Final Prediction

Before I begin I’ll just clarify two things:
1) Yes Portugal have had an easy run to the finals and have been lucky but their consistency in numbers through the group stages and the knockout rounds shows that they have enough quality to create chances and prevent the opposition from getting through.
2) France’s only real challenge was against the Germans, but even then they were only playing on the counter through the flanks to a very nullified back four and so they haven’t exactly been “tested” on the attacking front yet.

OKAY, so as always I’ll try to give an unbiased prediction of who I think will win and why, but as we saw last week I’m far from good at this. Anyhow, this is the last game of the tournament and there’s a good 50% chance I’ll get this right.

TTSF: Time to Shoot For
TTSA: Time to Shoot Against
xGF: Expected Goals For
xGA: Expected Goals Against
xGF/SF: Expected Goals For per Shot For
xGA/SA: Expected Goals Against per Shot Against

Portugal vs. France

Average Possession

            TTSF 

            TTSA

           xGF

            xGA

                 xGF/SF

          xGA/SA

Portugal

53.4%

153.1

264.9

9.5

4.5

0.084

0.079

France

53.8%

164.4

253.7

9.6

4.2

0.091

0.071

It’s not hard to tell why they’re the finalists. Both have very high xG, similar average possession, and take around the same time to shoot. What this means is that both Portugal and France have consistently created good goalscoring chances throughout the tournament; and being the finalists, it is evident that they have capitalized and made use of what they have been presented with.
Neither team has faced a really good team yet (exception being Germany), which is why it is tough to tell who will win. Portugal have implemented this diamond formation of sorts where the central midfielders offer less going forward but are used more as defenders to recycle the ball in midfield. Adrien Silva plays in that centre mid role but he is there to dominate territory and regain possession and give it off to Joao Mario or Renato Sanches. The two are not exactly wingers in this formation, but they play almost as wide attacking mids carrying the ball to Nani and Ronaldo. The width is provided by their full backs in this system, which was made evident in their game against Wales.

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Adrien Silva and Danilo Pereira rarely connect with attackers, the attacking movement is carried by the fullbacks past the midfield.

France, on the other hand have developed a finally functioning system where Griezmann plays just off Giroud. What helps in this is that Griezmann’s willingness to track back and help out in defence is actually utilized. Giroud stays a little bit uninvolved, but because the forward players are linking up better in this system, he is able to do what a true #9 does; which is to stay and wait for his chances.

France in the knockouts vs. France in the group stages.
France in the knockouts vs. France in the group stages.

Both teams set up very nicely in their own ways, they both have solid defences and are good at going forward. It looks a really even game to me, one that will probably extend into extra time.  So I predict that the game will end 1-1 (or at least tied) after 90 minutes, and will be forced into extra time. And after that I don’t know what will happen but it will be good to watch!

Intangibles to consider:
– Ronaldo
– France having HFA (home field advantage, and the effect of home field is measurable it’s just I don’t know enough to factor that into this article so for the moment it’s classified as an intangible)
– It’s a final game, quite literally anything can happen with so much on the line

A big thank you to everyone who has followed this so far, sorry about all the inconsistencies in formatting but I’ll fix it soon enough. Let me know what type of things you want me to write about in this coming season.


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More on TTS: https://deepxg.com/2016/04/05/time-to-shot/
xG data: https://twitter.com/MC_of_A
Passing maps: https://twitter.com/11tegen11

Semi Final Predictions

So far predictions have been quite inaccurate, but as Van Gaal would put it; it’s a process.

*Please pardon the inconsistent formatting of the tables, I’m trying to find a work around it still!

TTSF: Time to Shoot For
TTSA: Time to Shoot Against
xGF: Expected Goals For
xGA: Expected Goals Against
xGF/SF: Expected Goals For per Shot For
xGA/SA: Expected Goals Against per Shot Against

Portugal vs. Wales

Average Possession

            TTSF 

            TTSA

           xGF

            xGA

                 xGF/SF

          xGA/SA

Portugal

55.1%

156.6

252.6

7.4

4

0.078

0.083

Wales

47.3%

212.9

222.3

5.4

5

0.090

0.078

This has been a recurring theme with Portugal, they take a high volume of shots, but ones of low quality, and Wales take good quality shots in small quantity. The one thing going against Portugal this time will be that Pepe is out injured. Meaning that they’ll have to play Bruno Alves at the back. Portugal were already very insecure at the back and now with Pepe gone, there will be more areas for Wales to exploit, especially given how Alves has had no playing time in the tournament yet. It’s not all good for Wales though, they’ve got their own issue in Aaron Ramsey’s suspension (seriously though, how does two yellows in five games = suspension?).

