The South American World Cup

Now that Paraguay has advanced on penalties, I think we can safely say that this is the World Cup of South America. 4 of the 8 teams in the quarterfinals are South American. Only 4.5 teams qualify from South America, so that’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider that Brazil beat the 5th team, Chile, in the round of 16.

How do 4.5 teams qualify? 5th place in South America plays 4th place in North America for a spot in the World Cup.

Considering that 6 African teams qualified and didn’t get great results on their home continent*, FIFA is definitely going to have to look at the number of teams qualifying from those continents.

In some ways, the fascinating thing to me is how Euro teams haven’t performed very well. Of course, 3 of the 8 teams will be European, but Euro teams have always performed distinctly when the World Cup is outside of Europe. A Euro country has never won the World Cup, except when it is held in Europe. Crazy.

Nate Silver has argued that the African teams should be expected to have a home field advantage of something about or under .5 goals if I recall correctly, but we didn’t really seem to see too much evidence of that (with a nod to the small sample size), so perhaps some of the advantage is hemispheric? Hard to say for sure without running numbers, though that seems unlikely. Perhaps it is just that the Euro advantage is nullified by having the World Cup in a neutral location. Even so, it seems like the Euro teams have little time zone adjustment compared to the South American teams in South Africa.

It’s certainly possible that it is just variance. Brazil is Brazil, Argentina is Argentina and got a good draw, Paraguay got a good draw, and Chile’s wasn’t bad either. Uruguay got a tough draw though, and still toughed it out to win their group.


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