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  1. #1
    Brain dead MUG SHEEP Easy 10's Avatar
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    Switzerland are currently the 4th best team in the World...


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    ....according to FIFA. I'll just leave that there.

    Goodnight.
    "But you accept that there is an increased risk of vehicle/bat collision"

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    • #2
      Members Bigtomfu's Avatar
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      There's a great article in the times explaining how such nations game the system to ensure the best chance of being seeded in World Cups etc.

      Can't link it as it's no longer free but it won't surprise you to know The FA aren't progressive enough to bother.

      Guess they need to stick to being content with being in a group of death and losing then.
    • #3
      Members Is it PotG?'s Avatar
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      10 Not allowed!
      Quote Originally Posted by Bigtomfu View Post
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      Guess they need to stick to being content with being in a group of death and losing then.
      I agree, all the time we draw powerhouses such as Iceland in these major tournaments we have no chance.
    • #4
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      & Poland 5th (just thrashed 4-0 by 46th ranked Denmark) hmmmm
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    • #5
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      16 Not allowed!
      This explains a few things about rankings:

      From The Times today

      Why England shouldn't play friendlies, how Wales got seeded in the Euros..this article did if for me!!! (slightly anorak like) How England threw away being seeded in Brazil.

      In April 2013, an unsolicited email dropped into the general inbox of the Football Association. The message was from a Romanian computer programmer named Eduard Ranghiuc and it contained a number of dire warnings.
      On no account, Ranghiuc urged, should England fulfil their commitment to play two friendly matches against Brazil and Ireland; if they absolutely had to play the matches, they should effectively scupper them by making more than the permitted six substitutions. Naturally, the FA ignored Ranghiuc’s email. Here is the thing, though: they really should not have.
      What Ranghiuc had discovered was a loophole in the oft-criticised but nevertheless highly influential Fifa rankings. They work by awarding points to national teams for each match they play, with the number of points dependent on four factors: the result of the match; the strength of the opposing team; the strength of the opponent’s confederation; and crucially, the importance of the match. A friendly win earns you only 40 per cent of the points you get for beating the same team in tournament qualifying.
      To rise up the rankings you don’t just have to play well; you have to play the system
      As some teams play more matches than others, the ranking is based not on the total points earned, but the average points per match. The upshot, as Ranghiuc realised but the FA did not, is that playing friendlies, even if you win, lowers your average and hurts your ranking. That may not really matter, if it was not for the fact that Fifa uses the rankings to determine the seedings for the World Cup.
      With two months to go before the seeds for the 2018 World Cup are decided, the rankings have a perhaps surprising look. Switzerland and Poland lie fourth and fifth respectively, in line to be seeded, while perennial major-tournament contenders France, Spain and Italy are below the waterline in 10th, 11th and 12th. England are one place further back. This inverting of the traditional hierarchy reflects, in part, the excellent recent form of Switzerland and Poland, two improving teams, and the inconsistencies of the traditional powers. But it also rewards and punishes something else entirely. In the past 12 months, Switzerland and Poland have played just one friendly apiece; England have played three, Spain and Italy four, and France five. To rise up the rankings, you do not just have to play well; you have to play the system.
      Rewind to 2013. Sure enough, England pressed ahead with the friendlies, drawing with Brazil and Ireland, and subsequently playing another friendly against Scotland, which they won. These results fatefully lowered England’s average by 67 points. Had they not played them, England would have been ranked seventh at the cut-off date for the 2014 World Cup draw, high enough to earn a seeding. Instead they were ranked tenth and pitched into a hellish group from which they never emerged. In a world of marginal gains, this should probably have been enough to induce the blazers to rethink their pre-tournament planning. But, four years on, in the lead-up to next summer’s World Cup, England have once again shot themselves in the foot.
      In the past ten months, England have played three friendlies: a 2-2 draw with Spain, a 1-0 defeat by Germany and a 3-2 defeat by France. (The rankings are weighted such that results in the past 12 months have a 100 per cent weighting, those in the previous 12 months have a 50 per cent weighting, then 30 per cent, then 20 per cent.) For these, they collected, respectively, 188.1, 0 and 0 points. It is worth noting, too, that defeats always count for nothing — you get no more credit for a narrow loss to Germany than you do for getting whooped 4-0 by Estonia.
      Nothing is as damaging to your ranking as losing matches; and nothing is so unnecessarily damaging as losing friendlies. England’s points average for the past 12 months is 476.85; take out those friendly results and it would be 683.93. (And by the way, 476.85 is bad: England’s performances over the past 12 months have earned them less credit than Iran or the Democratic Republic of Congo.) With those extra 207.08 points, England would be ranked six places higher, in seventh, and in line for a World Cup seeding. Here’s the kicker, though: even if England had won all three of those matches — even if they had routed Spain, thrashed the world champions and humiliated the Euro 2016 runners-up with three consecutive Gary Cahill hat-tricks — their past-12-months average would only be 647.68, worse than if they had simply spent those three match-days sitting on the sofa.
