REVIEW: Bayern break German duck in ESC finals

FOOTBALL – Pep Guardiola won his first ever trophy with Bayern München as German clubs broke their duck in ESC finals (now 1-for-8 in them). German clubs had lost on their previous seven attempts, including three by Bayern, which had them as the team with the worst track record of all coming into this match. Bayern became the fifth team to win ALL four major European trophies behind Juventus, Ajax, FC Barcelona and Chelsea.

TWITTER QUIZ: Friday, 30 August

FOOTBALL – Today’s question: QUIZ – In 1996/1997, which was the last Polish club to compete in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League?

Today’s answer: Widzew Lodz

Association quiz answer: Zbigniew Boniek. Born in Poland in 1956, he played for among others Widzew Lodz, Juventus and AS Roma.

Points earned in today’s quiz:

5 – @sportzeloot

4 – @G_o_s_h_a

– @BWFCWhiteside

2 – @Eric_Stok

– @jamesthegill

 

Weekly final standings:

29 – @sportzeloot (6 bonus points via association quiz)

27 – @G_o_s_h_a (6 bonus points via association quiz)

10 – @Eric_Stok (6 bonus points via association quiz)

– @imabhi2809

4 – @honken1

– @_onuryilmaz_

– @BWFCWhiteside

2 – @opialampsy8

2 – @S_Osmanagic

2 – @FiGo7Cr7

– @randrade9

– @jockmccruyff

– @carlosnabil

– @jamesthegill

 

ANALYSE THIS: ECI says D as in ‘Death’, E as in ‘Easy’

FOOTBALL – The Euro Club Index (www.euroclubindex.com) rates all teams in top flight football in Europe and today has proved an invaluable guide to assess the 2013/2014 Champions League group stage draw. It points out the Group of Death, the teams facing strongest/weakest opposition and also the teams that were most fortunate/unfortunate in the draw.  

The Euro Club Index has pointed towards Group D being the toughest group, the proverbial ‘Group of Death’, as its members boast an average ECI rating of 3331, whereas the teams in Group E bring up the rear with an average rating of 2933.

Average rating for each 2013/2014 Champions League group

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Celtic will face on average the strongest opponents. Their Group H foes FC Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax have an average Euro Club Index rating of 3480.

Highest average ECI rating of CL 2013/2014 group opponents

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Chelsea will face the softest opposition in this group stage according to the Euro Club Index. Their opponents, Schalke 04, FC Basel and Steaua Bucuresti, represent an average 2747 rating.

Lowest average ECI rating of CL 2013/2014 group opponents

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Steaua Bucuresti were percentage-wise the most fortunate team in this draw. The lowest average of rating points combined for their opponents could have been 2916. In fact, it is 3030. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain also enjoyed relatively favourable draws. 

Most favourable draw – percentage of easiest scenario possible

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The most unfavourable draw fell to CSKA Moskva. Their worst case scenario was facing opponents with a combined 3589 rating. As it turned out, their opponents average 3444 points. Champions Bayern München are second among the 32 teams.

Most unfavourable draw – percentage of hardest scenario possible

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TWITTER QUIZ: Thursday, 29 August

FOOTBALL – Today’s question: QUIZ – Which country won its only major trophy at the 1972 Olympic Games?

Today’s answer: Poland

Want to guess the association? Click this Link.

Points earned in today’s quiz:

5 – @G_o_s_h_a

4 – @sportzeloot

– @imabhi2809

2 – @Eric_Stok

– @carlosnabil

 

Weekly standings:

18 – @sportzeloot

17 – @G_o_s_h_a

– @imabhi2809

4 – @honken1

– @_onuryilmaz_

2 – @opialampsy8

2 – @S_Osmanagic

2 – @FiGo7Cr7

2 – @Eric_Stok

– @randrade9

– @jockmccruyff

– @carlosnabil

ANALYSE THIS: Who to avoid, who to want in CL draw

The Champions League group phase draw will take place later on Thursday. Infostrada Sports’ head of analysis @simongleave has looked at which teams should be avoided and which teams might be favourable in your club’s draw, using the Euro Club Index.

I have previously written about the luck of the draw and how this affected both Manchester City and Chelsea in particular last season. Both clubs went out at the Champions League group stage after being drawn in much tougher groups than would have been the case under a fairer system than the one currently employed to rank the clubs. 

