Prediction of major international soccer tournaments based on team-specific regularized Poisson regression: An application to the FIFA World Cup 2014

Andreas Groll 1 , Gunther Schauberger 2  and Gerhard Tutz 2
  • 1 Department of Mathematics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Theresienstr. 39, 80333 Munich
  • 2 Department of Statistics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Andreas Groll, Gunther Schauberger and Gerhard Tutz


In this article an approach for the analysis and prediction of international soccer match results is proposed. It is based on a regularized Poisson regression model that includes various potentially influential covariates describing the national teams’ success in previous FIFA World Cups. Additionally, within the generalized linear model (GLM) framework, also differences of team-specific effects are incorporated. In order to achieve variable selection and shrinkage, we use tailored Lasso approaches. Based on preceding FIFA World Cups, two models for the prediction of the FIFA World Cup 2014 are fitted and investigated. Based on the model estimates, the FIFA World Cup 2014 is simulated repeatedly and winning probabilities are obtained for all teams. Both models favor the actual FIFA World Champion Germany.

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JQAS, an official journal of the American Statistical Association, publishes research on the quantitative aspects of professional and collegiate sports. Articles deal with subjects as measurements of player performance, tournament structure, and the frequency and occurrence of records. Additionally, the journal serves as an outlet for professionals in the sports world to raise issues and ask questions that relate to quantitative sports analysis.