Euro 2020 Simulation

By | April 15, 2020

As of the writing of this blog post, there are over two million cases of coronavirus worldwide. Sports have been particularly affected, having all major seasons, events, and tournaments canceled. One of the most prominent of which is the rescheduling of the Euro. Obviously, these precautions were enacted with the safety of the athletes and their families in mind. However, personally, as a fan, I have deeply missed spectating these contests. As a result, I decided to simulate the tournament that was supposed to be played this summer.


Simulation Engine

I simulated these matches using the FootySimulator. For each match, I simulated 99 games at a neutral venue. For elimination games, I played extra time and then penalty kicks, while just full time was used for group stage matches. The aggregate goal differential was recorded for the group stage in the event of a need for a tiebreaker.


Play-In Games

Iceland won play-in bracket A to join group F. Bosnia and Herzegovina won play-in bracket B to join group E. Norway won play-in bracket C to join group D. North Macedonia won play-in bracket D to join group C. With these matches out of the way, I could begin the group stages of the tournament.


Group Stage

24 teams qualify for the group stage. There are 6 groups of 4 teams. Each team plays the other 3 teams within its group. From there, the top 2 teams within each group advance along with the top 4 teams finishing 3rd in their respective groups.


Here are the results of all the simulations from the group stages. The goal differential column was only used in the event of tie breaks. The top two teams from every group advance, and France, Austria, Sweden, and Turkey advance from their groups based on goal differential. The group of death, group F earned its name with each of the top three teams going 1-1 vs the other two and the final standings were decided based on goal differential.


Knockout Stage

After the bottom 8 teams were eliminated, and the seeding was set, I had to learn about how to set up the Euro knockout stage. After some research and referencing some helpful charts and diagrams, the bracket was set. (Which groups the third-placed teams qualify from, dictate the matchups of the tournament).

Once the bracket was set, I simulated all the rounds as usual. The score is how many of the 99 games each team won. The seeds do not accurately reflect rankings, just which team is favored to win each matchup.

Belgium, the team that is currently ranked #1 in the world, won the simulated tournament. This is not surprising because over 99 tournaments, the best team should be the victor. There are few upsets in this bracket (or “chalk”). I’m sure that the results would be different if I only simulated one match for each round, and this would be an interesting experiment to pursue. Another limiting factor of this tournament was that draws were not considered in the group stage. These often complicate the qualifying process and would be a great addition to a future simulation. A lot could change in a year, so this prediction may not stay accurate, but it quenched my thirst for a soccer tournament at least for the time being.

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