Germany’s Loss to Mexico Shows Difficulty of Repeating as World Cup Champs

germany-mexico-world-cupGermany comes into the 2018 World Cup looking to defend their title. But they’ve gotten off to a rocky start in their quest to do so.

The Germans lost to Mexico 1-0 in Sunday’s match. This puts Germany last in their group, and they’ll need at least a win and a draw in their next two matches.

Many expect the Germans to still make it out of Group F — despite it being considered the 2018 Cup’s “Group of Death.” But if they don’t advance far in the World Cup, then they won’t be the first defending champion to do so.

Let’s look at how poorly some recent champions have fared in trying to repeat as champs. Also keep in mind that you can bet on World Cup matches and futures here at GTBets.

No World Cup Champ has Defended Their Title in 56 Years

germany-mexico-world-cup-1Pele’s Brazilian team beat Czechoslovakia in the 1962 World Cup, thus defending their title from 1958. Little did Pele know that his squad would be the last to do so for the next five-plus decades.

Defending champs haven’t just failed to repeat since then —they’ve actually done badly. This is especially the case in recent years, with the 2010 and 2014 champions going out in the group stage.

Germany coach Joachim Low believes that his team is different, saying, “That shouldn’t happen to us.” But recent history doesn’t inspire much confidence in this statement.

Their loss to Mexico puts Germany’s backs to the wall. They play a tough Sweden squad, which is leading Group F after a victory over South Korea. And the South Koreans don’t have a bad team either, ranking 57th in the world.

A Look Back at Previous Defending Champs

Here’s the history on how defending World Cup winners have done in their repeat attempts since Brazil defended in 1962:

1966, Brazil – Pele and the Brazilians tried for no. 3 in a row. But their star was hurt in an opening win over Bulgaria. They lost their next two matches against Hungary and Portugal to go out in the group stage.

1970, England – After defeating West Germany to win the 1966 World Cup, England once again faced their nemesis in the 1970 Cup final. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but lost 3-2 in overtime.

1974, Brazil – The Brazilians barely made it out of the group round. Their World Cup ended in the second round (four-team round robin) with a defining 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.

1978, West Germany – The West Germans made it out of the first group stage. But they lost all of their second-round group matches against Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands.

1982, Argentina – Diego Maradona’s debut at the World Cup didn’t necessarily mark success. Argentina advanced out of the group stage. However, they lost in the second round group stage with defeats to Brazil and Italy.

1986, Italy – This year marked the World Cup’s switch to a single-elimination format after first-round group play. Italy finished second in their group and were defeated by France in the Round of 16.

1990, Argentina – Maradona led his team to the 1986 Cup title. He nearly did it again in 1990, but was denied with a 1-0 loss to Germany in the final.

1994, Germany – This German team lost 2-1 in the quarterfinals to Bulgaria. Later, coach Berti Vogts would say his squad “wasn’t a true team.”

1998, Brazil – The Brazilians made it to the final against host country France. But Ronaldo got sick before the match and played poorly en route to a 3-0 loss.

2002, France – After the upset victory over Brazil on their home soil, the French were a huge letdown four years later. They failed to score a single goal in group play and were bounced with losses to Denmark and Senegal.

2006, Brazil – This year marked a replay of the 1998 Cup Final. France’s Thierry Henry netted the winner that stopped Brazil short on yet another repeat attempt.

2010, Italy – A loss to Slovakia, and draws to Paraguay and South Africa ensured that Italy didn’t make it out of group play.

2014, Spain – La Roja had a horrible start after losing 5-1 to the Netherlands. A 2-0 loss to Chile in the next match sealed their fate. The Spaniards at least went out with a 3-0 victory over Australia.

Goldman Sachs AI Predicts Brazil will Win World Cup – Uses 1 Million Simulations

brazil-world-cup-2018Several countries enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a good chance to win. And this makes it tough to predict a winner when looking at World Cup futures. But if you’re looking for help when betting on the future champ, then consider the results from Goldman Sachs’ artificial intelligence program.

The investment firm’s AI used machine learning to create 200,000 models, which come from mining data on players and teams to predict match scores. After going through 1 million variations of the World Cup, Goldman Sachs has determined that Brazil will win the tournament.

