well as writing technical white papers for Microsoft and other companies.
He is also a published author, ‘World Storytellers

Contact Dan Mygind: mygind{at}writeit{dot}dk

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

One Response to “World Cup predictions with Excel and Bing!”

  1. Ash

    Wow, this is pretty cool.
    It’s quite a different picture in reality to what the predictions were though… but this World Cup has been full of surprises + a healthy dose of excitement and drama to boot!

    I’m glad it thinks England will beat Colombia tonight! 🙂

    (Too early to sing “It’s coming home…”!?)


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