England came into Euro 2020 with a wealth of attacking talent. These players include:
- Harry Kane, 23 goals for Tottenham this past season
- Raheem Sterling, who has averaged over 16 goals the past 4 seasons with Manchester City
- Jadon Sancho, a player Manchester United recently emptied an armored truck to obtain
However, this wealth of attacking talent is not consistent with my numbers. Let me explain.
For world soccer, I take matches since the beginning of 2016 and adjust for schedule with my ranking algorithm. These rankings for the offense and defense of each nation let me make predictions for matches.
For England, my numbers like their defense (4th in the world) compared to their offense (12th). The results in Euro (4 goals scored, 0 goals allowed in 4 matches) support that England has a better defense.
To understand this discrepancy between talent and results, I talked with Mike Goodman, Senior Soccer Editor at CBS, on the podcast this week. He explained that England plays a conservative style that keeps their midfielders focused on defense. In addition, Sancho has played 7 minutes in this tournament.
England keeps players back and hopes for the best with their offensive talent. This conservative strategy is like if Scarlett Johannson showed up at the Black Widow premier in baggy sweats. Not exactly putting yourself out there.
Against Ukraine, my numbers give a 64% chance of fewer than 2.5 goals. Ukraine is neither strong on offense or defense, and my model predicts 0.63 goals for them, the biggest factor in the high probability for the under.
On DraftKings, you can find a price of -127 (56% break even probability) for under 2.5 goals in England vs Ukraine.
England doesn’t play a beautiful game like Spain and Italy, nations with the skill to string together multiple passes in finding scoring opportunities. Instead, England is more likely to kick the ball over the top and use their athleticism to create opportunities.
If you take England’s style to the extreme, they are like Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak dominates the NBA with his athleticism. However, he often lacks skill, as he has missed the rim on multiple free throws during the playoffs.
No matter how they play, two factors favor England:
- They can not play other favorites Belgium, Italy and Spain until the final.
- The semi-final and final in London will give them home field advantage.
While there is no guarantee, England is the favorite to win the European Championship.
Data driven betting information
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