by Thomas Negron
The first round of matches at this summer’s European Championships have come and gone. While many of the tournament’s early headlines are focused on issues off the pitch, plenty has happened on it. These highlights included France winning on a late winner in the opening match, Wales securing a win in their first ever game at the Euros, and Italy beating Belgium in the showdown match of the “Group of Death.” Each game provides new information and leads to a change in a team’s Elo rating, and, thus, a change in the overall group landscape. Therefore we have updated our model and will provide a quick look at the winners and losers of this round.
Winners: Wales, Hungary, and Croatia
With the format of the Euros this summer, 3 points could potentially see a team go through to the Round of 16, so any team that won this past round should be considered a big winner, as they have put themselves in a great position to go through. Wales has gone from being outsiders to even finish third in their group to having a very solid chance of advancing, as they approach an important match against England on Thursday. Hungary has actually surpassed Portugal as the most likely team to advance out of Group F, thanks to being the only team on three points so far in the group. Croatia picked up a big win against Turkey that has made a Round of 16 appearance likely and should put them into the discussion as teams who can make it to the semifinals, or even further.
Losers: Austria, Belgium, and Ukraine
Before the tournament began, many people were pointing to Austria as a team that was underrated and could make a bit of a run in the tournament. Well, they opened the tournament with a tough 2-0 loss to Hungary, and, even though Elo ratings are not as reactionary as more traditional power rankings, this prediction model is down on Austria’s chances to even make it out of the group stage. Belgium’s loss to Italy has almost cut their chances of winning the tournament in half, putting them behind Italy and Portugal in terms of championship favorites. Finally, before the tournament I suggested the Ukraine as a potential dark horse in this tournament, and while they looked good at times against Germany, ultimately losing by two goals has hurt their chances of advancing deep in the tournament.
There is plenty to play for in this second matchday of the group stage. England will be playing Wales in what most would consider a must-win if England hope to advance deep in the tournament. Belgium will be looking to getting back to their winning ways, as the team hopes to avoid building to its reputation of being a promising, but slightly underachieving, team, as they face off against Ireland. While the favorites are hoping to avoid any surprises, the smaller nations will be looking to prove that the expansion to 24 teams has not come at the expense of entertainment or quality.