We’re now half way through the Africa Cup of Nations and it has gone relatively to plan so far. The big 4, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa are all through to the quarter -finals with only Nigeria unable to top their group. The North African teams have been something of a disappointment with Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria all knocked out.
The Champions League knockout stage might have the glamour of Manchester United v Real Madrid, but what of its little brother (whatever AVB might say), the Europa League? We decided to look at our predictions for the Europa League knockout draw.
There are four English teams in the Europa league, Premier League position in brackets: Chelsea (4), Liverpool (8), Newcastle(15) and Tottenham (3). This is double the amount that have made it to this stage in the previous two years. But how much further can they go?
Seems a silly question, right? The final will be at Bayern’s home stadium. But it won’t be full of Bayern’s fans, as it is when they usually play. So are they really going to enjoy the full effects of home advantage?
Home European Cup Finals
There are previous instances of European club finals being played at one of the teams’ home grounds: Madrid won the European Cup “at home” in 56/57, Inter won in 64/65 and Roma lost in 83/84. In the UEFA Cup, Feyenoord won in 01/02, Sporting Lisbon lost in 04/05 and finally in the European Cup Winners Cup Barcelona won in 81/82. Thanks Wikipedia!
So four wins and two losses, that’s exactly what you’d expect with full home advantage in effect and two teams of equal ability. But most of these matches are far in the past: maybe the home teams were strong favourites and maybe the stadia all those years ago really were full of home fans. Is there anything else that can help us?
Home Domestic European Cup Finals
I was surprised to find (thanks again, Wikipedia) that French, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish have been played at club grounds, and there have been many instances of cup finals “at home”.
This season’s Premier League has not let us down. With most teams having just four league games left, there is still all to play for at top of the table for the Manchester teams. At the other end of the table four teams are battling it out to stay in the top division and of course, there is also race for the fourth Champions League spot. I was interested in seeing how each team has featured in those battles. Drawing charts is usually the best way… Continue reading
After the weekend’s Premier League matches, I am pleased to find Arsenal sitting 3rd in the table. In fact they have won seven Premier League matches in a row and are now three points above Tottenham. A friend pointed out (probably sarcastically) that Arsenal might be late title challenger. I stared at the table for as long as I could but the gap of 15 points between them and the top didn’t reduce. I then looked at our predictions published on Castrol.com, they actually have a 0.01% chance to win the title as I found after digging very deep into the decimal places. But I wasn’t going to give up.
What an exciting start to the season. At nearly three goals per game, there have been plenty of great matches. Outlandish score-lines such as 8-2, 1-6 and 3-5 have led commentators to scratch their heads.
Short Term Variation
The power of statistics is that it accounts for short term variation. When information is limited, we should be wary about drawing conclusions from our observations.
So when we get an “unusual” result, such as 2.98 goals per game so far this season, we can use statistics to tell us if that really is a surprise, or if it’s to be expected – after all, we’ve only seen 99 games.
How to Predict Goals Scored
We use our team strength model to predict Premier League matches. Total goals is something we can predict. At the start of the season, for example, we predicted Liverpool to score 1.69 and concede 1.02 goals at home to average Premier League opposition.
How many times does a manager or a player claim “a draw was a good result?” Whether this is justifying the result after the fact (i.e. if you’ve been 3-0 down a draw is certainly a good result), or whether the team went out to play for a draw, I decided to see how often a draw really was a good result given the pre-match predictions.
Who’s Happy With a Draw?
A draw is better than a loss and the one league point it brings is some comfort to fans, but more often it is two points lost rather than one point gained. Consider a match between evenly matched sides. In that case the home team has about a 50% chance of victory, and the away team about a 25% chance. Continue reading
We’ve been working with Castrol and MLS since March to deliver the MLS Castrol Index. Beyond player ratings, we’ll be predicting the MLS Cup Playoffs once the regular season is finished. So we’ve been taking a look at MLS teams and the structure of the league…
We applied our team strength model, using weighted historical full time scores to rate teams, to MLS. Who’s looking good this season? Seattle is the standout team in terms of goal scoring threat – we rate them as scoring 1.6 goals on neutral territory against the average MLS opponent. After Seattle, the next best teams are remarkably evenly matched, with Red Bull New York in second scoring only 0.2 more goals against the average opponent than Columbus Crew, ranked 12th. Continue reading
There’s clearly more of an emphasis in sport on winning than there is on entertaining, but we can turn our football modelling techniques towards a different target: goals per game. What you really want is for your team to be the best, but if you think about things from a neutral’s perspective the total number of goals per game might be more interesting. So who, as a neutral, should you go to see?
Dectech continue their tour of leagues outside of England. After La Liga, last week, this week we look at another league which has had a delayed kick-off due to strike action, Serie A.
Last season AC Milan ended as champions, winning their first Scudetto since the 2003/2004 season, and breaking Inter’s five-year hold at the top of the league.