Either way, both teams will have to adjust given their altered starting xi’s. Portugal’s inability to finish off games just tells me that Wales will edge it. Wales will win the game 2-1 in extra time.


Germany vs. France

Average Possession

            TTSF 

            TTSA

           xGF

            xGA

                 xGF/SF

          xGA/SA

Germany

63%

179.1

302.7

10.1

1.9

0.106

0.058

France

57.2%

171.6

281.9

8.6

3.6

0.096

0.088

This might as well just be the finals. Both teams have performed exceptionally well so far, but after Germany’s tight game against Italy they’d have realized that they have to be more convincing in front of goal. Gomez, Khedira, and Schweinsteiger are all probably not going to play. And as a neutral fan I’m actually a little excited because we might get to see players like Sane and Weigl get good amount of playing time. The thing with France is that against Iceland, I think they figured out how their team plays best, this paired with the fact that Germany have a depleted team gives them a slight edge over the Germans.
There’s that, and then we can recall what happened the last time Germany played the hosts in a tournament semi final (Germany 7-1 Brazil). For the record that’s not something I’m factoring into my predictions.

I think Germany will go on to the finals, I just don’t see them crashing out in a semi finals like this. Scoreline: Germany 2-1 France.


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Quarter Final Predictions

Just like last time, I’ll try and come up with reasonable guesses as to who will win these ties. I say guesses because they were really nothing more than that! I think I might have oversimplified A LOT in my last article hence some (most) of the erroneous predictions. I won’t justify my poor analysis/judgement/use of media(?) though, and will try and sharpen my way of thinking rather than finding excuses.

I’ll use the same metrics this time, and I’ve decided to carry on with using these throughout the tournament in a really experimental and trial sort of a way. So when the season starts, I have a set of data to refer to from which I had previously drawn patterns – no matter how small the sample size may be.

TTSF: Time to Shoot For
TTSA: Time to Shoot Against
xGF: Expected Goals For
xGA: Expected Goals Against
xGF/SF: Expected Goals For per Shot For
xGA/SA: Expected Goals Against per Shot Against

Poland vs. Portugal

Average 
Possession
TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Poland 45.80% 183.2 177.4 4.2 3.5 0.078 0.053
Portugal 56.70% 161.1 275.1 6 3.4 0.079 0.100

The one thing which stands out right away is the quality of shots against Poland vs. the quality of shots against Portugal. Portugal are conceding better quality shots, which acts as a threat to their fragile defense. They deployed Fonte at the back with Pepe vs. Croatia and it seemed to work well – helped by the fact that Croatia weren’t looking to attack them for most of the game. However, I still feel they maybe exposed at the back and Poland can win this game.
It is tough to call for Poland though, they have failed to convert a lot of their good chances. I included the average possession stat because I think it helps putting into perspective the TTS stats. Poland have the ball for about 46% of the game, and from that amount of time, they are shooting less frequently than Portugal. No doubt that Poland are a good attacking side, and defensively they have played well too. But just the fact Portugal’s shot volume is so high compared to Poland’s, it makes me feel that better chances will come for their side and they will beat Poland to advance into the semi finals.
ps. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed what an impact Quaresma and Renato Sanches had off the bench, pretty confident that they will start against Poland.

I predict Portugal will win over Poland with a score of 2-1.


Wales vs. Belgium

Average Possession TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Wales 47.20% 226.6 228.1 3.5 4 0.078 0.080
Belgium 52.10% 140.7 206.9 7.4 3.7 0.093


0.074

I really have liked Wales so far, but I can only see this going one way. Belgium are shooting a lot more frequently than Wales, on average they have possession for longer than Wales, and they are even producing better quality shots (0.093 xGF/SF vs. 0.078 xGF/SF). From what I have seen, Wales have had a midfield which is over reliant on Joe Allen recycling the ball, and Belgium should not have a problem nullifying him.
And after that performance by Hazard against Hungary, I get the feeling that Belgium have now really turned up and are looking to attack each team mercilessly. I think Wales not shooting enough, paired with the fact that Belgium don’t allow that many shots anyway just shows how tough it can get for Wales to find a chance which will enable them to take charge of the game. Ashley Williams might not play, and the Welsh back three system is still not a solid structure, it is one which can be taken advantage of.

