ECON2020-21: The first semi-final done

The first semi-final is in the box, and what a thrilling game it was. A good time to do a final check-up on how the ECON forecasters have been doing through the quarter-finals and this first semi-final before the England – Denmark game of tomorrow.

The Quarter & half the Semis

Tonight’s game Italy – Spain was quite the game. That both these teams came through the quarter-finals was perhaps the least surprising thing of all. The way in which they did so was a little more surprising. Italy surpassed Belgium with surprising ease, whilst Spain struggled itself past Switzerland in a penalty-miss fest where the worst team (at penalties) lost. Nevertheless the semi-final was a thrilling game in which for most of the game Spain was on the front foot. Spain created only a few good chances despite their dominance on the mid-field. Italy’s fast counters always caused trouble in the Spanish defence, and whenever Spanish midfielders lost the ball to an Italian mid-fielder there was always an immediate sense of danger.

Nevertheless it must be said that the Spanish powerplay on the mid-field had the Italians barely hanging-on and they went into extra-time at 1-1 with the clear intention to make it into the penalty shoot-out. Although Spain was in ball possession for most of the extra time and created a few chances it was not enough to avoid another dramatic shoot-out. After two first penalties missed, the Italians made no more mistakes and shot the game home to their side. Italy proceeds to the final on Sunday and although I already see plenty of optimism from the English side that they should be able to defeat this Italian team in the Final … I am not so sure about that.

How did we get here

So, time to have a last look at the time-series of the points earned by our forecasters. A note of explanation is appropriate here. Evidently since the last-16 matches some national teams have been dropping out of the tournament. As a result some forecasts have become ambiguous as one (or both) of the teams in the forecasted quarter- or semi-finals is no longer part of the tournament.

Here is how those forecasts were scored:

If a forecaster predicted a team A to enter into some quarter-final against a team B, and that team A did not make it through the last-16 matches, then the forecast could no longer earn a point for that team’s forecasted goal-score in the quarter-final. It could, of course, still earn points for team B’s goal-score and also for the red and yellow cards forecast. If a forecast saw a last-16, or quarter-final, match end in a draw, then whichever team won the penalty-shootout was considered to be the forecasted team to go on to the next stage. Team B playing against a Team A that had not qualified was assumed to be the forecasted winner of the match, even when the forecast had the non-placed team A as winner. But a team that is not in the game can’t score goals and can’t win!

And here is what the result looks like, from day 1 till after tonight’s first semi-final. The entrance of Switzerland and the Czech Republic into the quarter-finals was not forecast by many, however their opponents were forecasted by many, as was the correct winner of the corresponding match.

A small number of forecasts have stopped earning points because no update was received for the knock-out stage. The other forecasts have continued earning points, albeit mostly at a lower rate per match than in the group-phase. We still have our group of three leaders which are contesting for the top-spot.

Luke Langer is still in the lead, followed closely by “Ferris Bueller” and “Surfing Manatees“. Only 6 points are separating them. The group of pursuers is led by “Would Rather Be Watching The Cricket” and Jack O Connel.

Like with the EURO2020-21 … although it is too early to definitely tell who is going to win ECON2020-21, the current standings do give us rather clear clues that it is probably going to be one of the trio in the lead. This forecasting contest may just be decided by an odd yellow card, or a missed penalty in the regular playing time.

Look ahead

Tomorrow will bring us England – Denmark. It is probably next to blasphemous to predict anything else but an English victory … however I must say the Danish team has shown a resilience that none other teams has had to match so far in the tournament. They convincing win over Wales and their slightly less dominant win over the Czech Republic have most definitely given them a good degree of momentum. The Danish team definitely has the quality to have a serious chance tomorrow.

But the English team has evidently found itself in the last two games after a group phase that was less than convincing. The struggle against Scotland was easily forgotten during their easy win against a weak German team and their goal-rich win over an exhausted Ukraine. Sterling and Kane connected well in these last matches and this most definitely is a strength of the English team. But against an opponent whose defence could get a handle on either or both these players … the going might get tough.

Tomorrow promises to be an exciting and dramatic game in which evidently the ’13th man’, the home crowd in Wembley, will be cheering their team on to prevent a reinstatement of the Danelaw in the English lands. Will it be Italy – Denmark on Sunday? Or Italy – England? We will know within 24 hours from now. My advice to the English team: never underestimate teams from small Scandinavian countries, that didn’t work well in 2016 either.

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