The Bundesliga season is drawing to a close – it is more or less over – and the next major event is already upon us. Throughout the years and such events, the computer has been a faithful companion and has interfered in one way or another in these competitions, usually of course with the probabilities it calculates and the resulting bets it intends to recommend on the betting market.
Now, in any case, one has to make a few special observations in connection with such major events and it is best to inform the attentive reader of this in advance.
The computer is basically optimally designed for pure league play. Everybody plays everybody, once at home, once away, there are a fair number of teams in the draw, so that week after week there are matches that take this or that course as well as this or that outcome. Although far from it – and it seems absolutely inadvisable to invoke it – to propagate the erroneous belief that “luck and bad luck will balance out in the end”, for which there is no evidence, the permanent input of the results with simultaneous close observation of the teams and the matches and resulting possible adjustments if fate permanently turns against a certain team, ensures that there are no particular outliers in the numbers.
At a European Championship (or World Cup), the clocks tick a little differently. In any case, the one problem is home advantage. Since it is not necessary to argue in very general terms, let’s be specific here: recently there have been several events of this kind organised by two federations. This may have its advantages for the federations, as well as taking into account the realisation that it is not possible for one (smaller) federation to manage it alone, but at the same time it has somewhat called into question the home advantage. In Austria and Switzerland in 2008, BOTH hosts were eliminated in the preliminary round – something that had never happened before in either the European Championships or the World Cup.
In Japan and South Korea, at least South Korea was able to represent the hosts for a longer period of time, in Holland and Belgium only Holland succeeded. Most recently in South Africa – as sole host – the host failed to qualify for the next round for the first time in the history of the World Cup.
All in all, this simply means that at the moment, even as a programme writer, one cannot be sure how big the home advantage really is. One has a reasonable assessment of all the teams, although the two small problems may also be mentioned here: a) the teams do NOT play on a weekly basis and often with different faces and very different motivations, and b) the hosts do nothing but play friendly matches over the entire two-year period. Both of these factors make it difficult to make reliable assessments.
So: based on the current assessments of the teams, there would already be results as far as the chance distributions in the pairings and thus also for the groups, the quarter finals, semi-finals and the whole competition are concerned. Nevertheless, over the many years it has always seemed advisable to make a few adjustments as the European Championship draws nearer. It is, so to speak, like a new Bundesliga season that begins, for which one not only CAN but even MUST make a few adjustments as soon as all the personnel changes are known and taken into account.
Of course, the form of the teams will be taken into account somewhat in the preparatory games – presumably as a rule via the automatic updates made by the computer – but at the same time one allows oneself to make individual adjustments here and there, whereby precisely this is the critical point – and one that is not withheld from the reader. For this would remove a large part of the “objectivity” of the computer that is so readily represented here.
Over the last two European Championships – so that there are a few figures to study – there were the following results, which are commented on below:
EM 2008 Matches Wins Draws Asiege Htore Atore Heimvort
arrived 31 11 6 14 38 35 1.041
expected 31 10.84 8.41 11.73 37.2 39.2 0.974
abs Deviation 0 0.16 -2.41 2.27 0.84 -4.15 0.07
rel. Deviation 0 1.45% -40.17% 16.21% 2.21% -11.86% 6.45%
Determination expected Determination received 37.28% 39.44% Goals ø expected Goals ø arrived 2.46 2.35 ø Goal Deviation ø Goal Deviation Expected 1.83 1.74
Approach to interpretation: Home wins and away wins do not play a role in this sense, since only one team is in front and one is behind, which can be quite arbitrary. In this respect, a deviation there is to be tolerated; it could at most mean that the games as a whole were not so well assessed. However, if a mistake could be identified here, it would be that of the draws. There were 2.5 too few, which could mean that the computer overestimates, overvalues them.
As far as goals are concerned, we can see that it worked out quite well, but that there were about 3.5 goals too few overall. The average was 2.35 goals, but should have been 2.46. This is also a possible error of the computer, which still calculates with normal values, especially in deciding games, while the teams “take no risks” and the referee anyway prefers to rule against the goals in critical decisions.
The determination expected was 37.28%, while the determination received was 39.44%. One can see that this deviation is greater than it has ever been in the Bundesliga. This could be a clear indication that the computer is inclined to underestimate the favourite. This idea makes sense especially because the closer the decision gets, the more seriously the favourites take it and perhaps they do have a so-called “6th gear” in which, once engaged, they are better able to prevail after all, especially if the opponent does not have it available.
The average goal difference in this deviation could also indicate that the assessments were not exactly outstanding.
All in all, it always remains to be noted that the number of 31 games is a rather small one to really be able to derive statements. Here the post was in the way twice, there the referee recognised an offside that wasn’t one and here a clear penalty was overlooked. These are the little things that are often decisive in a game, and in 31 games it can have a slightly negative effect.
Here are the values from the previous European Championships:
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2004 Matches Hsiege Draw Asiege Htore Atore Heimvort
arrived 31 10 11 10 38 36 1.027
expected 31 11.48 7.93 11.58 38.4 38.4 1.000
abs Deviation 0 -1.48 3.07 -1.58 -0.40 -2.42 0.03
rel. Deviation 0 -14.80% 27.91% -15.80% -1.05% -6.72% 2.66%
Determination expected Determination received 40.77% 38.48% ø Goal deviation ø Goal deviation expected 1.74 1.74 Goals ø expected Goals ø arrived 2.4781 2.3871
As you can see well in the comparison: Values that were too small in the 2008 are too large here – and vice versa. Only the goal average has held up reasonably well, and deviates just as much from the expectation. The fix was expected to be too big here, indicating too many underdog wins (remember Greece…). There were too many draws, while in 2008 there were too few, so overall one can say: actually the computer did its job quite well. There are no major mistakes to be seen along the way.
In this respect, it is announced here: soon there will be figures for the European Championship 2012, which will also be compared with the market and processed into virtual bets.