All About the Euros
With a fascinating season of club football behind us, the Sportcast team have all been Euros focused for the past month – and taken the opportunity to release a powerful new interface to our football outrights software, with more style, function and all round sexiness!
So, with all that power at our fingertips, we thought it was about time we put it to some use for our followers and share some insights on the Euros following the first round of fixtures. Here’s where the real fun starts…
A Bit of Background to Tournament Forecasting
It all starts with the assessment of team strengths and characteristics. At Sportcast, we use a combination of algorithmically derived ratings together with insights from our expert football team and the betting industry to establish a basis for our teams.
Each league, round, team and match have specific features and distributions relevant to them. Our research team provide the bases to get these correct within each competition, and our software provides the tools for traders to customise for any number of scenarios to accurately forecast future matches.
Accounting for the Unexpected
Leicester City anyone? Sportcast Live includes measures of volatility for both leagues and individual teams, which allow us the flexibility to pre-emptively account for both the changes, and errors made, in the base line ratings of teams as they progress through a competition.
Not the type that warrants a yellow card! With the variables all set for a competition, we simulate the competition (including a random component) being played out thousands, or even millions of times, and aggregate the outcomes to understand the likelihood of expected events.
How Things Stand
With France and Switzerland – the Group A favourites – winning in the first round, they’re almost certainties to qualify through to the knockout rounds. That win further solidifies France’s position as tournament favourites, at 25% to be crowned champions.
Despite only drawing against Russia, Group B favourites England remain best placed to qualify at 89%, marginally ahead of Wales who currently lead the group after a tight win against Slovakia.
Group C is another to have followed expectation with the two favourites both winning. Northern Ireland are the worst rated team in the tournament and hold little hope for progression. Will the Ukraine come to regret conceding in the last minute when it comes to the shoot-out for the best 3rd places teams?
Low scoring wins have been in fashion this tournament, and Group D was no different with the two group favourites lodging 1-0 victories in their opening matches.
Group E favourite, Belgium took a heavy blow in the first game with a 2-0 loss against Italy. Whilst the two lowest ranked teams did each other no favours whatsoever with a draw in their most winnable match. More on that later…
Group F – the least likely group to see the Champions emerge from. This was underlined by rank outsiders Hungary recording a 2-0 win against Austria and Portugal only manage a draw against Iceland. Qualification is all to play for though.
Taking Your Chances…
With the new 24 team format, the four best third placed teams will make it through to the knockout phase, keeping things interesting to the end. There have been three major tournaments played in this way in the past – the World Cups of 1986, 1990 and 1994. Of these, only the latter can be fairly compared to the current Euros, since prior to this a win had only counted for two points. As you can see from the table, it required at least a win and draw to secure one of the third place spots into the knockout stages.
Considering where we things currently stand, we can take a look at which groups are likely to sneak into the knockout stages as one of the four best third placed teams.
With Iceland and Hungary (the worst rated teams of Group F) already picking up a point and a win respectively and with the two teams yet to play each other, Group F is in pole position to grab one of the 3rd place spots for the knockout stage.
Conversely, the importance of going for a win with this new tournament structure was perfectly demonstrated by the failure of the Republic of Ireland and Sweden to achieve exactly that, as they saw out a 1-1 draw. The two lowest rated teams up against each other in the match they have the best chance of winning – yet neither team could manage it and a point was lost for the group. Together with there being a winner between the top two teams, it has left only a 52% chance of the third place team qualifying (vs an average of 67%).