Harry Kane may be able to rejoice over a championship trophy for the first time since Bobby Moore received the World Cup Trophy 55 years ago, also that time at Wembley.
Harry Kane may be able to rejoice over a championship trophy for the first time since Bobby Moore received the World Cup Trophy 55 years ago, also that time at Wembley.

England will win the European Championship, according to Norwegian calculations

England comes out on top when the Norwegian Computing Center calculates the outcome of the remaining games.

The Norwegian Computing Centre has simulated the maintaining games of the UEFA Football Championship 100 000 times just since the Ukraine beat Sweden in the knockouts.

The calculations show that England and Belgium are the great favourites to win the championship, with England coming out just ahead of Belgium.

“The reason England comes out on top is that their road to the finals is much easier. These calculations may of course change as the games proceed”, says Magne Aldrin, research leader at the Norwegian Computing Center.

Belgium for instance, is playing Italy in the first quarter finals this Friday. The winner will no doubt get a higher place on the list when a new set of 100 000 simulations are performed.

Before the championship, the Norwegian Computing Center has their computers play all the games based on the input from 15 football experts. At this point in the championship, the results from games that have been played have the most say for what the computers calculate.

Here are the numbers:

Before the quarter finals start tomorrow July 2nd, the Norwegian Computing Center has calculated the likelihood for each of the remaining countries of reaching the top:

  • England 27,0 %
  • Belgium 26,1 %
  • Spain 14,1 %
  • Italy 13,5 %
  • Denmark 9,6 %
  • Czech Republic 6,1 %
  • Switzerland 2,3 %
  • Ukraine 1,2 %

The order is the same in the calculations of which teams are most likely to be playing in the finals at Wembley on July 11th. There’s a 52,2 per cent chance that England will be there, and a 40,7 per cent chance that Belgium will reach that far as well.

Norwegian football coach legend Drillo gets it

The Norwegian football coach Egil ‘Drillo’ Olsen does not disagree with the results of the simulations.

“That England comes out as the favourite? I can understand that. Denmark has also surprised me in a positive way”, he says. The former football coach for the Norwegian football team is now an expert commentator on the sport.

He himself however uses different technology than the Norwegian Computing Center.

“Opta Sports usually comes closes. They operate with XG, ‘expected goals’. They also evaluate all the finishes, distance to the goal, angles, distance to opponents, and then this gives you a certain chance of scoring a goal”, he explains.

“It’s a more scientific way of do what us coaches used to do in the good old days, when we counted goal scoring chances”, he says.

Egil 'Drillo' Olsen believes England has a chance, but also points to Denmark as a favourite.
Egil 'Drillo' Olsen believes England has a chance, but also points to Denmark as a favourite.

Disappointed by Belgium

Before the start of the UEFA European Football Championship, Belgium was one of the great favourites. According to Olsen, Denmark won the game against Belgium according to XG and goal scoring chances – but the actual results ended up being 2-1 to Belgium.

“I have 7-4 on Denmark. Belgium is one of the countries that has disappointed me the most. They have been lucky”, Olsen says.

In addition to England and Denmark, Olsen suggests Spain as a team that could make it all the way. Ukraine is the weakest team, according to the former top coach.

England is up against Ukraine in the quarter finals. If they win this they will then play whoever wins between Denmark and the Czech Republic.

A one in five chance

The Norwegian Computing Center has simulated and calculated football results since 1993. At that time, Norway had a chance of qualifying for the World Cup if they beat Poland.

“We said that there was a certain likelihood that Norway would manage to qualify”, Magne Aldrin from the Center says to sciencenorway.no.

Magne Aldrin performs well in betting competitions based on calcualtions from the Norwegian Computing Center.
Magne Aldrin performs well in betting competitions based on calcualtions from the Norwegian Computing Center.

Aldrin was present at the game. When goalie Erik Thorstvedt was sent off quite early in the second half, he became quite nervous. But Norway did win, the calculations from the Norwegian Computing Center were correct.

And they have been right about games several other times.

“But we can’t really know with a very high level of certainty who will win. In advance, the biggest favourite has a 20 per cent chance of winning”, Aldrin says.

This means that calculations will give the right winner in one out of five championships.

37th place in the UEFA betting competition

The chances that calculations can come up with the right results for single games however, are quite high. Aldrin himself enjoys taking part in the various football betting competitions.

“In UEFAs betting competition we’re on 37th place out of the 8800 Norwegians who are partaking. That’s not too bad”, he says.

“In the EM-profeten in Norwegian newspaper VG, where more than 80 000 people are partaking, we’re just under the 500th place. Usually we’re among the 10 per cent best, sometimes among the 2 per cent best.”

But the Computing Center computers don’t always get it right. Before the European Championship in 2004 they calculated that Greece had a 0,0 per cent chance of winning. This missed the mark by 100 per cent. After this great miss the calculations are never below a 0,1 per cent winning chance.

Translated by: Ida Irene Bergstrøm

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Read the Norwegian version of this article on forskning.no

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