Gareth Bale has played commendably well so far, but Belgium just look the better team which forces me to go with a 2-1 win for Belgium.


Germany vs. Italy

Average Possession TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Germany 64.10% 166.8 369.3 8.7 1.5 0.105 0.071
Italy 47.30% 283.8 237.2 4.6 3.6 0.128

0.075

This is the game everyone is looking forward to. Italy put on a warrior-like display and went past Spain, and now they’re gunning for Germany. I just feel like Germany are an all around better team. They keep the ball for longer, and they use it very effectively by creating enough chances to keep them at 0.105 xG per shot that they take. Even when they don’t have the ball, they give chances very rarely, and these chances are not chances that can be converted easily. On the other hand, Italy are making great use of their possession. They don’t keep the ball for too long but when they have it, they are able to construct good scoring opportunities because of how long they take to get a shot away (in other words: they take longer to shoot because they wait for the best opportunity).
Defensively both teams have been great, it takes a long time for the opposition to get a shot against them. Neuer and Buffon have not conceded a single goal yet which makes this even more intriguing for us to watch. Something to look out for from Italy’s point of view is Pelle – his link up play with Eder looks very synchronized, and there are no signs of lethargy from the pair of strikers.

I didn’t mention that Germany are better than Italy in *this* aspect or that Italy are better in *that* aspect at all, simply because I really can’t find anyway to put one over the other given the way they have performed which is reflected in their statistics. However, for the sake of making a prediction, I will say that I think Germany will win 4-2, because well, they are Germans after all, right?


France vs. Iceland

Average Possession TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
France 56.70% 163.3 311.8 6.2 2.2 0.083 0.073
Iceland 34.90% 243.2 178.0 4.1 5 0.132 0.063

The problem in this matchup is that Iceland are carrying no pressure, but France are under a lot of pressure being the home nation. Iceland have had such few shots that their xGF/SF number is really inflated. I really don’t know what you can label this as. Luck? Teamwork? Determination?
Anyhow, after last weeks little experiment with the France lineup, I think Deschamps finally found his best lineup as well. The 442 worked really well, with Griezmann & Giroud at the top, and Payet & Coman on the wings. France were able to carve out more opportunities and were able to comeback from a 1-0 deficit to win the game and advance to the next round.

I didn’t discuss about the numbers this time because Iceland is just having that type of a tournament where we can’t forecast anything. Nevertheless, I think France will win, they don’t want to experience what England have just gone through. I predict that France will win 2-0.


I know, I was unable to provide my stance on half of the games, but I’m still only learning how tangibles in soccer can influence future games; I don’t even know if I am using these numbers correctly! Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments.

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Round of 16 Predictions

My main issue with looking at tournaments is the small sample size that is available for any type of interpretation going into the next round of games. However, I will take the freedom to completely neglect all the intangibles and just look at what SHOULD happen (in my opinion) based on what has happened in the group stage games.

Before we begin, I will introduce the metrics that I will be using to base my predictions.
1) TTS: Time To Shoot, how long a team takes (in seconds) to take a shot when they are in possession of the ball
2) xG: Expected Goals, how likely it is for shot to become a goal
3) xG/S: How many expected goals are added every time the team takes a shot

*Disclaimer: this is as much an experiment for me as it is for you, it has taken me quite a long time to come up with some sort of a metric which I think is appropriate. I may be completely flawed in my conjecture, nonetheless, here’s how it is:

TTSF: Time to Shoot For
TTSA: Time to Shoot Against
xGF: Expected Goals For
xGA: Expected Goals Against
xGF/SF: Expected Goals For per Shot For
xGA/SA: Expected Goals Against per Shot Against

Switzerland vs. Poland

  TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Poland 218.2 237.3 2.5 2 0.074 0.054
Switzerland 234.5 194.9 3.6 2.6 0.090 0.074

The two teams have quietly done well during the group stages, which makes for a game which I am quite looking forward to. Evidently, Poland are a better team when it comes to taking shots quickly and making the most of their possession, whereas Switzerland are giving away too many shots too quickly. This is also reflected in their respective expected goals against, where it is a higher number than that of Poland.
What should also be noticed, however, is that Switzerland are taking better shots than are Poland, because although they take longer to shoot, the quality of their shots are generally better as shown by their higher expected goals for number. Both the teams have a relatively low difference between their xGF/SF and xGA/SA. And that makes sense because majority of the games the teams played in the group stages were very tight and none finished with a margin of greater than one goal.

