Prediction: Final Standings of Bundesliga 2013/2014

The fun part of analysis, at least to me, is to make predictions. Since the new season starts next week, I'll try to predict the final standings at the end of the season with my algorithm.

Most predictions algorithms out there are evaluating the teams' playing strength based on the performance in the previous seasons. As the team is the atomic structure in these, they can't take easily new transfers into account. Goalimpact is evaluating players and thus can, in principle, take team changes due to transfers into account. However, it causes other headaches. Most teams have 22 or more players to choose from, but some, often even many, of them will only get few minutes playing time in a season. A team's playing strength is mainly based on subset of the players, maybe 15 or 16 players.

If I'm going to predict team results without knowing the XI that actual plays, I have to guess the players that will be part of the game. In this case I even need to guess the players that will mostly influence a team over the whole season. This can get very subjective quickly. My usual way around this issue is to use minute weighed average values from past games. This works quite well during a season, but I can't calculate this before the season even started. All newly bought players obviously didn't get any playing time yet and thus would get a weight of zero. My prediction would be based on a distorted estimate of the team composition.

An alternative approach, I considered, was to use the starting eleven predicted by LigaInsider. They provide quite accurate predictions for each match day in Bundesliga. The predicted starting XI for Werder Bremen is for example.


However, this has some other disadvantages. The estimate is for the next match day only. It may or may not be a good prediction for the main XI of the entire season. The main XI will be vague to some extend that early in a season in any case. Probably even the trainer will not now for sure which players will get how much playing time over the season. They are likely to have a rough idea and the have their core of six to eight players fix, but too many things are not projectable. So even though LigaInsider is doing a great job, they can't possibly be correct, independently of which XI they pick. Actually they don't even try this. As they pick the likely players for the next match only, some players are excluded because they suffer from a minor illness. Maybe a prediction for the XI of the season would still include them.

To get around the need to pick players, in the following prediction, I just use the average of all players that have been nominated for the first team as of now. Doing so, will cause a downward bias in the estimates of the team's Goalimpacts. This stems from the fact that the players actually playing in most cases are the players with higher Goalimpacts. The hope would be that the bias is about equal for all teams, but this is not the case. Some teams have a strong core team, but less strong players otherwise. Some teams, in contrast, have rather evenly distributed Goalimpacts over all 22 players. So, unfortunately, I'll have a bias due to this averaging, but I think it is still the best way to avoid introducing arbitrary selections of players. And, I admit, It has the charm of being easily done.

So this is the table with the predicted final standings for Bundesliga this season.

No. Team
Goalimpact
Points
Goal Diff
Bwin Rank
ClubElo
Euro Club
Index
Last Year
1 Bayern München 139,8 84,7 +64,8
1
1
1
1
2 Borussia Dortmund 119,8 60,2 +23,1
2
2
2
2
3 FC Schalke 04 119,0 59,2 +21,3
3
4
4
4
4 Bayer Leverkusen 113,8 52,9 +10,6
4
3
3
3
5 VfL Wolfsburg 112,3 50,9 +7,3
5
7
8
11
6 VfB Stuttgart 107,5 45,0 -2,8
6
13
7
12
7 Hannover 96 106,1 43,4 -5,6
10
8
6
9
8 1. FSV Mainz 05 105,7 42,9 -6,4
13
11
11
13
9 Bor. Mönchengladbach 105,6 42,7 -6,7
6
6
5
8
10 Hertha BSC 105,4 42,5 -7,1
12
14
13
(17)
11 1899 Hoffenheim 105,3 42,4 -7,3
13
16
16
16
12 Eintracht Braunschweig 105,0 42,0 -7,9
18
18
18
(18)
13 SC Freiburg 104,6 41,5 -8,8
13
5
9
5
14 Hamburger SV 103,6 40,3 -10,8
8
10
10
7
15 1. FC Nürnberg 103,5 40,2 -11,0
16
9
12
10
16 Werder Bremen 101,2 37,4 -15,8
11
17
15
14
17 Eintracht Frankfurt 100,7 36,8 -16,8
9
12
14
6
18 FC Augsburg 99,2 35,0 -19,9
17
15
17
15

