Women's Euros: Spain face tall order as AI makes England marginal trophy favourites

By Sports Desk July 05, 2022

Maybe this time football really is 'coming home'.

Hosts England are widely considered among the favourites to win Euro 2022 as Sarina Wiegman leads the Lionesses onto the big stage, and they can be considered marginal front-runners for a wide-open tournament.

That conclusion is based on modelling from Stats Perform's Artificial Intelligence team, using Opta's data reserves to quantify each team's chances of winning the entire tournament.

Every match has been run through the Stats Perform Women's Euro prediction model to calculate the estimated probability of the outcome (win, draw or loss). This uses odds from betting markets and Stats Perform team rankings, which are based on historical and recent performances.

The model takes into consideration the strength of each team's opponents as well as the difficulty of their respective paths to the final, plus the make-up of the groups and any relevant seedings heading into the knockouts.

The rest of the tournament is then simulated thousands of times and analysed, providing the probability of each team progressing round by round and ultimately lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 31.

Spain have been widely portrayed as favourites, but La Roja might find it hard going in England. Here is a run-down of the AI results, and they might shock you.
 

MOST LIKELY CHAMPIONS

1. England (19.3 per cent)

Runners-up in 1984 and 2009, perhaps England's second European finals on home soil could bring about a triumph the Lionesses have longed to achieve.

They have such immense strength in their forward ranks that Ellen White, joint top scorer at the 2019 World Cup, is not assured of her place in the team. The likes of Ella Toone, Beth Mead and Alessia Russo could push White for the starting spot as striker, with three attackers set to feature in behind, as manager Wiegman looks to blow away the opposition.

England are given an 81.9 per cent chance of coming through the group stage to reach the quarter-finals, a 54.1 per cent shot at getting through to the semi-finals, and a 31.1 per cent hope of making it through to the Wembley trophy match. Their 19.3 per cent chance of carrying off the trophy means it is hardly a given that England will finish bathed in glory, and that is because the opposition is so strong.

2. France (18.5 per cent)

Les Bleues left Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer out of their squad, meaning two of their recognised stars will be conspicuously absent from Corinne Diacre's team.

Stats Perform's women's football Power Rankings puts France second on the global list, behind only the United States, but coach Diacre is dicing with danger by omitting proven performers. Should things go wrong, fingers will likely be pointing her way.

However, at the back France have the stalwart Wendie Renard skippering the side, while in attack the Paris Saint-Germain striker Marie-Antoinette Katoto should make a big impact on her first major senior tournament. They possess quality, notwithstanding the notable absentees.

France have Italy, Belgium and Iceland as Group D rivals and are given a 74.8 per cent chance of advancing and are rated 49.1 per cent shots to make in into the semi-finals.

3. Sweden (14.6 per cent)

FIFA ranks Sweden second in its own rankings, and the Scandinavians were only denied Olympic gold in Tokyo last year after a penalty shoot-out loss to Canada in the final.

They might lack superstar names, but the likes of Barcelona's Fridolina Rolfo, Milan's Kosovare Asllani and Arsenal's Stina Blackstenius are players to keep an eye on.

The Swedes are given an 84.2 per cent chance of reaching the quarter-finals – the highest percentage of all teams – as they head into a group that also features defending champions the Netherlands along with Switzerland and Portugal.

4. Germany (11.5 per cent)

The eight-time winners cannot be ruled out, but they are no longer the team that everyone fears. Starting off in the same pool as Spain complicates their task considerably, with Euro 2017 runners-up Denmark also in Group C, along with Finland.

Given that line-up, Germany are given a 72.8 per cent shot at finishing in the top two and reaching the quarter-finals, plus a 43.2 per cent chance of making the last four and  a 22.0 per cent prospect of getting through to the final.

5. Spain (8.8 per cent)

Some might scoff at Spain being given such a low rating, but they face the same problem as Germany initially, with no guarantee of escaping Group C.

Jorge Vilda's Spain are built on formidable foundations, with players from Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating their squad. Barcelona won all 30 of their domestic league games last year, but their players were knocked out of stride by defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final.

Having the likes of 100-cap playmaker Alexia Putellas in their ranks makes Spain an undoubted threat. However, she has suffered an injury on the eve of the tournament, and Spain have yet to triumph on the big-tournament stage. Like Spain's men before they found a winning formula, the women's football can be a joy to watch, but their efficiency in front of goal can be lacking.

They have reached quarter-finals at the last two editions of the Euros, and are rated as 71.6 per cent likely to at least go that far this time around. Will they reach a final first? The AI analysis gives them just a 19.0 per cent chance of featuring in the Wembley showpiece.

6. Netherlands 7.2 per cent

Champions last time out when they hosted, the Dutch will believe they can defend their title, and the team's opener against Sweden will tell us a lot about their potential.

Englishman Mark Parsons has stepped in to replace Euro 2017-winning boss Wiegman, inheriting a group containing the likes of Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Danielle van de Donk, who are all potential stars of the tournament.

This time the Netherlands are given only a 64.6 per cent chance of advancing to the quarters, and a 15.8 per cent hope of reaching another final. A 5-1 pasting by England in a pre-finals friendly has cast doubt on whether they can be the same force as five years ago. If they fail to top Group C, a likely quarter-final with France awaits.