AI Shows Match Scores in 2018 World Cup Bracket

The picture shown below features the match results predicted by Goldman Sachs. The numbers listed next to each country dictate whether each team beats its opponent. These numbers also predict the unrounded number of goals scored in each potential iteration of the event.

goldman-sachs-brazil-champ-world-cup

An unnamed member of Goldman Sachs’ research team wrote about the interesting model that they used to predict the World Cup matches and final results.

“We are drawn to machine learning models because they can sift through a large number of possible explanatory variables to produce more accurate forecasts than conventional alternatives,” wrote the employee.

More World Cup Findings from Goldman Sachs

You can see some of the other interesting findings from Goldman Sachs below:

  • Brazil is expected to win its sixth World Cup. The AI predicts that they’ll beat Germany in the championship by an unrounded score of 1.70 to 1.41.
  • France actually maintains the second-highest odds of winning. But their semi-final meeting with Brazil gives them less of a chance to win than Germany, which wouldn’t face the Brazilians until the final.
  • Argentina and Spain — two of the world’s best teams — are expected to fall short of expectations and lose in the quarterfinals.
  • England — one of the most-publicized teams — should have a strong World Cup run. But they’re predicted to lose to Germany in the quarterfinals.
  • Saudi Arabia could be the Cup’s biggest Cinderella, advancing out of their group stage in spite of their lowish world ranking.
  • Russia, the host country, isn’t predicted to make it past the group stage. They’re expected to be upset by Saudi Arabia.

Anything can Happen

Using data from Goldman Sachs’ AI is definitely an interesting way to look at the 2018 World Cup. But you can’t guarantee anything from a betting standpoint just by using results from the program. An author from the study cautions this with the following statement:

“We capture the stochastic nature of the tournament carefully using state-of-the-art statistical methods and we consider a lot of information in doing so. But the forecasts remain highly uncertain, even with the fanciest statistical techniques, simply because football is quite an unpredictable game. This is, of course, precisely why the World Cup will be so exciting to watch.”

2018 World Cup Futures

As covered above, Brazil is expected to take home the World Cup crown this year. And if you’re confident in the Goldman Sachs AI, then you can bet on Brazil through our GTBets World Cup futures.

Also note that you can wager on any of the other favorites too, including Germany, France, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, and England.

2018 World Cup Betting: Klinsmann eyes Final Four

usa-czech-republic-soccerThe US Men’s National Team has officially begun their journey to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They defeated the Czech Republic in Prague last night by a score of 1-0. Alejandro Bedoya scored a goal in the 39th minute to propel the US to victory. ‘”It just shows that the States has a deeper pool,” said Bedoya. “There’s a bunch of great, young, talented players coming through.”

America had better have some young, talented players coming through if they’re to meet head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s lofty goals. As many soccer fans know, USA made it out of the “Group of Death” in this summer’s World Cup. They finished second behind Germany in pool play, while Portugal and Ghana were sent home. However, the Americans’ dreams ended in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to Belgium.

“Once you get out of the most difficult group in the World Cup, you should go further than just Round of 16,’’ Klinsmann told the Boston Globe. “This is our goal going toward Russia, not to stop at the Round of 16, maybe not to stop at the quarterfinal, to say clearly, listen: We have four years to prepare for this cycle. Our goal is going into a semifinal in a World Cup. And that means a lot of work, a lot of competition, a lot of grind.”

jurgen-klinsmannWith four years before the Russian-hosted 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann has plenty of time to prepare younger players. Much has already been made about budding stars like Julian Green, the 19-year-old who scored against Belgium, and John Brooks, the 21-year-old defender who scored the go-ahead goal in a victory over Ghana. However, there were some new faces in the lineup against the Czechs.

18-year-old midfielder Emerson Hyndman made his first national appearance, as did 21-year-old forward Joe Gyau and 23-year-old defender Greg Garza. Klinsmann spoke about the youth movement by saying, “It was important to see what is coming through in our talent pool. For 65, 70 minutes, it went really well.”

One player who was noticeably absent from the starting lineup was Tim Howard. The famed goalkeeper has decided to take a well-deserved year off from international play. However, even at age 35, many expect him to be manning the net for USA when the 2018 World Cup arrives.