As comparison, I added the estimated rank implied in the Bwin odds and the current rank according to ClubElo and the Euro Club Index. The first four teams are identical in all predictions. This doesn't come as a surprise as they are identical to the first four of the last season. The only deviation here is that Bwin and Goalimpact put Schalke above Leverkusen while ClubElo and the Euro Club Index kept the order of last season. But opinions diverge a lot on many of the other league ranks.

Goalimpact predicts Wolfsburg to finish 5th and Stuttgart 6th. Interestingly, this is identical to the predictions by Bwin although both teams where nowhere close to such a good rank in the previous season. The Euro Club Index has a similar rank for both. But it sees Hanover and Mönchengladbach stronger and thus the two are on 7 and 8. ClubElo share the view of a strong Wolfsburg, albeit on rank 7, but predicts Stuttgart to finish even below last year's disappointing rank 12.

All three statistic measures see Hanover finishing slightly higher than previous year on tank 6 to 8, but bwin puts them a rank lower on 10. Similarly all statistic based predictions see Mainz heading to a better season than last year's rank 13. Goalimpact is the most optimistic with rank 8, the other put Mainz on 11. Bwin sees no improvement to last year.

The prediction of newly relegated teams is particularly difficult, because they played few games, if any, against the other teams last season. The difference between the leagues is significant and many new teams face relegation just the next season again. This is, in fact, the prediction for Eintracht Braunschweig. ClubElo, the Euro Club Index, and Bwin see them as clear number 18. If you look at score values and odds, they are predicted to be the last by quite a margin. Goalimpact is more optimistic here and ranks them on 12. There first eleven is not outstanding here either, but the other players are not much worse than the team's stars. It might be that Goalimpact is biased upwards here. The other fresh relegated team, Hertha BSC Berlin, is predicted to be save in the middle of the table by all sources. They should end up between rank 10 (GI) and 14 (ClubElo).

Looking at the lower end of the table, Goalimpact predicts Bremen, Frankfurt and Augsburg as relegated teams. Especially, Frankfurt is disputed by the other approaches. They all predict a lower rank the last year's rank 6, too, but they see Frankfurt to end in the nowhere land between rank 9 and 14. Bremen is as a relegation candidate by the club-based algorithms, too. Bwin is here much more optimistic and predicts rank 11. Augsburg is a likely relegation team by all rankings. ClubElo is the last spark of hope by predicting Augsburg to repeat last year's rank 15. 1899 Hoffenheim is predicted to be relegated by both of the club-based approaches. Goalimpact and Bwin, in contrast, both predict a final rank in the middle of the table (11-13).

We will only know with hindsight which prediction was closed to reality. However, we can have short look into the predictions now already by looking into the correlations.

Goalimpact
Bwin Rank
ClubElo
Euro Club
Index
Last Year
Goalimpact
100%
78%
69%
83%
50%
Bwin Rank
100%
75%
87%
75%
ClubElo
100%
92%
91%
Euro Club Index
100%
82%
Last Year
100%

We can see that the two club-based measures are very highly correlated (92%) and also show comparably high correlations to the last year's ranks (91% and 82%). The lower the correlation is to the last years final rank, the braver (but not necessarily better) is the prediction. ClubElo's 91% makes it close to the naive estimation that everything stays as it was. Bwin (75%) and Goalimpact (50%) were bolder in moving away from last year's standings. If that was too bold, we will now in one year from now.

VfB Stuttgart vs. SC Freiburg: DFB-Pokal Preview

Just a short glimpse on the two likely staring 11s for tomorrow's DBP-Pokal semifinal between VfB Stuttgart and SC Freiburg.

