Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Euro 2012: How deadly is the group of death?

Much (well, some) has been made of the Euro 2012 draw last Friday, where thanks in part to co-hosts Poland and Ukraine being the top two seeds a rather nasty looking 'group of death' formed. Group B sees the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Denmark pitted against one another, with certainly three of the four capable of winning the tournament. But how deadly are we talking?

It gets interesting if you compare the latest UEFA rankings with the latest FIFA ones which are very similar (about 95% correlation) but not identical. Highlights include Portugal, who are ranked 11th by UEFA, but are the 5th best European team according to FIFA The table below summarises the Euro 2012 groups with each team's UEFA and FIFA ranking (where I've filtered out all the non-UEFA teams). (Click for a full-resolution version.)

Based on FIFA rankings, group B is indeed the deadliest, with an average country ranking of 4.5 (and, interestingly, every team a higher rank than any in group A). According to UEFA, however, it's not group B but group C - home to the Republic of Ireland - which is the hardest, although there is very little to choose between the two.