      The Fifa rankings reward nothing so much as strategic inactivity, and no-one has mastered the art quite like Switzerland. In the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, they vaulted up the rankings by submitting to a streamlined diet of three friendlies in the 12 months before the seeding cut-off, while hapless England gorged themselves on five. This time, the Swiss have doubled down. A low-key 1-0 win over Belarus in June is set to be their only friendly in the 12-month period before the seeds are determined in October. Likewise Poland, who restricted themselves to a solitary friendly against Slovenia in November last year.
      With an overwhelming preponderance of competitive matches, their points averages for the past 12 months are huge: 854.72 and 798.08 respectively. Now let’s say the Swiss FA had decided to test their team with two additional friendlies — for example, against Croatia in November and Austria in March. Say they had beaten Austria and lost to Croatia: they would be 135.16 points worse off and five places lower in the rankings. Or say they had won both matches: they would be 74.44 points worse off, enough to drop them three places. The value of keeping your powder dry is enormous.
      For an object lesson in this principle, the FA needs to look no further than just across Offa’s Dyke. In June 2014, after losing a friendly against Holland 2-0, Wales were ranked 41st in the world. Chris Coleman’s team then went 17 months without playing another friendly and jumped all the way up to eighth (earning themselves a top seeding for 2018 World Cup qualifying). Their results in that period were good if not spectacular — five wins and three draws — but a key factor was their calculated avoidance of average-killing friendlies.
      Of course, that is an extreme approach and there are obvious benefits to be gained from playing friendlies. They provide managers with an opportunity to experiment with players and systems, and allow teams who do not face any real challenges in their qualifying group — a frequent complaint in England’s case — to test themselves against high-quality opposition before the rigours of a major tournament. For federations, they offer prestige and financial reward. There are good reasons why England may not want to go cold-turkey on friendlies. But with a little bit of planning, it is possible to get around this.
      If you want to test yourself against heavyweight opposition, the best time to schedule friendlies is after the seeding cut-off date — this should be easy to arrange, as it is also in the interest of opposing federations. The second-best time to play friendlies is more than 12 months before the cut-off date, when their weighting is halved and they are far less harmful — indeed, Switzerland lost three consecutive friendlies between March and May of last year without significantly damaging their prospects of being seeded. The key is to minimise the number of friendlies in the 12-month ‘red zone’ leading up to the cut-off date. If you have to play one or two just to keep things ticking over, choose your opposition wisely and do not get too experimental — draws and defeats are especially damaging.
      Why go to all this trouble? Any aspirant World Cup winner has to beat the best teams anyway, so why worry about seedings? As Roy Hodgson put it bullishly before the 2014 World Cup draw, “I’m more than happy wherever we find ourselves, whatever pot we find ourselves in, whoever we have to play.”
      The truth is, though, that getting a seeding is important, because it means you do not have to face one of the other seeded teams in the group stage. Had England been seeded in 2014, they would not have found themselves, having lost their first game against Italy, facing Uruguay in their do-or-die second match; instead they would have faced an unseeded non-European team, like Ivory Coast or South Korea.
      Or, as a counter-example, take Spain at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which they ultimately won. Spain lost their first group match to Switzerland, but because they were seeded, rather than having to face the likes of Brazil or Argentina, their next two games were relatively straightforward, against Chile and Honduras.
      It is an incidental oversight, but one that is symptomatic of a cultural malaise in English football’s corridors of power: a lack of attention to detail, a strategic woolliness.
      It is hard to imagine British Cycling, for example, with its insatiable appetite for the accumulation of incremental advantages, spurning such an opportunity to influence the team’s destiny.


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    • #6
      living vicariously GOM's Avatar
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      Article said that playing friendlies in the run up to tournaments lowers your FIFA points total and hence your ranking. Switzerland, Poland (and Wales in the last tournament) avoided them and hence achieved a top 7 ranking which made them top seeds in the draw.

      edit just beaten to it with post above
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    • #7
      Minister of Information
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      Rankings should be based on teams performance at tournaments over a ten year spread. More points for the later ones. It all looks a bit wayward.
      I've lost my way. If anyone should find it, do return it quickly. I should imagine it quite rusty by now.
    • #8
      Members studio150's Avatar
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      Won't the the new UEFA nations league starting in September next year effectively put an end to this practice
    • #9
      Brain dead MUG SHEEP Easy 10's Avatar
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      France, Spain and Italy are 10th, 11th and 12th. Any one of those would give the Swiss a dry slap.
      "But you accept that there is an increased risk of vehicle/bat collision"
    • #10
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      1 Not allowed!
      Let bookmakers provide the rankings.

      They compare the qualities of teams more accurately than any system I've seen.

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