Hybrid Machine Learning Forecasts for the UEFA EURO 2020

Andreas Groll, Lars Magnus Hvattum, Christophe Ley, Franziska Popp, Gunther Schauberger, Hans Van Eetvelde, Achim Zeileis

Three state-of-the-art statistical ranking methods for forecasting football matches are combined with several other predictors in a hybrid machine learning model. Namely an ability estimate for every team based on historic matches; an ability estimate for every team based on bookmaker consensus; average plus-minus player ratings based on their individual performances in their home clubs and national teams; and further team covariates (e.g., market value, team structure) and country-specific socio-economic factors (population, GDP). The proposed combined approach is used for learning the number of goals scored in the matches from the four previous UEFA EUROs 2004-2016 and then applied to current information to forecast the upcoming UEFA EURO 2020. Based on the resulting estimates, the tournament is simulated repeatedly and winning probabilities are obtained for all teams. A random forest model favors the current World Champion France with a winning probability of 14.8% before England (13.5%) and Spain (12.3%). Additionally, we provide survival probabilities for all teams and at all tournament stages.

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