UEFA’s coefficients system is relatively easy to understand, awarding points based on matches played in UEFA competitions. It does a pretty good job with most clubs given its simplicity but it is slow to respond to changing circumstances. Clubs who are on the way up are often misclassified due to lack of results in European competition and clubs on the way down can also end up in the wrong draw pots. Such declines can be masked in a system which only takes UEFA matches into account as the sample size of fixtures is too small. This is exacerbated by the fact that the UEFA system takes no account of the relative strengths of teams playing each other, whether they are playing home or away and treats results from five years ago the same as those from more recent times. The coefficients are decided purely on the basis of win, draw or loss with extra bonuses for reaching different stages of the competition.

Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund both suffered from this system last year as did Dutch club Ajax. With City in draw pot 3 and Borussia Dortmund in pot 4 despite their domestic championships in England and Germany, there was a potential catastrophe in waiting. That befell Dutch champions Ajax who ended up in Group D  with the champions of Spain, England and Germany. It was the only group with four champions.

This year, things have improved only slightly with Borussia Dortmund’s classification in the third group of seeds after their final appearance last year. Many have criticised Manchester City’s European performances but the system used for drawing the groups makes it very difficult for them as they can potentially be drawn against two other clubs from Europe’s best 10 as they were last year. Their failure then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy which never gets better as they cannot improve their coefficient enough due to the toughness of their opposition.

Critics of this argument use Borussia Dortmund’s performance last season as an example but the fact is that one of Dortmund and City probably had to miss out last season from a group which also contained Real Madrid. Having progressed, Borussia Dortmund didn’t face opposition of a similar standard to Real or Manchester City until they drew the Madrid club again in the semi-finals. Clearly, knocking Real Madrid out was a great achievement but Borussia Dortmund were unable to emerge victorious in two successive rounds against theoretically better opposition, losing in the final against last season’s Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

So, what about this season? Well, now that we know the 32 teams in the draw pots on Thursday, it is possible to assess which have been misclassified by using the Euro Club Index. The most obvious are again Borussia Dortmund (ranked 5) and Manchester City (7) with both in pot 3 this time. However, 11 other clubs have also been misclassified into pots other than the ones that the Euro Club Index puts them into so here is a guide to teams that are better avoided and the ones that are most favourable in each of this year’s draw pots: 

Pot 1

Avoid: FC Barcelona (Euro Club Index number 1), Real Madrid (2), Bayern Munich (3), Manchester United (4)
Want: Benfica (14), Arsenal (10), FC Porto (8), Chelsea (6) 

Pot 2
Avoid:
Atletico Madrid (9), Paris Saint-Germain (11), Juventus (12), Shakhtar Donetsk (16)
Want: Olympique Marseille (35), Schalke 04 (28), CSKA Moscow (21), AC Milan (17)

Pot 3
Avoid:
Borussia Dortmund (5), Manchester City (7), Bayer Leverkusen (18), Zenit St. Petersburg  (19)  
Want: FC Basel (42), Galatasaray (32), Olympiacos (30),Ajax (23)

Pot 4
Avoid: Napoli (24), Viktoria Plzen (25), Real Sociedad (26), Anderlecht (49)
Want: Austria Vienna (117), FC Copenhagen (111), Celtic (78), Steaua Bucharest (53) 

TWITTER QUIZ: Wednesday, 28 August

FOOTBALL – Today’s question: QUIZ – In which year was the first ever major European club trophy awarded, in this case to Real Madrid?

Today’s answer: 1956

Want to guess the association? Click this Link.

Points earned in today’s quiz:

5 – @G_o_s_h_a

4 – @sportzeloot

– @imabhi2809

2 – @FiGo7Cr7

– @jockmccruyff

 

Weekly standings:

14 – @sportzeloot

12 – @G_o_s_h_a

4 – @honken1

– @imabhi2809

– @_onuryilmaz_

2 – @opialampsy8

2 – @S_Osmanagic

2 – @FiGo7Cr7

– @randrade9

– @jockmccruyff

 

TWITTER QUIZ: Tuesday, 27 August

FOOTBALL – Today’s question: QUIZ – Which club was represented by one player, Bruno Conti, in Italy’s 1982 FIFA World Cup winning squad?

Today’s answer: AS Roma

Want to guess the association? Click this Link.

Points earned in today’s quiz:

5 – @sportzeloot

4 – @honken1

– @G_o_s_h_a

2 – @S_Osmanagic

– @imabhi2809

 

Weekly standings:

10 – @sportzeloot

7 – @G_o_s_h_a

4 – @honken1

– @_onuryilmaz_

2 – @opialampsy8

2 – @S_Osmanagic

– @randrade9

– @imabhi2809