Preparation is over, now comes the real deal. We’ve updated our ranking with the latest results and used it to find out how far each team is likely to go during the Euro 2016. Here is what we think.
We start with our latest StatiumElo ranking, which you can compare with this one, that didn’t include the last round of friendlies.
The first obvious difference is that France appears twice now. Its lower ranking represents its true level, the one we would use if France was playing on neutral ground. But they’re not. How much of an advantage playing at home provides is a subject of endless debates but the effect is real: on average the home team wins about 65% of its games, regardless of the competition. As such, the rating for France we will be using for our predictions is the top one which includes this advantage. This gives les Bleus a clear edge for this Euro.
Apart from this, France, Spain and England are more or less stable since last time and form our leading trio. Portugal is on the rise thanks in great part to them trouncing Estonia on Wednesday. Belgium and Poland’s latest performance are not reassuring on the other hand.
And then we have the elephant in the room: Germany is in 5th place. If you compare our ranking to others (see for example here), you’ll see that we’re a lot less optimistic about their chances at this point. The main difference between most rankings and ours is the following: looking at past performance, we give as much importance to friendlies and qualifiers as to World Cup games. We tried to give more weight to the major competitions but it always seemed to give less precise predictions in the long run. Ultimately, though we understand the rationale for not putting too much stock on friendlies (line-ups under construction, new strategies being tested…), we also think that throwing away 2 years of data is not a reasonable approach.
If you do believe in Germany’s super powers or don’t think the home field advantage will apply to this French squad we’ll provide you with some alternate scenarios at the end of this article.
As usual, if you want to find the odds for any potential game between the teams qualified for the Euro 2016 you can use our #predictor3000:
We want to know who’s gonna win!
Well, good luck with that!2 What we can tell you though is who we think has a better chance of winning it all. We combined the probabilities for each possible match-ups, played the tournament 100,000 times and looked at the number of times each team reached a certain level. Here are our results, starting with the group stage.
France and England are the only teams that are more likely to finish at first place than not. Portugal and Spain are almost there too. For all the others we predict that they are more likely to end at second or worse than to be first of their group. This in itself means we’ll almost all be wrong when we try to predict a reasonable round of sixteen. There will be surprises.
Still, the leaders have a really good chance of making it to the knockout stage. In fact, all the teams have some chance of getting out of their group, even a team such as Iceland (Iceland!) is more likely than not to do so. All in all, since two thirds of the teams will qualify to the round of sixteen, a 66% chance of making it to the next stage represents the odds of an average team.
If we move on to the knockout stage, and tally the chances of making it to at least the eighth, quarter, semi or being on the podium we obtain these odds.
It seems that we have a clear favorite, France is leading the pack by a fair margin. In fact it is the only team that has a more than one in two chance of making it to the semi finals. Behind, Spain and England are the most likely alternate winners. Combining these three teams we get to 49%, meaning there’s almost as much chance that the winner will be one of these teams than any other team.
It could be any of Germany, Portugal, Belgium or Croatia for example, each having around a 5% chance. On the other hand they’re also more likely to be out before the quarter finals than not. For Germany, after their amazing run during the last World Cup this would be a stunning turn of events.
Let’s say you don’t believe in the home field advantage or you are convinced that Germany is indeed special. Here are two alternate models for you, which you can compare to ours.
The first column is our model. In the second version, we removed France’s advantage, which turns Spain into our new favorite by a small margin. This scenario would even out the chances for the top 3 teams and give the next five teams a slightly better chance of coming out on top. As we mentioned, the historical data indicate that the home field advantage is real, but maybe not this year…
The third model is the one where we try to give Germany chances that are more in line with the ones from the bookmakers (see also Goldman Sachs predictions which were released recently). They all give them around a 20% chance of winning the Euro 2016. This forced us to give them an advantage which is even higher than the home field effect and basically means that we would erase from their records all the games that happened since the last World Cup. As such we decided to call it the “Germany always wins” correction factor, one that the French squad of 82, Brazil in 2014 and Gary Lineker all know is real. Whether it applies to this Euro or not remains to be seen.
Time for a good dose of reality
All the math, all the odds and the analysis only give a glimpse of the possibilities. Starting this Friday there will be surprises. A rising star will have its breakout moment and go on a tear. A major contender will not make it out of its group and people will spend years analyzing how this could have happened. Even as we speak, a small team has devised a unique strategy4 that will lead it to the semi-finals5. And all our predictions will be thrown out the window. Football is fun sometimes.
Check our website again soon, we’ll update our predictions regularly during the Euro.