International Rankings Royale (Pre-World Cup)

Welcome back to the Royale. The summer is a little more busy for me so this will be one of the few posts over the next couple months. If you're looking for a little bit more Bill Reno, take a look at my article that somehow ended up on Paste Magazine's new online soccer site, The 10 Best Goalkeepers at the World Cup. I know, I know, Howard didn't make the list but I make a good argument why he doesn't. So feel free to read that first before you send rude tweets my way.

Last year after May, there were 329 games and this year with the World Cup on the horizon, it's no surprise that we've only seen 216 at this point. We don't have any qualifiers this year and the only tournaments pre-World Cup are teams not attending. Still, that gives us enough games to take a look at the ranking systems. A little bit of a refresher of what last year's results looked like.

2013 Results
921 matches

ELO - 1448 (1.572 per game)
FIFA - 1506 (1.635 per game)
SPI - 1519 (1.649 per game)

For a more complete look at the stats and history behind this project, check out the 2013 results.

2014 Results (so far)
216 matches

SPI - 327 (1.514 per game)
ELO - 333 (1.544 per game)
WGF - 360 (1.667 per game)
FIFA - 362 (1.676 per game)

If you forgot, We Global Football has now entered the scene.

SPI has really upped its game, dropping their GDD by 8%, and even the newbie WGF is doing a little better than FIFA's system. But all these games include friendlies when managers are tinkering with changes. Or perhaps a team didn't send their first team selection so they're playing with their B team. I've been tracking the tournament games, typically more competitive, but oddly enough the rankings are less accurate in 2014.

2014 Competitive Results (non-friendlies, so far)
65 matches

ELO - 106 (1.633)
SPI - 108 (1.664)
WGF - 115 (1.766)
FIFA - 129 (1.984)

I didn't keep track of competitive games for 2013 and it'd be a real pain to go back and label each 2013 match one-by-one. Instead I just labeled intra-confederation games (i.e. UEFA vs UEFA). The intra-confed 2013 results were fairly close to all matches for 2013.

2013 Intra-Confederation Results
774 matches

ELO - 1213 (1.567)
FIFA - 1250 (1.615)
SPI - 1257 (1.624)

My best guess for why the competitive results for 2014 are so off is because the main teams playing competitive matches this year are non-World Cup teams, which are weaker, more erratic teams with a wider talent gap between their opposition. We'll see relatively closely ranked teams compete at the World Cup (most teams being within 30 ranks) but the results of the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualification could be anyone's best guess.

All that to say, the winner of the 2014 International Rankings Royale will likely be based on which system is more accurate with the minnows than the World Cup nations.