Good Morning, Fear the Wall.
Happy Monday. I hope that, wherever you are, the weather is better than it is here in Washington DC. October is objectively one of the best months of the year, but today has more of a November/late December feel. I’m typing this in a cozy French-style café, though, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Here are our top stories for today:
Germany in Trouble?
Saturday’s defeat to the Netherlands was nothing short of disastrous for the Germans. While I couldn’t watch the match first-hand, the consensus in the media seems to be that Die Mannschaft struggled as much as they did before and during the world cup, and that Joachim Löw has completely lost the plot.
What exactly has gone wrong? Some say that Germany has become too complacent, or that Löw is too favorable to Germany’s corps of aging veterans, or that his tactics are too obsolete. I’m no expert on the German national team, so I’ll leave it to you guys: what are your thoughts on what Germany needs to do to improve?
I’m an avid reader of fivethirtyeight.com, for both their sports and political commentary, and the way they describe statistics in an accessible way. For the last several years, they’ve used a metric called an SPI Rating to try and give football clubs power rankings, and also have tried to gauge the probability of specific clubs winning different competitions. Here’s an explanation of how they work:
At the heart of our club soccer forecasts are FiveThirtyEight’s SPI ratings, which are our best estimate of a team’s overall strength. https://t.co/7brumhbnom— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) August 13, 2018
Borussia Dortmund’s current SPI rating is 80.1, good for 13th overall in the Champions League. For comparison, the 12th best club is Inter Milan with 80.2, and 14th is Manchester United with 79.4. The SPI rating is fluid and changes throughout the season. Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly what BVB’s SPI rating was at the beginning of the season, but I believe it was around 77-78, which means that BVB have markedly improved in 538’s eyes.
538 also gives BVB a 92% chance to make the knockout round, a reflection of BVB’s strong start to their champions league campaign. In the Bundesliga, 538 only gives Dortmund a 20% chance of winning the league. However, this is also an improvement from earlier in the season, when it was under 10%. They’ve probably calculated this because Bayern’s SPI Rating is much higher at 90.9. If the Bavarians’ struggles continue, this could fall further.
Germany will take on France tomorrow, in what could be a do-or-die moment for Joachim Löw’s career. Do you think they’ll be up to the task?