The World Cup: academic predictions and gambling markets

Mr Graham Daniels

Posted: July 12, 2014

Dr Nicolas Scelles and his team of researchers at Stirling University made several predictions about the World Cup, and the results of specific matches. Several of Dr Scelles’ predictions appear in postings on The Scorecard.

In response to these predictions, I have been tracking what would have happened if these predictions had been used by gamblers.

Figures are quoted to a £1.00 level stakes bet struck in correct score markets for every group stage match and the three knockout stage fixtures correctly predicted by the team.

Group stages

Six correct scorelines were predicted from the 48 group games:

Chile 3 Australia 1 – 15/1 BetVictor

Ivory Coast 2 Japan 1 – 11/1 Ladbrokes

Argentina 2 Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 – 17/2 Ladbrokes

Ghana 1 USA 2 – 12/1 Ladbrokes

Australia 0 Spain 3 – 13/2 Paddy Power

Portugal 2 Ghana 1 – 8/1 Ladbrokes / BetVictor


Win strike-rate:  6/48 – 12.5%

Outlay: £48

Return: £67

Profit: £19

Profit as % of turnover: 39.58%


Knockout stages

The team correctly predicted 8 of the 16 teams to reach the knockout stages of the competition (50%) and correctly predicted the group finishing position of 5 of those 8 teams.

Three knockout fixtures were correctly predicted:

Brazil v. Chile

Brazil v. Colombia

Brazil v. Germany


One correct score was predicted:

Brazil 2 Colombia 1 – 17/2 BetVictor / Coral


Win strike rate: 1/3 – 33.3%

Outlay: £3

Return: £9.50

Profit: £6.50

Profit as % of turnover: 216.6%


Total competition

Win strike rate: 7/51 – 13.73%

Outlay: £51

Return: £76.50

Profit: £25.50

Profit as % of turnover: 50%

As a footnote, a couple of random points of interest…

All group game prices were recorded before a ball was kicked in the competition. Using the Oddschecker site as a comparison tool, Ladbrokes were best or joint-best priced on 31 of the 48 matches (64.58%);

Brazil 1 Germany 7 was a score most could never foresee but Paddy Power reported four winning bets in the UK with one £5 wager recorded at 500/1;

Finally, spare a thought for the Ladbrokes punter who placed a £2 bet on Brazil 0 Germany 7 at odds of 1,000/1.


About Graham Daniels

Graham Daniels holds a MSc in IT for Management and works in the Lanchester Library, Coventry University. He is interested in the use of statistical models to predict the outcomes of sporting events and their deployment in the development of a profitable betting strategy. He is a follower of National Hunt racing.