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.

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