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

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


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


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


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