All that in mind, I predict a game where Poland will come out on top with a narrow margin of a 1-0 win.


Wales vs. Northern Ireland

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Wales 190.1 199.4 3.3 3.8 0.087 0.064
Northern Ireland 325.0 175.0 1.1 5.1 0.065 0.084

I think it is fairly clear that Wales are beating Northern Ireland in every stat. With Wales having topped their group and Northern Ireland only coming third, this game has a Wales win written all over it. Wales have not been particularly strong with their 3-man defensive system, but I can’t see Northern Ireland penetrating their back enough to score a goal AND win the game.

Will be expecting a comfortable 2-0 win from Wales.


Croatia vs. Portugal

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Croatia 153.7 279.6 5.3 2.7 0.108 0.087
Portugal 141.6 369.7 4.8 2.1 0.069 0.124

Portugal have been largely unlucky, but at the same time, Croatia also had quite an unusual game against Spain and that has made it rather complicated for me to understand what all that data means.
The first standout stat for me is that it takes a long time for a team to get a shot off against Portugal. Again, I have my doubts given the quality of opposition they faced (also reflected by xGA) in the group stages, but we’ll give Portugal’s defence the benefit of the doubt and expect that they will not concede many more shots in the knockout stages. After all the Cristiano Ronaldo shots that we’ve seen, it comes as surprise that Croatia still have a higher xGF number. But Ronaldo has been taking…. odd 40 yard shots almost every second minute so it comes as no surprise that despite shooting so frequently, their statistics are still so lopsided. It maybe of concern that Portugal have such a high xGA/SA, but they only concede a shot every 6 minutes or so which is a very healthy rate. Croatia have got very promising shooting numbers, and just like Portugal, they don’t concede a shot very often. Despite a tough group, Croatia have been very well versed and dominant in how to approach and play all their games.

Portugal have a team that is built solely around Ronaldo, and that imbalance has been shown three times already as they only scraped past into the round of 16 from a group where they really should have won all the games. With Modric & Mandzukic coming back for Croatia, and them coming off the back of a 2-1 win against Spain, I have the feeling that Croatia will win this game 3-1.


France vs. Republic of Ireland

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
France 176.6 307.1 4 1.9 0.080 0.0079
Republic of Ireland 237.3 305.0 1.7 2.3 0.055 0.0079

Is it just me or does it feel like France still don’t have their best starting xi sorted out? I don’t know, it’s just that I get a very uncertain type of a feeling from France, especially Griezmann who has definitely not been the same player after the Champions League final.
France have performed well though, and they have a very good xGA/SA metric. This coupled with Ireland’s relatively poor xGF/SF number tells me that Ireland will not have plenty of chances to win this game. On the other hand, France have been shooting consistently and at a healthy rate of 0.080 xGF every time they shoot. By the look of it, Ireland and France both have done a good job in preventing shots, which leaves me to believe that this game will depend solely on who can score the first goal, whoever does that will win the game.

Looking at the way things have gone, and how Ireland only beat a weakened Italy side, I will go for a win for the hosts, 1-0 being the final score.


Germany vs. Slovakia

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Germany 173.8 387.6 6.4 1 0.103 0.071
Slovakia 287.9 158.5 2.7 4.2 0.104 0.076

Slovakia’s defence has been very good. They’ve blocked all sorts of shots and even scored when they should have. Generally, they look like a team who have defended and known when they needed to get forward. The problem is, when you look at those numbers, it’s a complete mismatch.
It will be expected of Slovakia to play on the counter but even then, they will not get enough of a chance to take a good quality shot. Germany give away a shot roughly every 387.6 seconds when they don’t have the ball and every one of those shots contributes to around 0.071 expected goals against them. Let’s say that Slovakia is able to score on a break like that, even then, Germany’s offensive numbers are so overwhelmingly high that it will be just a matter of time before they can take control and score a few goals themselves.

