What a few days it have been! No, I am not referring to the huge numbers of Teams meetings that I had to push on my colleagues this Monday and Tuesday … but the EURO2020 matches! A lot has changed and in a way a lot has also stayed the same. Let’s dive right in.
The Danish Phoenix
There were quite a few noteworthy games since our last update on 20/06/2021. Just as it is quite noteworthy how wrong some of my expectations expressed in that update (here) were. But for me the stand-out game was the resurrection of Denmark in Russia – Denmark. With a magnificent shot by Damsgaard as the perhaps crowning moment of the match, there was so much to love about that game, not least of which was to see Denmark reach the last-16 where they will now face Wales and … if you ask me, but the statistics show you shouldn’t ask me … I think Wales – Denmark is quite likely to go Denmark’s way too! I think we will see Denmark in the quarter-finals.
With Italy having become no 1 in Group A, and a clear contender for an overall win, it will now meet Austria and it seems to me that despite Austria’s surprising (for me) win over Ukraine, Italy – Austria can only go one way. Wales beat Switzerland to the quarter-finals on goal-difference despite a convincing result for Switzerland in their last game.
In Group B the overall win of Belgium was perhaps the least surprising thing whereas the recovery of Denmark after the dramatic start of the tournament for their team has all the hallmarks of a classic football tournament story that will be retold frequently in years to come. In Group C the overall win for the Netherlands was a surprise for me, as I considered this the first real tournament for this still young team and their qualification and friendly matches prior to the tournament were not so convincing. Like Belgium, also the Netherlands are still waiting to find out who their last-16 opponents are.
In Group D England qualified with relative ease although they looked sluggish in their draw against Scotland, but perhaps this was just England being nice to Scotland. Sterling’s one goal against the Czech Republic was awesome and surely made me want to see more of those. I had high hopes for Croatia at the start of the tournament based on their recent years’ record. But they evidently struggled and only seemed to find their usual selves in the last group game of their group. They win over Scotland was convincing and deserved. Both England as well as Croatia are still waiting to find out who their last-16 opponent will be.
Group E and Group F are still undecided as of the writing of this update. Later today Sweden will meet Poland and Slovakia will meet Spain. With Sweden currently in the lead they are almost certain of qualifying for the last-16. However the ECONMEAN forecast is a Swedish draw against Poland (1-1) and a Spanish win over Slovakia (2-0). If this forecast were to come true given the current standings in group E, we could see Spain go through, with Sweden going through as 2nd. In that case Sweden would face Croatia in the last-16 … which sounds like a game I would enjoy watching.
Group F is also still undecided and apart from Hungary, all three others, France, Germany and Portugal, can still win the group. For Hungary to still have a quarter-final chance they would need to convincingly defeat Germany (by 4-0 at least), which I honestly do not see happening … least of all in Munich. A German win seems likely, especially after their excellent performance against Portugal, in which case the French team would need to ensure that it at least achieves a draw in order to be sure of last-16 qualification. Though good, I would not expect Portugal to ‘walk over’ the French, and the narrow 1-1 draw of the French against Hungary may just about have awoken them up enough to go for a solid win against Portugal. If France wins the group, then they will face one of the “number 3’s” of the tournament. If the French scrape through as number 2 in group F due to a draw against Portugal, then they will encounter England in the last-16. I suspect the English team will be awaiting the results of today’s last round of group games with anticipation.
So, where did all of this leave our forecasting competitors? As you can see from the “how did we get here graph” below we are currently seeing 3 clusters of forecasters and “Never wins anything” falling behind a little. “Would Rather Be Watching Cricket” has now been ‘absorbed’ into a first group of pursuers that are following the trio in the lead. The first group of pursuers, clustered around 112 points so far, are themselves pursued by a second groups clustering around 102 points so far.
So, who are the trio in the lead? Are they the names familiar from the last update?
Yes and No! “Surfing Manatees” with now 121 points has lost the lead to “Ferris Bueller” who has collected 125 points. Also Luke Langer has passed them by having caught up to the lead with 124. ECONMEAN, our collective averaged and rounded forecast, is in the first pursuers group.
Now you might think that this means the outcome if pretty much settled. But nothing is farther from the truth! With the last-16 coming up, the knock-out stage with its 15 matches still contains around 120 points left to win. Due to the knock-out character however, the opportunity cost of getting a forecast wrong, especially for the last-16 wins, is high. So, when tomorrow I send you that Email asking for your predictions for the knock-out stage … remember, there is still everything the play for.