Friday, February 28, 2020

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Round-of-16 Preview

This is the first time I have gotten to write two previews in the knockout round phase since I started blogging about Scotland's UEFA coefficient.

Against the odds, Rangers are the side that are through. Scotland has not quite, but almost, locked down 15th place, which will guarantee two Champions League places in 2021/22.

This range of teams is self-contained. By that, I mean, none of them can climb above 13th, and there are no teams below 19th place still active.

Round-of-32 Review

50 minutes into the return leg of their matchup with Copenhagen, Celtic was set to make the Round of 16. 84 minutes into it, they were set to compete in extra time. Then everything fell apart, and they lost in aggregate 4-2. At least they picked up 0.25 points for the coefficient before they went out.

Rangers, by contrast, had the opposite experience. They were down 2-0 with 66 minutes gone in the first leg, and ended up winning both legs of their tie with Braga. That's a full point for the coefficient and progression to the Round of 16.

Scotland ended up in 14th, as predicted, with about the number of points as predicted. In fact, 13th-18th were as expected, and Switzerland over-performed to take 19th instead of Croatia.

Round-of-16 Preview

Rangers drew Leverkeusen, probably the second-hardest draw after Manchester United. Still, Fivethirtyeight gives them a 21% chance of advancing. On average, they get one loss and one draw, which moves them ahead of Denmark if Copenhagen gets swept.

That's one way to assure that Scotland stays at 15th or above. Even if Rangers gets swept, they need Olympiakos and Basel both to go deep.

Dale Johnson of ESPN says that in order for Scotland to miss out, you'd need Olympiakos to reach the semi-final and Basel to reach the final. Those are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for Scotland to get bumped to 16th. Fivethirtyeight gives Olympiakos a 10% chance of making the semis, and Basel a 5% chance of making the final. The chance of both happening is about half a percent, so Scottish fans shouldn't be too worried.

Quarter-Final Sneak Peek

All I have to say here is that in the 21% of universes where Rangers makes the quarter final, I am supposed to be in Scotland during the return leg. (I guess there's about a 1 in 10 chance there will be a Rangers home match then.)

2020/21 Sneak Peek

Scotland is up to 12th for the starting of next year's race. All the nations here but Cyprus have teams remaining, so we could still be some small changes.

Here is how the race for the European places is going in the Premiership:

If a top 4 team wins the Cup (meaning the top 4 teams all go to Europe):

  1. Celtic 100%
  2. Rangers 100%
  3. Aberdeen 70%
  4. Motherwell 65%
  5. Livingston 32%
  6. Hibernian 32%
  7. Kilmarnock 2%
If a non-top 4 team wins the Cup (meaning the 4th place team misses out):
    1. Unnamed non-top 4 team 100%
    2. Celtic 100%
    3. Rangers 100%
    4. Aberdeen 45%
    5. Motherwell 31%
    6. Livingston 12%
    7. Hibernian 12%
    The big change from a few weeks ago is that Hibs are up, and Motherwell's down. Based on the relative resources, I think that's a good thing. Also, the Scottish Cup quarter-finals are set, so Kilmarnock, Livingston and Motherwell no longer have a path to Europe that way. However, Hearts, St. Johnstone, St. Mirren and Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle do. We'll see it narrowed down further over the weekend.

      Saturday, February 08, 2020

      Geocaching: January 2020

      I got into a weird habit of dividing my geocaching posts up by meteorological seasons. The last few seasons I found 17, 17, 9, 6, 10, 39, 37. This January, I found 47. So it seems time to move to months for a summary.

      Before getting to January 2020, I found two caches in the winter portion of December 2019 that I should acknowledge. On a stop on Skyline Drive, I found an earthcache, which gave me County 101 (Warren County, VA). On New Year's Eve, I found a cache to give me the Goodbye 2019 souvenir (64th souvenir).

      So, why 47 caches in January? Partially a desire to get more exercise, partially a well-timed trip to Colorado. 47 is of course, my busiest month.
      Get ready for many more stats I achieved in January.

      On January 1, I found a cache in Virginia, which gave me the Hello 2020 souvenir (65th souvenir), and the 3, 2, 1 go souvenir (it was the last day of a period in which I had to find 6 geocaches). It was also my first cache placed in March 2019 (Month 197).

      I had a busy weekend the first weekend of the year, which led to my best weekend yet, and second busiest day yet on Sunday.
      At the end of that Sunday, I had found some traditionals, some mysteries and a virtual when I saw a nearby, easy multicache. That's four types in one day.
      One of the caches I found that day was placed in May 2007 (Month 198), which finishes off all 2007 months for me.

      On my trip to Colorado, I decided to break my maximum distance in a day.
      The Colorado souvenir was my 67th.
      While staying in Denver, I found 10 of 13 counties in the North Central Colorado Urban Area. (I skipped the mountainous ones, since it was January.) Those were counties 102-111 for me.
      The week of the trip was my most in a week.
      My list of highest elevation caches looked substantially different, with only two caches from a 2007 cross-country drive remaining on the list, compared to the ones pre-trip.
      While I was out there, I also managed to add January 2010 (Month 199), September 2008 (Month 200), December 2018 (Month 201),  January 2020 (Month 202) and June 2011 (Month 203).

      Since Colorado is approximately the same latitude as Maryland and Virginia, I made some progress towards the North 39 Degrees Latitude Challenge, which requires me to find a cache in each minute of 39 Degrees North. After adding minutes 32, 33, 42, 44, 47, 49, 50, 58, I had 29 of the required minutes. (3 of the minutes were from a trip to California, where I may end up again this year.)

      On the trip, I added my 41st and 42nd difficulty/terrain combos.
      A very nice caching week, and not just statistically. There was also some very nice scenery. I wouldn't mind going back, and maybe hitting those mountain counties.

