E&T World Cup blog: day twenty five, Holland vs Spain – the World Cup Final

So here we are: the World Cup Final. After a month of titillatingly unpredictable football (England’s anti-climactic early exit notwithstanding) we have but one game left: the  final game in every sense. Holland vs Spain. Who will win the World Cup?

With a little over half an hour until kick off, the time for talking is over, even if TV coverage has already started and the time for talking as far as they’re concerned is clearly a long way from any conclusion and may continue long after the final Final final whistle.

Shortly, two teams will take to the field: 11 men on each side, two goals, one ball, a shared purpose and ambition but with clearly divergent intent. And someone definitely has to win. That Jules Rimet trophy is going to get a good hoisting tonight. No chance of a draw – or tie game, as the Americans call it. This is precisely their kind of soccer match, albeit without the enlarged goals and extra time out periods: there will be a winner and a loser at the end, the boundaries clearly defined, and that is guaranteed.

Our panel has come a long way since predicting the result of South Africa vs Mexico way back on match day one. It’s been an incredible journey, to use the parlance of today’s bafflingly popular Britain’s Got Celebrity Talent Factor On Ice-style TV shows. Tomorrow, we’ll have the final tally of prediction scores and see how each panelist has done, but let’s not delay matters any longer tonight.

Here are today’s predictions from our panel:

  • Dr Ian McHale, a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Salford: “For the final I have re-run my model. It makes Holland the favourites with a 55.8% probabiltiy of winning. However, this probability is calculated using Spain’s opening loss as information. It is such a close call. Hmmm….my heart says Spain but the model says Holland…I am going to go for Spain, but note the model goes for Holland.”
  • David Williams, head of PR at Ladbrokes: “Holland will win 3-0. Holland will finally bear oranges and the fruit will be the fruit of total football, mark 2.”
  • Chris Day, goalkeeper for Stevenage FC: “Spain to move in to fourth gear and win 2-1.”
  • Laura Daligan, ‘psychic, artist and pin-up’: “I think Spain will clearly win the World Cup.”

Well, kind of a mixed bag, there. Two definites for Spain, one definite for Holland and one mathematical model pointing to Holland, but the applied statistics brain behind that model siding towards Spain. These are just predictions, of course – what will the reality be? Why not add your comments and predictions below?

Remember: this is just for fun and all predictions are for entertainment only. Any mortgages lost or other sums squandered based on the information supplied are your own responsibility! And yes, I will keep mentioning this every day. Well, for one more day at least.

Incidentally, if you want to read our magazine feature on the science of football prediction, I can heartily recommend it. If you’re not much of a reader, wear your eyeballs out on the accompanying football predictions video.


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