The World Champions aren’t exactly perfect though, their finishing has been unlucky/poor/lazy but in the knockout stages I believe they will be more serious and clinical and move onto the 1/4 finals. I predict Germany will win 3-0.


Hungary vs. Belgium

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Hungary 239.3 182.0 2 2.4 0.057 0.056
Belgium 155.3 220.6 4.1 2.6 0.073 0.076

Hungary have been quite the surprise package of the tournament, scoring 3 really odd goals against Portugal and topping the group has made them fun to watch – but it won’t last for too long. Belgium had a rough start against Italy, but they’ve done very well and have put up impressive numbers to come back from that defeat and assure the bookies that they’re not out of it yet.
Hungary are conceding more shots, but have lower expected goals against… rather weird UNTIL you realize that Ronaldo had been shooting from all over the place (more bad quality shots = lower xGA). Other than that, Belgium seem to be consistently shooting, and shooting from good positions. They are contributing a lot to their xGF/SF but at the back end, they are conceding a worrying amount of expected goals per shot against them. Their saving grace is that they shoot a lot more frequently than they concede a shot, making them favourites coming into the game.

Unless Hungary can pull off yet another unexpected result, Belgium should be winning this game; my prediction is that they’ll win the game 3-1.


Italy vs. Spain

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
Italy 315.6 244.4 2.4 2.4 0.096 0.071
Spain 202.3 217.8 6.5 1.9 0.127 0.070

I wish this game had happened later in the tournament because two games in, I had the impression that it would be a Spain vs. Italy final. But Spain somehow managed to lose to Croatia and now we’re stuck here with a game which will knockout two teams who don’t deserve to go so early.
Nevertheless, one of them has to go and as it stands, it looks like Spain might edge it. They have better attacking numbers, and they are not leaking chances an unsustainable number of chances at the back. What I will say though, is that in the last group game vs. Ireland, Italy played a significantly weaker team and lost. This hurt their statistics a lot and it does not exactly provide the true picture of what the best Italy side can do (the side we will expect to play on Monday). Spain are putting really impressive numbers on the board, and despite of what I just said, Italy have really only just been good enough till this point.
Italy have scored when they have had the chances (2.4 xGF = good chances), but chances they have been shooting quite a low amount (shot every 315.6 seconds!).

I really don’t know, it’s such a tough game to call EVEN THOUGH EVIDENTLY SPAIN HAVE BETTER NUMBERS, this is just one game where numbers may not be right. Not sure about this prediction, I can be completely wrong, but I’m siding with Spain for a penalties win after the game ends 1-1 in regular time.


England vs. Iceland

TTSF TTSA xGF xGA xGF/SF xGA/SA
England 146.6 378.9 5.1 1.2 0.080 0.067
Iceland 241.6 174.5 2.9 4.2 0.126 0.069

Let’s just say Group F was a total mess. How Austria and Portugal finished last two is still quite astonishing, but fair play to Iceland and Hungary. Iceland, just like Hungary have been quite unpredictable. With help from rather suspect defending they have accumulated a very healthy expected goals number of 2.9. They have though, at the same time given 4.2 expected goals away… thanks once again to Ronaldo’s 39.12 yard efforts! All in all, they have played well and with a bit of luck, deserve to be in the knockout stages.
England on the other hand, have been a little bit like Germany – they have created really good chances, and have posted amazing numbers, but their finishing has been poor which resulted them in finishing second in their group and making the knockout stages tree so lopsided. Somehow, Iceland have one of the highest xGF/SF at 0.126, but they are shooting quite infrequently so they need to get in the opposition box more if they want to make that statistic count.

England will probably win the game; but they will make it hard for themselves and find themselves in a hole of criticism again. Prediction: England wins 2-1.


Conclusively, just a big thank you for reading all of this. It was really fun and frustrating for me to try and figure out how to populate and present all the data.
Let me know your predictions in the comments below!

Follow this blog and connect with me on twitter!
https://twitter.com/Yatin_Kapur

More on TTS: https://deepxg.com/2016/04/05/time-to-shot/
xG data: https://twitter.com/MC_of_A