Mistakes or No Mistakes, Jurgen Klinsmann started a USA Soccer Revolution

jurgen-klinsmann-usa-soccer-passionThe year was 1994 and the United States was hosting the World Cup. Although USA was largely unpassionate about soccer up to this point, enthusiasm caught on as defender Alexi Lalas, goalie Tony Meola, midfeilder Claudio Renya and forward Eric Wynalda carried the Americans into the Round of 16. They’d lose 1-0 in a hard-fought match against the eventual champion Brazil, but Team USA had definitely created the first signs of life for American soccer in decades. Unfortunately, interest would wane in subsequent years and soccer remained a second-tier sport in the United States.

Fast-forward to today and it seems that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has reignited the flames that burned so brightly 20 years ago. Most didn’t expect USA to make it out of their group, which included Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Nevertheless, they played well enough to advance along with Germany and make it to the Round of 16. Here they pushed Belgium to extra time, before losing 2-1 in a commendable effort.

So here we stand again with soccer passion at an all-time high in America. But the big question is, can we expect the enthusiasm to actually have some substance past the World Cup? Moreover, will USA youth start putting more practice time into the game, and will sports fans pay more attention to Major League Soccer and other leagues around the world? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding “yes” thanks to Klinsmann.

Headline Grabber

jurgen-klinsmannTwo months ago, many Americans could’ve cared less if USA went scoreless in the 2014 World Cup. In fact, some of the biggest naysayers thought this was an entirely possible scenario. Then Klinsmann went into action, grabbing mainstream headlines at a point when many are focused on the NBA Playoffs, baseball spring training and NFL offseason team activities.

First, he cut Landon Donovan from the US Men’s National Team roster. This was significant because the 32-year-old is America’s all-time leading goal scorer, and it seemed as if he had at least one more good World Cup in him. Many coaches would’ve kept Donovan simply out of respect or because they still think he has plenty of talent. Klinsmann, however, thought that USA’s soccer hero was lacking in the motivation department and promptly cut him.

The German-born coach earned more headlines when he used Kobe Bryant to explain why he doesn’t believe in honoring past player accomplishments. “This always happens in America,” he told the New York Times. “Kobe Bryant, for example – why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”

These comments got attention from the Black Mamba himself as Bryant responded by saying that Klinsmann’s comments were “comical.” He added that ownership groups want to look like they’re rewarding players for what they’ve done while balancing the team going forward. The idea is to make one’s team an attractive place for top free agents to consider.

One more big story that Klinsmann provided was saying that his team “cannot win” the World Cup. This brutal bit of honesty ruffled a few American feathers because it’s not part of the Red, White and Blue’s culture to ever give up or concede victory – no matter how unrealistic victory seems. It turns out Klinsmann was right, though, as his side looked overmatched in their final two games against Germany and Belgium.

Criticized but Relevant

jurgen-klinsmann-usa-soccer-passion-1Following America’s exit from the Cup, Donovan took this opportunity to deliver a thinly-veiled attack on the head man. After an LA Galaxy practice, the snubbed forward told media members the following:

I think the most disappointing is we didn’t seem like we gave it a real effort, from a tactical standpoint. I thought the guys did everything they could, they did everything that was asked of them, but I don’t think we were set up to succeed yesterday, and that was tough to watch.

If you really look at the performances, there were some good performances by guys, some not-so-good performances by guys. As a whole, I think tactically, the team was not set up to succeed. They were set up in a way that was opposite from what they’ve been the past couple years, which is opening up, passing, attacking – trying to do that. And the team’s been successful that way. Why they decided to switch that in the World Cup, none of us will know.

Michael was put in the wrong position. He was put in a position that he’s not used to playing. He does a better job, as you saw with Julian Green’s goal, being in a deeper position. And having someone in a front of him, someone to help Clint also, makes him that much better because he’s got more opportunity to pick out different passes, more attacking options ahead of him. I think that was clearly an error.

Maybe there is some truth to what Donovan said since Bradley and Dempsey did struggle a bit in their expanded roles. But then again, maybe Donovan is speaking out of bitterness and the injury to striker Jozy Altidore forced Klinsmann to make some adjustments to an already lacking-offensive team.

Even if Klinsmann did make some mistakes, though, one can’t deny the huge impact that he’s had on American soccer already. He got people to care and he’s proven to be a media-friendly presence.

Klinsmann’s contract runs on through the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He’s not obligated to remain with the team this long, but we can only hope that the German does choose to stay and keep bringing excitement to US soccer in the future.