It feels like it’s been a long two months without European football. With the Spanish, English and German title competitions looking pretty much wrapped up at the moment and a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations, it’s exciting to welcome back the Champions league and Europa league. So after the first round of of first legs for the Champions league and the first legs of the Europa league we wanted to see how things stood.
The most meaningful way to look at how things have been changed by the first leg is to look at the relative percentage change in probability of qualifying for the next round.
Celtic originally had a 24% chance of progression but after a 3-0 dubbing by Juventus their probability has gone down to 0.4%. Manchester United’s away goal really does appear to have helped their chances, increasing their relative chance of progression by almost 50%. But as their original progression chance was 27% and their new chance 40%, everything seems still to play for in the second leg. PSG’s win at Valencia has also increased their relative chance of progression just under 50%, but they previously had a 60% chance of progression and now have a 89% chance.
For all the excitement promised by the Champions league only the Man United/Real Madrid fixture looks genuinely up for grabs at the moment.
But what about the Champions league little brother? The picture is more mixed for English teams in the Europa League. Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Spata Praha has them almost guaranteed to make it through to the quarter-finals, with a 9% chance of an upset. This is partly because we originally thought they had an 82% chance of qualification and the lead and home advantage should be able to help them secure a quarter-final against either Ajax or Steau Bucharest. Chelsea are very much the team to beat with a 24% chance of winning the Europa league at the moment.
For all Brendan Rodger’s claims to the contrary, Liverpool are on the verge of being dumped out of the Europa league. Before the first leg they had a 56% chance of progression, now they have a 14% chance. Newcastle may have felt hard done by in the 0-0 draw against Metalist Kharkiv but their progression chances have slightly improved from 31% to 38%.
The best improvement on our predictions among the Premier league clubs was from Spurs. As we discussed in a previous blog, Spurs was given one of the more challenging draws as Lyon is of almost equal strength. The 2-1 win at White Hart lane has boosted their progression chances from 53% to 65%, but this tie remains difficult to predict.
The overall picture for the competition has a distinctly Eastern-European flavour as shown on the graph below.
Dependent on how seriously Chelsea takes the Europa league this could be a surprising year.