Friday, 8 June 2012

Host Opening Games

In twenty-seven World Cup and 'Euro' tournaments (at least since the Euros moved to an eight team finals format in 1980), only three host nations have ever lost their opening matches.

That would be the most recent three in the Euros.

In 2008, Switzerland lost 0-1 to Czech Republic, and Austria lost by the same score against Croatia. In 2004, Portugal lost their opening game to Greece, but prior to this, host nations, if not winning too often, never lost.

Prior to 1966, when football really began, the host nation won every opening match, but since that glorious summer, only ten have won.

Most host nations' opening matches in the Euros are low scoring affairs, with none of the ten being decided by more than one goal. From a small sample, four matches ended 1-0, four finished as draws (three 1-1, one 0-0), and two finished 2-1. The host nations' record is perfectly symmetrical, with two 1-0 wins and a 2-1 win, and a 1-2 loss and two 0-1 losses to go with the four draws. There is one other similar match from the 1990 World Cup which can probably also be included in this small set, and on that occasion, Italy beat Austria 1-0.

All the evidence points to a low scoring match when Poland host Greece, and Ukraine play Sweden, except that quite coincidentally the two countries involved in the two over 2.5 games were Greece and Sweden! 

Which piece of history will repeat itself?

While these kinds of stats, with their small sample size and lengthy time-spans between tournaments, may appear to be of academic interest only, but certain things stand out. The draw occurs more frequently than expected - in the 23 host nation opening matches since 1966, ten have been drawn - three 0-0 (but only one since 1970), six 1-1 and a 2-2 draw in Japan, and just 7 of the 23 have been Over 2.5 goals. Unfortunately, evens is not available on the Poland v Greece game today. At 1.48 / 1.49, the Under 2.5 goals is priced as you might expect, and with millions of people looking at stats leading up to this match, that's no surprise. I am well aware that I have no edge.

Which means fun bets only. 

1 comment:

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