Saturday, December 16, 2017

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: Knockout-Round Preview

Good news for Scotland: there's a knockout round to preview this year! Bad news for Scotland: Celtic got there with the minimum number of possible points.

Bad news: they've fallen to 27th! Good news: can't fall more than one more spot!

Group Stage Review

I gave a series of analyses in my group stage preview. Let's see how I did.
  • Romania: "expect them to widen then 1.05 gap with Scotland." It's now 1.925, so yes.
  • Azerbaijan: "They could well be shut out of further points." They were!
  • Scotland: "one could dream of picking up 1.25 more in the group." Dream denied! They picked up 0.5 with a win over Anderlecht. One-goal losses to Anderlecht and Bayern indicate more points were not out of the question.
  • Belarus: "BATE Borisov...only have a 14% chance of advancing, but they should pick up enough keep Belarus close to or ahead of Scotland." They did not, in fact, advance, but picked up a full point.
  • Sweden: "Scotland's lead of 0.15 is more likely than not to hold up." Wrong! Two points, and into the knockout round.
  • Bulgaria: "The 0.25 lead Scotland has over Bulgaria could evaporate quickly." It did!
  • Norway: " I think the 1.2 point gap is safe." It was, but shrunk to 0.7.
  • Kazakhstan: "At 1.5, the gap is probably even safer [than with Norway]." Maybe not safer, but it held up.
I'll note that Serbia has unexpectedly pulled ahead (more on that later), which just goes to show how important it is for a nation to field two teams which can be competitive in Europe, rather than just one.

Round of 32 Preview

I'll hopefully title this as a preview for just the next round, since Scotland could be competing beyond that. In fact, Fivethirtyeight basically gives them a 1-in-3 chance of advancing past Zenit St. Petersburg, while Clubelo gives them a 1-in-4 chance.

Probably the best-case scenario is advancing with 0.5 points for the coefficient (1.0 is possible, but Scottish clubs seem only to advance by the skin of their teeth). The expect scenario is drawing one of the games to get 0.25, and the worst-case is flaming out with 0.0.

Where We Stand

They're 27th now. Blech. Unless a miracle happens, all the Scottish clubs get a first-round entry in 2019.

Any nation can get at most 1 point from this round, so Scotland could theoretically end up tied for 24th or as low at 28th. All of the clubs left representing nations in the 20s are underdogs, but expect the two Serbian clubs to do a little bit better (combined) than Celtic, so I would bet on staying at 27th. But, y'know, if Celtic wins all remaining matches, they end up 18th. (Spoiler: they won't.)

Note that Celtic have already equaled their point total from last year, so if Scotland stays in 27th place, blame other clubs. (They'd be in 25th with an equal contribution from the non-Celtics.)

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