Lies’ diesen Beitrag auf deutsch!

EURO 2016 is about to start, so you can’t escape the expert predictions (though sadly lacking are animal-based predictions. What gives?) To tackle the question who will win the EURO 2016 a little more systematically, I find 3 approaches interesting:

  1. Betting quotes
  2. Elo-Rating
  3. FIFA ranking

Betting quotes are – I guess – more or less self-explanatory. Their big advantage is that all available information (e.g. home field advantage) is “priced in” and that they are determined by a large number of motivated bettors (amateur and professional). As an example, the current quotes from bwin (with implicit winning probability in brackets):

  1. France   4.2 (24%)
  2. Germany   4.5 (22%)
  3. Spain    6.5 (15%)
  4. England   9.5 (11%)
  5. Belgium   10.0 (10%)
  6. Italy     15.0 (7%)

So far, so boring, no surprises here. Exciting prospects for the EURO itself though, no clear favorite.

Now Elo: The concept originated in chess (see Wiki) and works (simplified) as follows: For every game, an expected results is calculated. If a team outperforms this expected result, their score increases accordingly. The more important (friendly, qualification, tournament etc.) the game is, the larger the rating change (see here for the detailed calculation). The top 6 are as follows, rating and change to last year in brackets.

  1. Germany (2011, -93)
  2. Spain (1993, +61)
  3. France (1952, +21)
  4. England (1947, +44)
  5. Netherlands (1903, -97)
  6. Belgium (1896, +8)

5 of the 6 are identical to the betting quotes, the order of the top 3 is slightly different. (Unbelievable, that Holland did not qualify. Huge disappointment.) This system is purely driven by results. On the one hand, this is good (no bias); on the other hand, this is bad (ignores recent issues like injuries which have not yet influenced results). I think that the difference between betting quotes and Elo is caused by France’s assumed home field advantage: It’s priced into the quotes but ignored by Elo. Interesting also the changes year-on-year: Spain and England clearly getting better, Germany on the way down.

The last method is the FIFA world ranking. It uses a very complicated formula, which gives points for results depending on the opponent’s strength and importance of the game. Important to note that results from the last 4 years are taken into account, but older results are discounted (see here for details). Well:

  1. Belgium  (1384)
  2. Germany  (1310)
  3. Spain  (1267)
  4. Portugal  (1181)
  5. Austria  (1077)
  6. England  (1069)

WTF? Austria? France is missing completely (only rank 10), Belgium in the top spot? Crucial for the whole system is the factor that determines the importance of the game and how strongly past results are discounted. That’s not really conclusive for me, but interesting to see nonetheless.

If I had to bet, I’d hedge first by saying that there is no clear favorite this time. However, my guess:

  1. France
  2. Spain
  3. Belgium

What do you think? I am really excited for the games to start!

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