Thursday, 7 June 2012

Who will win EURO 2012?

The unpredictable nature of football means that there is no guaranteed way to anticipate with 100% accuracy who will win a tournament, unless of course it's Serie A. However, what we can do is try and use the best tools at our disposal to reduce the risk of a shock or major upset. In search of finding a fool proof way to find the future winner of Euro 2012, I've devised my own prediction tool.

It takes into consideration the Euro 2012 'qualifying goal difference' and 'points per game' of each of the 16 teams that have made it into the tournament (the reason for using these two measurements is that 'goals scored' and 'clean sheets' etc. would all be inconsistent as some nations played 10 qualifying group games, whereas others played 8). It also looks at the nation's FIFA rank, whether or not they are playing on home turf (as Poland and Ukraine will be), how they performed at the previous Euros and World Cup, and how many goals their top goalscorer got in the qualifying stage. Finally, it ranks their current odds with the bookies. 

There are of course many other variables available to examine but in the interest of keeping the study easily understood, these are the eight I decided to use. So for each of the variables, the 16 clubs were ranked from 1st to 16th and awarded points accordingly (1st place = 160 points, 2nd = 150 points, 3rd = 140 points, 4th = 130 points, 5th = 120 points, 6th = 110 points, 7th = 100 points, 8th = 90 points, 9th = 80 points, 10th = 70 points, 11th = 60 points, 12th = 50 points, 13th = 40 points, 14th = 30 points, 15th = 20 points, 16th = 10 points). Furthermore, if a nation did not participate in the previous Euros or World Cup, and for those nations not playing on home turf (every nation apart from Poland and Ukraine), they were awarded 0 points for that category. For all the variables based on qualifying, Poland and Ukraine, who as hosts did not take part in qualification, were awarded a minimal 20 points. 

By adding all scores from the eight categories together, I was then able to rank the nations in order of predicted quality, which looked like this:

1st -   Spain  - 1050 points
2nd - Germany - 1040 points
3rd - Netherlands - 1010 points
4th - Italy - 760 points
5th - Portugal - 710 points
6th - Russia - 630 points
7th - England - 600 points
8th - Sweden - 520 points
8th - France - 520 points
10th - Croatia  - 500 points
11th - Greece - 460 points
12th - Denmark - 450 points
13th - Poland - 340 points
14th - Czech Republic - 320 points
15th - Republic of Ireland - 290 points
16th - Ukraine - 270 points

We can use these points totals to estimate each nation's percentage chance of victory at the tournament:

Now the first thing to say with these results, is that they rank the teams from 1st to 16th BUT they do not take the tournament draw into consideration. Therefore, it would be wrong to suggest this ranking will determine the exact finishing place of each nation. Also, you can see there is a large drop from 3rd to 4th place (between Netherlands and Italy), suggesting that there are three clear favourites for the tournament in Spain, Germany and Netherlands. Additionally, Sweden and France are in joint 8th place, estimated to have equal ability. 

The next thing to do is to see how the draw and groups effect this ranking. The Group of Death (Germany, Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark) clearly lives up to its name as it contains the teams deemed to have the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 12th best chance of winning the Euros. Interestingly, it also contains the teams ranked 2nd, 4th, 5th and 10th in the world.

So to predict the outcome of the tournament, we need to plot each of the teams against each other based on their group fixtures and see who will reach the knock out stage and then from there, when two clubs meet, whoever has the superior points ranking will be victorious. With this in mind, Portugal will not get out of their group, leaving room for another team to make it into the later stages. Based on the points tally above and the Euro 2012 fixture list, here are my predictions:

Winners - Spain
Runners up - Germany
Semi Finalists - Netherlands
Semi Finalists - Italy
Quarter Finalists - Greece
Quarter Finalists - Russia
Quarter Finalists - England
Quarter Finalists - France/Sweden

Based on this, we can suggest where the best place to put your money would be this summer. As the odds are so slight for Spain to win, the better bets look to be GREECE TO REACH QUARTER FINALS (6/4), SWEDEN TO REACH QUARTER FINALS (7/4) and ITALY TO REACH SEMI FINALS (11/4).

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Rodgers is the new Liverpool manager

As Brendan Rodgers is set to become the new Liverpool manager, Spencer takes a look at his stats compared to the other managers that were on Liverpool's shortlist.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The best premier league season ever

Here's a poetic review of this year's football season which has been hailed as the best season in the premier league's twenty year history. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Serie A clubs say arrivederci to four Italian legends

The end of this season's Serie A campaign saw AC Milan bid farewell to three of the club's most loyal servants in recent years, and the emotional exit of Alessandro Del Piero from league champions Juventus. Whilst Filippo Inzaghi is hanging up his boots, Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta are both considering their future. There was speculation that Gattuso might complete a romantic return to Rangers to save them during their darkest hour, but unfortunately this doesn't look likely. Nesta and Del Piero have both been linked with moves to the MLS, with Del Piero potentially joining Beckham at LA Galaxy to create a formidable partnership with Robbie Keane, and Nesta gaining interest from the New York Red Bulls. Del Piero has also been linked with Premier League teams Arsenal, Tottenham and QPR. Time will tell where these Italian greats end up, but for now we salute them for their stellar work and loyalty.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Could this England 'B' squad beat the real Euro 2012 squad?

Here's a 17-man England squad consisting solely of players who won't be going to Poland & Ukraine this summer. The official England Euro 2012 squad was announced today and the below players were all overlooked by the new manager Roy Hodgson. Whilst Paul Scholes is retired from international football, he made the team due to the speculation that he would be selected for the Euros.

Which strikers should go to EURO 2012?

Only a few minutes before Roy Hodgson announces his first England squad. Here are his options. It's worrying that 4 of our 8 options haven't scored a goal at international level!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012