Data geeks forecast whether football’s coming home

eurosWith the country in the grips of Euro 2020 fever, it is hard to find an England supporter who does not believe that, come July 11, the Wembley turf will finally witness football “coming home”, with the national team victorious at last.

And, having topped their group with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, beaten Germany in the knockout rounds of a tournament for the first time since 1966 and then trounced Ukraine 4-0, it is perhaps easy to see why the nation is feeling so confident.

If England can overcome the Danes on Wednesday night, they will face either Spain or Italy in a game that could just end so many years of hurt.

We have already had Mystic Theo, a pet tortoise belonging to Sheffield nurse Joan Pons Laplana, and Boy, a lion living at a Thai zoo, who both predicted that England would win their first game against Croatia.

But only the Euro 2020 Predictive Model, built by the Stats Perform AI team, has predicted every game and mapped out the likelihood of each nation’s chances in the competition.

The model works by estimating the probability of each match outcome by using betting market odds and Stats Perform’s team rankings. The odds and rankings are based on historical and recent team performances.

It considers the strength of opponents and the difficulty of the “path to the final” by using the match outcome probabilities with the composition of the groups and the seedings into the knockout stages.

The model simulates the remainder of the tournament 40,000 times. By analysing the outcome of each of these simulations, the model returns the likelihood of progression for each team at each stage of the tournament to create the final predictions.

Their analysis, on, has so far proved pretty impressive, even down to predicting that Denmark, Italy, Spain and England would make it through to the semi-finals. (Even though, before a ball was kicked they had France as champions-elect.)

Now we have reached the “business end” of the competition, they predict that Italy will beat Spain tonight and England will triumph over the Danes.

But, sadly, that is when it all goes pear-shaped for Kane & Co, with Italy seeing off Gareth Southgate’s men in the final and the cup going home with the Azzurri and not the Three Lions.

Still, as the song goes, all those years of hurt “never stopped us dreaming”…

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