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Jul 19, 2017

UEFA Women's Euro 2017 betting

How to use FIFA rankings to your advantage

The challenges of betting on women's soccer

Using a Monte Carlo simulation to predict results

UEFA Women's Euro 2017 betting

The 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro Championship finals take place in the Netherlands across seven venues, running from July 16 to August 6. It will be the ninth such competition that has been officially recognised by UEFA. Can anyone challenge reigning champions Germany for the title? Read on to find out.

A change in tournament structure

This year will be the first time the Women's Euro Championship finals has comprised of 16 teams (formerly 12, 8 and 4 teamed competitions existed) and the format will follow the familiar four groups of four teams, with the top two in each group progressing to a seeded knockout tournament beginning with the quarter finals.

The teams include the powerful German side, currently ranked top of FIFA’s rankings and winners of eight of the last nine tournaments, inclusive of the precursors to the fully recognised tournament - Germany are currently favourites to win the competition outright at 2.65*

  • Will Germany win Women's Euro 2017? Bet now.

Also taking part are Portugal (153.78*), Austria (77.40*), Belgium (77.40*), Switzerland (26.48*) and Scotland (102.86*), each of whom are making their debuts at the finals - something reflected in their high odds to win in the outright Women's Euro 2017 betting.

The dominant force in women's soccer

The women’s Euros have had at least eight sides competing at the finals since the 1997 competition and each time the trophy has been lifted by Germany. They have averaged 2.22 goals per finals game over that period, conceding just 0.4 of a goal per match, winning 22 games, drawing 4 and losing just once.

Their record is substantially better than all other countries in the Euro finals and only France (3.51*), Norway (26.48*) and Sweden (9.67*) of the other 15 qualifiers in 2017 can boast a positive goal differential from their efforts at the finals.

Team’s such as Iceland, Russia, France and the Netherlands who either failed to qualify or even field a side in the early years of the competition are now competitive.

Germany's exceptional record is also underpinned by two successful World Cup campaigns and a consistent presence in the top two positions in the FIFA rankings since their inception in 2003.

They were flawless in qualifying, winning all eight matches without conceding a single goal, while scoring 35 of their own - so it is no surprise to see the holders heading the field.

The challenges of betting on women's soccer

The successful development of the women’s game can be measured in the strengthening and expansion of domestic leagues, along with the increasing number of countries participating in the qualifying process for major competitions. However, this rapid growth can also present difficulties in evaluating the quality of international sides.

Team’s such as Iceland, Russia, France and the Netherlands who either failed to qualify or even field a side in the early years of the competition are now competitive in both the group and knockout stages - highlighting that countries may show distinct improvement over time.

For example, the average ranking of the five countries making their debut at this year’s finals was 34th when the FIFA rankings were introduced, but that has improved to 24th in 2017.

Using FIFA rankings to your advantage

The FIFA ranking, based on a performance related assessment of each side’s results has only been produced for the women’s game since 2003 and in the absence of the wealth of advanced data that characterises the men’s game, they do provide a good proxy for team ability.

In a previous article on the women’s World Cup in Canada, we looked at the historical relationship between FIFA rankings and game outcome.

The rapid growth of women's soccer presents difficulties in evaluating the quality of international sides.

As the gap between the rankings of the teams increases so does the likelihood that the higher ranked team will win the game and useful pointers can also be gained regarding the amount of goals which particular match-ups may yield.

Sides ranked high in the FIFA rankings are well represented in the Netherlands. The finalists comprise almost exclusively of teams that were seeded from either Pot A or B for the qualification process with only Portugal breaking the trend by negotiating a playoff to represent Pot D in the Netherlands.

The full list of current FIFA ranking are shown in the table below:

Women's FIFA soccer rankings

Team

FIFA Rank

 Germany

1

 France

3

 England

4

 Sweden

6

 Norway

11

 Netherlands

12

 Spain

13

 Denmark

15

  Switzerland

16

 Iceland

18

 Italy

19

 Scotland

21

 Belgium

23

 Austria

24

 Russia

25

 Portugal

38

FIFA’s number one seeded side, Germany, will face Sweden (ranked 6th), Italy (19th) and Russia (25th) in their group matches.

If we use the historical relationship between FIFA ranking and match result from the previous article as a basis for predicting the implied probabilities of a German win, draw or defeat in their three group matches, along with the remaining three matches involving the other three countries we might arrive at the following figures. 

Historical odds for Group B fixtures

Team 1

Team 2

1

X

2

Germany

Sweden

0.66

0.2

0.14

Germany

Italy

0.88

0.09

0.03

Germany

Russia

0.93

0.05

0.02

Sweden

Italy

0.66

0.2

0.14

Sweden

Russia

0.74

0.15

0.11

Italy

Russia

0.48

0.24

0.28

The squads have yet to be finalised, but along with the inevitable mismatches, particularly when arguably the most successful women’s international team of all time is involved, the group matches are likely to produce some competitive contests - this is likely to be the case when the two outsiders from each group meet each other.

Germany will be heavily favoured to defeat both Italy and Russia, perhaps suggesting a bet on the handicap markets may be more appealing than an outright wager on these games.

By forming a view on the individual group matches, we can also run a Monte Carlo simulation of the outcomes of all six matches through 1,000’s of iterations to calculate how often Germany would top the group or finish second or indeed fail to progress to the knockout stages.

Here’s a typical summation of the relative final group outcomes using the probabilities from the previous table:

Women's Euro 2017 Group B Monte Carlo simulation

Position

Germany

Sweden

Italy

Russia

1

0.79

0.19

0.02

0.01

2

0.19

0.57

0.15

0.10

3

0.03

0.18

0.48

0.31

4

0.00

0.06

0.36

0.57

Unsurprisingly, as the odds on favourite to win each of their three group matches, Germany are also strongly fancied to advance to the knockout stage. The figures in the table above have been rounded, but in only around 3 out of every 100 simulations of Group B do the German women fail to advance.

If, as seems almost certain, Germany progress to the knockout stages, they will then meet a side from Group A, most likely the hosts or Norway. Both currently ranking outside FIFA’s top 10 and if successful this game will be followed by a side from either Group C or D in the semi-final.

In the absence of the wealth of advanced data that characterises the men’s game, FIFA rankings in women's soccer do provide a good proxy for team ability.

Just as it was possible to simulate the group stage armed with an estimation of a side’s chances based on FIFA rankings, the same can be done for the knockout stage, incorporating the chances that a side will win in extra time or by a penalty shootout should the need arise and the multitude of alternative routes that could result in an appearance in the final.

Once again, Germany emerge as the most likely outright winners of the tournament, winning through each stage of the tournament in around 36% of the iterations. This equates to decimal odds of around 2.75 for Germany Women’s to once again lift the trophy - this could mean odds of 2.65* overestimate the German’s chances in the Netherlands.

Odds subject to change

BR Home
See the latest Women's Euro 2017 odds
Having graduated with a degree in Chemistry, Mark embarked on a career with a major UK brewery. However, his love for sports and numbers was always at the back of his mind. He has been writing about the statistical side of sports, mainly soccer and NFL, for over 20 years and has a particular interest in the randomness and uncertainty inherent in the numbers.
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