Four of the top ten ranked teams are in the semi-finals

Four of the top ten ranked teams are in the semi-finals
Four of the top ten ranked teams are in the semi-finals

Sports

Iyán Iván Baragaño

Statistical predictive models give England and France a slight advantage, with more chances of victory than the Netherlands and Spain

07 Jul 2024. Updated at 20:01 h.

Making predictions in football is not easy and, although our predictions in the quarter-finals were quite accurate, the task becomes more complicated in some semi-finals that are very closeBefore analysing in detail the four semi-finalists in this Euro Cup, let’s review the quarter-finals.

The rooms met expectations

Spain faced Germany in a tight match (our prediction was 50%-50%) and were unable to tip the balance until the 119th minute. France started as favourites (we gave them a 60% chance of winning) and did not need to be better than their rival to get a ticket to the semi-finals. As usual, Deschamps’ men knew how to suffer, and are now in the semi-finals looking for their fourth final since 2016 (Euro 2016, World Cup 2018 and World Cup 2022).

England, with a linear game and more names than football, fulfilled the predictions and the Netherlands, who seemed much more favourites than they were (although our prediction was 60% in favour of the Dutch), managed to defeat a Turkey that was superior in play and chances. In short, a gala quartet for a semi-final in which four teams from the top 10 of the world in the FIFA ranking will meet.

Now, light margins

What will happen in these semi-finals? Statistical predictions give France and England as favourites in their respective matches. The English start with a 62% chance of defeating Depay and Van Dijk, while the blue They have a 52% chance of beating Spain. Once again, it’s a dead heat. We’ll have to suffer again. Hopefully, once again, with a happy ending.

Spain-France: a match to be patient about

If there is one thing that has characterised the French team so far in the Euros, it has been their defensive order and patience in finding their moment. Spain, on the other hand, has been able to show an intensity and spark that many of us were missing.

The top scoring team versus the team that has conceded the fewest. France is in the semi-finals having conceded one goal in 5 games. Spain has been able to score 2.2 goals per game. If we analyse the offensive and defensive efficiency of both teams, Deschamps’ men should have conceded between 4 and 5 goals (adding up expected goals against, xG against).

Nothing could be further from the truth. Football is won in penalty areas, and if France was able to win the 2018 World Cup, and almost the 2022 World Cup, with an offensive efficiency far superior to that of the other teams, now it has transferred its efficiency to its own area. Look at it as you like, but to win it is not necessary to score more goals than the opponent, it is enough to score the same number. Here is an example.

Attack versus defence, ball control versus transitions and speed. Will we see a football match or an exercise in French survival? Personally, I’m leaning towards the latter. The key to the match is not to lose patience. Let’s hope that the youth of our team doesn’t take its toll.

England-Netherlands: forgetting the Wembley defeat

Losing a final is tough. If you are the English team and you lose it at Wembley, in front of 80,000 home fans, it is even tougher. Of the four semi-finalists, the Netherlands and England have been the most inconsistent in the Euros so far. Southgate’s team, with more names than football, have struggled to get there. The Netherlands, more of the same. However, we can expect an entertaining game.

The Oranje have conceded the most goals so far (one per game on average) and England are second (0.6 goals). I think both teams will need to score if they want to make it to the semi-finals. Will we see a two-legged game? Certainly not in the first few minutes, because a ticket to the final is a daunting task, but everything points to there being opportunities for both sides.

Finally, a prediction and a wish. The prediction is that the final will be France? England. The wish, you can imagine.

Iyán Iván Baragaño is a member of the Interuniversity Football Research Group.


 
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