Monday, October 19, 2009

UEFA Playoff Mini-Preview

The draw took place earlier today. The matchups are:
Ireland - France
Portugal - Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece - Ukraine
Russia - Slovenia

The playoffs will take place November 14th and 18th. The team listed first plays at home first.

I actually had the teams pretty similarly ranked to the FIFA rankings. From best to worst I had it: France, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Ukraine, Slovenia, Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia are an interesting case as they rate the best at scoring but are by far the worst defensively. Russia are the best defensively and I was surprised to see them 6th out of these 8 teams when it comes to scoring. Given the rankings, you could say that Portugal and Ukraine were fortunate while Greece and Ireland were the most unlucky. These rankings and the predictions below are all based on matches from both qualifying and the finals of Euro 2008 and the qualifying matches for this world cup.


I had to add a bit to the PLM, which I'll write more about later today or tomorrow, in order to get predictions because of the format. The playoff round is played out like the Champions League knockout round. Each team plays a home game, the scores are added together and if a team is ahead at that point they go through. If the two teams have the same number of goals then the team with the most away goals advances (no idea why they say they count double as that's confusing). If the scores in each leg are the same, so the teams are tied with the same number of away goals, then they go to extra time and penalties. The away-goals rule counts in extra time as well so if both teams score a goal then the away team that leg goes through.

A caveat about these predictions. They assume that in the case of extra time and penalties each team is equally likely to win. That's probably not realistic as it seems like the home team in the second leg is more likely to win in those situations. I went with a coin flip because I'm not sure what assumption to make. That's something I'll get into later before I do the full previews for these playoffs. Therefore, you should probably slightly (probably half a percent or so) adjust things to the second team. Also keep in mind that injuries are not taken into account.

Ireland - France:
Ireland: 38.9%
France: 61.1%

Portugal - Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Portugal: 70.5%
Bosnia-Herzegovina: 29.5%

Greece - Ukraine:
Greece: 55.1%
Ukraine: 44.9%

Russia - Slovenia:
Russia: 58.4%
Slovenia: 41.6%

I'm surprised how close a lot of these are to be honest. It shows how much variance there is in a two-legged tie.

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