Saturday, September 07, 2019

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Group Stage Preview

We have group stage! For two clubs!
Just like last year!

I included Greece and Cyprus in this, not because they are in Scotland's "neighborhood", but because under the new 2021/22 system, 15th place is what is needed to get 2 clubs in the Champions League and the other clubs in the Europa League (instead of the new "Europa League 2"). That's pretty much out of reach. I guess it matters if they get to 17th to see if the Premiership champions enter in the first or second round of the Champions League, but that seems small potatoes.

Playoff-Round Review

Celtic won the home leg 2-0 before dominating AIK in the away leg 4-1 for a convincing 0.5 points for the coefficient.

Rangers had a scoreless draw away, and was heading into extra time with the same scoreline until they pulled out a 1-0 win over Legia Warsaw. 0.375 for the coefficient.

Scotland stays in 19th place, but more importantly has two clubs alive.

Group-Stage Preview

Celtic (Elo 1595) got drawn with Lazio (Elo 1672), Rennes (Elo 1641) and Cluj (Elo 1574). Remember, Cluj knocked them out of the Champions League.

Rangers (Elo 1542) ended up in a group with Porto (Elo 1809), Young Boys (Elo 1669) and Feyenoord (Elo 1587).

Here we switch to the Fivethirtyeight ratings, because they give match-by-match predictions for the group stages. For reference, the ratings are:
  • Celtic 66.1
  • Lazio 69.9
  • Rennes 60.9
  • Cluj 45.3
  • Rangers 61.6
  • Porto 78.4
  • Young Boys 72.0
  • Feyenoord 57.8

So clearly the Fivethirtyeight model likes the Scottish clubs more than Clubelo does.

In fact, they give Celtic a 66% chance of making it out of the group stage, and Rangers a 35% shot.

What we can do, though is translate the match-by-match win/draw probabilities into an expected number of points for Scotland's coefficient. The expected number of wins is about 4.6, with about 2.9 draws, giving roughly 3 more points for the coefficient, bringing it up to 7.5. That is usually a top 10 coefficient, which would demonstrate that Scotland is truly on its way back.

In fact, we can do something similar for all the nations in the 15-22 range to project the post-group stage standings. (No countries are expected to drop into or out of this range. The projections are:
  • 15. Cyprus 26.67
  • 16. Greece 26.1
  • 17. Scotland 25.62
  • 18. Serbia 25.33
  • 19. Croatia 24.98
  • 20. Switzerland 24.05
  • 21. Norway 22.33
  • 22. Sweden 22.17

2020/21 Sneak Peak

Since Scotland is unlikely to move into 15th place this year, let's look at the race as it is likely to stand next year (which, I remind you, affects the 2022/23 leagues.)

Scotland starts barely below 15th. If we go a step further and add the expected points from the group stage, we see:
  • 14. Scotland 22.62
  • 15. Denmark 22.03
  • 16. Serbia 21.13
  • 17. Greece 20.7
  • 18. Croatia 20.48
  • 19. Czechia 20.17
(I skipped Ukraine because they will probably pick up a bunch of points in the group stage.)

So over five years ago, I started wondering about the then-Celtic manager's complaint that, "It is stupid the Scottish coefficient is not regarded as good enough." And next year, the Scottish clubs should be perfectly placed to do something about take effect in 2022.

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