      Back in the East, I got my 22nd First-to-Find on the 24th (my birthday!).

      On the 26th, I knocked out a few more degrees. I picked up a cache in 38'43". I now have all the latitude minutes from 38'40" to 39'08". On the longitude side, I also got 77'06", 77'14", 77'16" and 77'38". I now have 45 of the 60 I need for the West 77 Degree Longitude Challenge. I now have all longitudes from 76'39" to 77'34".

      On that day of caching, I stopped for a bite to eat. I went to see if any caches were nearby, and one was. After finding it, I discovered it gave me December 2009 (Month 204) and my 43rd D/T combo.

      On the 28th, I picked up my 23rd FTF.
      Then, on the 30th, I found a May 2019 cache (Month 205).

      I am writing this in early February, so the stats below include a few caches I found this month, but no new months placed, I believe.

      I see four distinct groups of missing months. There are the "ancient caches" -- from 2000 or 2001 (8 missing months). Those are often ones people need to plan trips in order to get, as there are only a few from certain months.

      Then there are the "old caches" -- from 2002 to 2005 (11 missing months). These are rare, but not spectacularly so.

      Next we have the "middle-aged caches" -- 2008 to 2013 (10 missing months). Because they are not of historical value, they are less likely to be preserved, but often they will pop up at random.

      Finally, we have the "young caches" -- 2018 to present (3 missing months). They are not hard to find, but they are easy to miss as new months keep popping up on the calendar. (I am not counting February 2020, since this is a January post.)

      Saturday, February 01, 2020

      Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Knockout Round Preview

      This year both halves of the Old Firm made it through to the Round of 32 in the Europa League! There are important consequences, detailed below!

      I tell you, it's a long wait between the draw (December 16th) and the first games (February 20th). Now is as good of a time to do this post as any, though.

      The most points a team can earn in the Europa League knockout stage is 21, while the most two teams can earn together is 40. This knowledge was used to expand the table excerpt I usually give to go all the way down to Sweden (who can earn 21/4=5.25 for the coefficient and catch Scotland) and up to Ukraine (who can be caught by Scotland adding 40/4=10).

      Group-Stage Review

      Celtic went 4-1-1. That's 9 points, giving 2.25 for the coefficient. Really good! The one loss was after they clinched advancement, and is the type of disappointing result I've come to expect (if not excuse) in European competition.

      Rangers went 2-1-3. (I'm writing it where the "3" is the number of draws.) That's 7 points, giving 1.75 for the coefficient.

      I expected around 3 points, so 4 points (with both clubs advancing) is fantastic. I also projected Scotland in 17th place, and they are in 16th. I said Scotland was unlikely to make it into 15th place (and two Champions League places in 2021/22). With a Celtic draw in their last game, that's where they would be! So the race for 15th place continues!

      Playoff-Round Preview

      Fivethirtyeight gives Celtic a 65% chance of advancing, with an average of 2.39 points, providing about 0.6 for the coefficient. Keep in mind that the only number of points they can actually get is whole numbers 0 through 4. 0 and 1 mean they don't advance, 3 and 4 mean they do, and 2 means extra time or the away goals rule comes into play.

      Rangers has a 50% chance of advancing, with an average of 2.00 points (which makes sense), giving 0.5 for the coefficient.

      Here is what 13-21 will look like, on average, after the round of 32.
      • 13. Denmark 27.902
      • 14. Scotland 27.722
      • 15. Czechia 27.3
      • 16. Cyprus 27.185
      • 17. Greece 26.106
      • 18. Serbia 25.5
      • 19. Croatia 24.876
      • 20. Switzerland 24.852
      • 21. Sweden 23.135
      But these results are very swingy. For example, if Celtic sweeps Copenhagen, Scotland is guaranteed to move above Denmark. That's true for too many scenarios to list (e.g., Celtic gets 2 points against Copenhagen, and Rangers sweeps Braga), also many in the opposite direction.

      So 15th place is in reach after all, and even 13th is not out of the question.

      2020/21 Sneak Peak

       Remember, this affects the 2022/23 leagues (the second year of the new format).

      Scotland is already in 14th place, and the likely positions after the Round of 32 are:
      • 13. Scotland 24.722
      • 14. Cyprus 24.185
      • 15. Ukraine 24.024
      • 16. Denmark 22.402
      That would put Scotland in a pretty nice position going into next season, but an up season by Denmark and a down season by Scotland could very easily lock Scotland out of the 15 spot.

      So much to cover over the next year, before Scotland gets comfortably ensconced in the 5-team range. (If things go well next year, they may lock it in for several years.)

      Also, with Scottish Cup round-of-16 action getting underway next weekend, let's look at clubs' chances of making Europe, again via Fivethirtyeight.

      If a top 4 team wins the Cup (meaning the top 4 teams all go to Europe):
      1. Celtic 100%
      2. Rangers 100%
      3. Motherwell 86%
      4. Aberdeen 78%
      5. Livingston 24%
      6. Hibernian 10%
      7. Kilmarnock 1%
      If a non-top 4 team wins the Cup (meaning the 4th place team misses out):
      1. Unnamed non-top 4 team 100%
      2. Celtic 100%
      3. Rangers 100%
      4. Motherwell 46%
      5. Aberdeen 45%
      6. Livingston 6%
      7. Hibernian 2%
      I am on record as saying that Scotland is better off when four of the "Big Five" (Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs) are in Europe. That frequently doesn't happen, so I've learned to settle for three. Hopefully, Aberdeen joins Celtic and Rangers, or Hearts or Hibs get in via a Cup-set (get it?) All of the teams listed above are still alive in the Cup (as, in fact, are all Premiership sides except St. Mirren).