TITLE CHANCES OF THE REST (all figures are percentages): Belgium 4.5, Italy 2.9, Iceland 2.8, Austria 2.6, Norway 2.3, Switzerland 2.3, Denmark 1.1, Finland 0.6, Portugal 0.6, Northern Ireland 0.3

Related items

  • 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors 'I feel 40' – Birthday boy Doncic dispatches Raptors

    Luka Doncic quipped he feels like he is 40 years old after he celebrated his 25th birthday in style.

    Doncic became the first player in NBA history to finish with a triple-double on their birthday as he led the Dallas Mavericks to a 136-125 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

    He finished with 30 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds for his 11th triple-double of the season.

    Doncic has now had 39 30-point triple-doubles, which sees him surpass LeBron James in the all-time list for that feat.

    When asked if he considered his 25th birthday as a milestone, Doncic joked: "I feel like [I'm] 40, so no."

    Doncic was 11 for 23 from the field and missed 7 of 8 from 3-point range in his 67th career triple-double.

    "Just a normal game, triple-double," Jason Kidd said.

    "He was really good. I guess 25 means he's still going to be really good as he gets older here."

    Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and P.J. Washington Jr. added 23 points for Dallas, as they bounced back from back-to-back defeats.

    "Kyrie and Luka, they had such a poise in important moments to make the right plays," said Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic after his team saw a three-game winning streak snapped.

    Doncic added: "We just played aggressive on defense, got out on transition, that's it. 

    "My team knows when I'm engaged. Everybody helps everyone to be engaged.

    "I'm having so much fun. Back-to-back is always tough, a great win today, I've got to get some rest now."

  • Jordan Henderson was ‘one of our best signings’, says Saudi league vice-chairman Jordan Henderson was ‘one of our best signings’, says Saudi league vice-chairman

    Jordan Henderson’s short-lived move to Saudi Arabia benefited the country’s league “a great deal”, its vice-chairman has said.

    The 33-year-old England midfielder completed a move to Dutch side Ajax last month after leaving Al Ettifaq less than six months into a lucrative three-year contract.

    Henderson hinted at regrets over his move to the Middle East in his introductory press conference in Amsterdam.

    He had previously championed LGBTQ+ rights and was widely condemned over the move to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

    However, Saudi Pro League boss Saad Al Lazeez told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Wednesday: “Jordan Henderson, even though he left, was one of the best signings in the Saudi Pro League.

    “We signed 93 players in the summer window, and I would say 28 to 30 of them would be in anybody’s list of the top 300 players, and you don’t expect all of them to stay.

    “Sometimes things do not work out, sometimes the player does not adapt, you expect those things to happen.

    “But I still maintain Jordan Henderson was one of our best signings, we benefited a great deal from his signing, we’re learning a lot of lessons and we will continue to grow from there.

    “We have been with Jordan throughout his journey from the day we signed him in the UK. We still maintain a good relationship with him. He’s a great guy, a great person. It just did not work out. So that’s life.”

    Henderson said on January 19: “In life, if you want to call them regrets or mistakes, you can call them that.

    “But, at the same time, they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.

    “Looking back, at the time, obviously it was a big decision. It was a decision I felt was right for me and my family at the time, but things happen. Things change quickly in football.

    “I had to make another decision and this (joining Ajax) is the one I felt was right decision for me.”

  • You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win

    Steve Evans was pleased to see his Stevenage side ‘dance in the rain’ as Boro returned to the top six with a 1-0 win over managerless Cambridge in League One.

    Jordan Roberts turned and swivelled on the edge of the box to score and press home Stevenage’s dominance after Us keeper Jack Stevens was called into action on multiple occasions, with his side now just five points above the relegation zone.

    As for Stevenage, they leapfrogged Oxford to move back into the play-off spots and Evans hopes his side have what it takes to weather the challenges ahead in the run-in.

    He said: “When you are in the promotional season, I have been in it many times. There are loads of storms that come.

    “Storms can be opposition, they can be officials or players getting injured. Storms could be bad misses; storms can be bad mistakes at the back or a bad error.

    “But you learn to dance in the rain, and that means you learn to work hard and be disciplined and I thought my players danced in the rain tonight.”

    Stevenage were threatened by Cambridge sporadically in the second half, and the home side failed to add a nerve-settling second goal for the second game in a row after failing to put 10-man Wycombe to the sword on Saturday.

    Evans said: “I think tonight there is no reason why we don’t score more, and we had a couple of one-on-ones and we have to take them.

    “We moved it around and we had big opportunities to get the second goal and then enjoy our evening, but I think this season we have never done it the easy way compared to last year.”

    Cambridge, meanwhile, have won only once in their last six games and find themselves without a manager ahead of a crunch trip to third-place Bolton on Saturday, with Barry Corr expected to take charge in the north-west.

    The interim head coach said: “Stevenage are very direct and get numbers around the ball, and we needed to do something about that.

    “You have to combat Stevenage and they are good at what they do. They spend ages over everything and Stevenage is a difficult place to come this year and they are having a brilliant season.

    “The fixtures have been difficult in the last three games, we played three teams in the top six. I don’t want to make excuses but these games won’t define our season and playing Bolton away won’t define our season.

    “But we will go there and we will look to be as competitive as we can, and we don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.