Euro 2012: England is semi-final probability
Stats-cruncher lifts nation's hopes
Euro 2012 stats Ahead of the first ball being kicked at the Euro 2012 tournament, England is the third-ranked team and has a 68 per cent chance of getting out of the group stage according to the UK's top academic soccer statistician.
You read that right. With one of its best players unavailable for the first two matches, a manager who's had his feet under the table for less than two minutes plus a racism controversy – England still might do OK.
The number-crunching has been done by Dr Ian McHale, senior lecturer in statistics in the University of Salford and chair of the Royal Statistical Society's sports section. McHale and his team have run a million simulations of the tournament, using data from 11,000 international games.
The Reg ran details of his work during the 2010 World Cup, where he predicted Holland would win before the tournament started. After the group stages, and using the new data, this was revised to a Spanish victory. You might recall an unattractive Holland team losing to Spain in the final.
This time round, Spain are favourites, Germany second and England third. A Germany/England semi-final beckons. Hosts Poland and the Ukraine are bottom ranked at 15 and 16 respectively.
McHale's model uses an objective rating of players using official match statistics, not one based on subjective notions such as flair. He uses an 'ordered probit' model (an ordered regression model, stats fans) to estimate the probability of the three outcomes of a match – whether the result will be a win, a draw or a loss.
The model only uses the results of previous International games, the number of goals scored, and location of game. Weighting comes from Fifa's database of team rankings.
Factors that favour a team:
- if they're at home;
- haven't travelled too far;
- are ranked higher than the opposition;
- if they're an improving team according to ranking;
- the seriousness of the game (friendly or major tournament - better teams take major tournaments more seriously); and
- if they've been winning recently.
The bottom line is that England is going into a football tournament seriously undervalued from a betting perspective. UK bookies are well known for relying on home sentiment, and a misplaced sense of soccer entitlement, to offer punters terrible odds on the England team. By contrast Spain and Germany, the favourites, are poor value in betting terms.
But don't get too excited. At this point there is a 90 per cent chance of England not winning the tournament. (Spain has a 12 per cent chance of winning, and Germany has an 11 per cent chance.)
Dr McHale's Rankings
In order, that's:
|Rank||Country||% chance winning|
|8||Republic of Ireland||7%|
University of where?
"UK bookies are well known for relying on home sentiment, and a misplaced sense of soccer entitlement"
No, bookies are not stupid. They don't just do a probability analysis they also do a risk analysis - that is, to put it coarsely: RISK = PROBABILITY x COST. So even if the probability of something happening is relatively low the risk can be high if the cost is high.
In England people are going to bet on England in large numbers. They do this with absolutely no regard for the fact that England have little chance of winning. But if England do win the bookies liability will be huge, hence the risk is high, hence their odds are lowered. But this has nothing to do with the probaility of England winning.
Ask an octopus
Statistics are all well and good - but you can't really predict something as complex as an entire football tournament accurately. I seem to recall these types of reports before the last world cup and they predicted to do rather well. As it turned out, we were poor (well below our standard) and we're torn apart in the 2nd round.
If you ask any half knowledgeable football fan, I recon most of them would tip Spain to win the tournament.... this is without looking at any hard statistics - they just know that Spain are good.
In the end - no one knows who's really going to win the tournament - except maybe Paul (RIP).
Hahaha. France 11th, England 3rd, above the Dutch.
Whatever formula he's using it's produced some absolute bollocks.
Plural or Singular.
How come Spain ARE plural at one point in this article and yet later Spain HAS a singular verb? FWIW, in the UK, teams are plural.
"In sport, teams are always plural. England are expected to beat the Balearic Islands; Tranmere Rovers have extended their lead at the top of the Premiership."
Based on the World cup
We'll bully some minnows early on and get ahead of ourselves, and then as soon as we come across quality in a knockout phase we'll fold like the prima donnas we inevitably show ourselves to be.
Every time I try to give an ounce of care about football (i.e. internationally) we stuff it up.
I shall be watching the cricket - if it isn't raining...