At the beginning of Euro 2012, The Power Rank assigned Croatia as the 46th best team in the world. This was the worst ranking among the 16 teams. Then a reader pointed out in the comments that Croatia is 8th in the FIFA rankings.
That is a massive difference.
We looked into this further and found two World Cup qualifying games against England in which Croatia lost 9-2 on aggregate. Since our algorithm considers margin of victory, these games greatly depressed Croatia’s rank. When we do not consider these two games in the rankings, Croatia jumps from their current 33rd ranking to 22nd.
We have no explanation why FIFA ranks Croatia 8th.
Then this morning, Marin from Croatia left some insight to his national team. Through apologies for his English and an F-bomb, he essentially says his team is bipolar. Either they believe in themselves and can beat any team in the world, or they wake up on the wrong side of the bed and lose to Georgia. Marin ends by saying, “I love my country, but I really hate to watch any game, any sport where a Croat or Croatia play because that day I will have a headache.”
So Croatia is the VCU of international soccer. In last year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, VCU made an epic run from last team in to the Final Four. Point guard Joey Rodriguez even admitted that they didn’t take some of their conference opponents seriously, a move that almost left them out of the tournament. They decided to play once the big dance started, winning 5 games on their way to the Final Four.
Against Italy today, Croatia managed a 1-1 tie after a beautiful finish from Mario Mandzukic in the second half. Croatia has a 3% chance to win Euro 2012 and make our methods seem a little silly. For all of our most updated win probabilities, click here to see our interactive bracket.