Winning First: Women’s World Cup Football

Last week, I wrote about winning first in cricket (link). That post was informed by a generic interest in winning first in tournament play.

I did follow closely, the 2019 Women’s Football World Cup and have a Google Sheet of the tournament (link). One of my interests was how the Elo rated teams performed. My estimates for 2019 were informed by two priors from the 2015 tournament hosted in Canada (link). In 2015, in the Group Games, 86% of the games were not lost by the higher Elo rated scoring first (31 games out of 36). In the Knockout Phase, in 82% of games the higher Elo rated team that scored first did not lose (13 games out of 16).

Scoring first in tournament play is, I think, very important and has direct relevance about how teams prepare for the first game. There is only one home team and in 2019 it was France (link).

In the first round in France, 10 of the 12 games were won by the higher Elo rated teams. The two exceptions were: Australia v Italy; Japan v Argentina. Australia lost to Italy 1v2 and Japan drew with Argentina 0v0. At that time, Australia was rated 9 Elo ratings above Italy and Japan 30 above Argentina. I believe both results had profound implications for Australia and Japan. In Australia’s case, Australia scored first and lost.

In the remaining Group Games, 11 out of 12 games were won by the higher Elo rated team (the exception was Nigeria v Korea Republic) in the second round of games. The third round of games was much more volatile. 7 of the 12 games were won by higher Elo rated teams. These games saw teams looking to qualify for the knockout stages. In these games: Spain drew with China PR; Scotland drew with Argentina; Canada lost to the Netherlands; New Zealand lost to the Cameroon; and Thailand lost to Chile.

In total, 81% of Group Games in 2019 were not lost by the higher Elo rated team (the figure in 2015 was 86%). The percentages by Group Games were: Round 1, 83%; Round 2, 92%; Round 3, 58%.

Type A game winning performances in football

One of my particular interests in monitoring European football leagues (link), is the identification of dominant game winning performances.

Liverpool demonstrated what I term Type A behaviour in their opening English Premier League performance against Norwich (link).

My data are:

Goal Scorers

Time of Goals

The scoring of two goals in 19 minutes meant for me that the probability of Liverpool not losing at that point was in the order of 0.992. In the preceding EPL season only three teams in 380 games had given up a 2v0 lead and lost. When the third goal went in after 28 minutes, I had no example of a team losing 0v3 and winning.

I am delighted that the first game of the 2019-2020 season has given me a benchmark, Type A example to consider. I do note that it was a Liverpool home game against a promoted team.

Exactly the fertile ground for Type A expression if a team is serious about its title credentials.

Photo Credit

Liverpool v Norwich (Twitter)

Some Priors for the 2019-2020 Football Seasons in Europe

The 2019-2020 football seasons in Europe have started with Liverpool’s 4v1 win over Norwich in the English Premier League (link).

Last year, I looked at the scoring patterns in six European football leagues (English Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A, Eredivise and Primera). In total, I monitored 1875 games. These provide the basis for the priors leading into the 2019-2020 seasons.

Scoring First and Winning

Scored First and Did Not Lose

It will be interesting to see how the posteriors respond in 2019-2020. The Scored First and Did Not Lose Prior looks particularly robust. This prior is based upon a one goal lead. Even this indicator seems very stable. In only 9 of the 1875 games did the team that scored twice and led 2v0 lose (3 EPL, 1 Ligue 1, 1 Bundesliga, 3 Serie A, 1 Eredivisie, 0 Primera).

When Liverpool went 2v0 ahead against Norwich in the first game of the EPL season after 19 minutes (link), the probability of Norwich winning was in my estimate 0.005 in Europe and 0.008 in the EPL. Liverpool went ahead 3v0 in the 28th minute and at that stage no team in the previous season had come back to win from 0v3.