VfB Stuttgart


Bench: Cacau (115.4), Tim Hoogland (115.2), Shinji Okazaki (110.5), Federico Macheda (110.3), Tamas Hajnal (108.2), Felipe (101.6), William Kvist (131.9)

Injured: Daniel Didavi (95.7), Tunay Torun (100.3)

It is still unclear if Serdar Tasci (116.9) can play as he is injured and may not recover in time. Cacau (115.4) just returned from injury and may lack training.

Stuttgart's weakness is clearly the midfield. Especially Maxim and Traore are not particularly high scored. For a Bundesliga player I see 100 as lower limit. I'm not sure why the team decided to have many decent central forwards with Goalimpacts between 110 and 115, but no as good central midfielder. Accordingly, only Fürth and Augsburg scored less goals then Stuttgart. Maybe they should consider letting Tamas Hajnal (108.2) play instead of Maxim.

William Kvist (131.9) is also an interesting player. According to his Goalimpact he is the best in the team, however he earned bad critics lately and didn't play lately in the starting 11.

SC Freiburg



Bench: Christian Günter (117.5), Johannes Flum (97.0), Cedric Makiadi (95.5), Marco Terrazzino (95.4), Vegar Hedenstad (94.9), Karim Guede (90.3), Ivan Santini (90.1)

Injured: Sebastian Freis (108.2)

Freiburg's bench is clearly sub par. Only the young Christian Günter (117.5) would be an improvement. But he only recently joined the A team, so it is unclear if Freiburg's trainer Streich will risk to let him play in the cup as Sorg isn't really bad either.

The overall Goalimpact of the players isn't that high and it is really astonishing that they currently on the fifth rank of the Bundesliga. Clearly that is the achievement of Christian Streich.

Odds

It is seldom that odds and Goalimpact deviate that much. Goalimpact, as you can see from the player scores, is skeptical about Freiburg and considers their performance this year partly luck driven. It may be mistaken here and the sudden increase of performance is not due to luck, but the tactical concept of the team.

Goalimpact Betfair
Stuttgart 57,4% 39,7%
x 18,7% 28,5%
Freiburg 23,9% 31,8%

Update

Because Serdar Tasci (116.9) is indeed injured Antonio Rüdiger (95.4) plays tonight. The odds change to.

Goalimpact Betfair
Stuttgart 56,1% 40,0%
x 19,0% 28,0%
Freiburg 24,9% 32,0%


Europa League 2nd Round Recap

The 2nd Round of the Europa League is finished. Here are the results compared with the difference of the GoalImpact of the respective teams. The scores are taken from the top list of all teams as of 1st of February 2012. They thus don't reflect actual line-ups and may not reflect winter transfers. The teams that advanced to the next round are marked green.

Viktoria Plzen111:111SSC Napoli
Olympiacos111:104Levante UD
Chelsea128:107Sparta Praha
Steaua101:119AFC Ajax
Benfica117:118Bay. Leverkusen
Hannover 96107:112Anzhi
Bordeaux 108:118 Dynamo Kyiv
Fenerbahce 117:104 BATE Borisov
Liverpool 119:122 Zenit S-Pb
CFR Cluj
101:115
Inter
Metalist
112:106
Newcastle
KRC Genk
101:109
VfB Stuttgart
Lyon 110:115 Spurs
Lazio
110:110
Bor. M'gladbach
Dnipro 112:111 FC Basel
Rubin Kazan
111:114
Atlético Madrid

The advancing team have an average of 1.43 higher GoalImpact than their opponents. Thus the score marginally predicted the results, however, chance being a big contributor. Judged by GoalImpact, the biggest surprise was the victory of Steaua over Ajax as the latter had a 18 points higher score. Less of a surprise was the defeat of Atletico Madrid by Rubin Kazan. Atletico had only 3 points more and unlike to the betting markets was not seen as a favorite for the overall victory at all.

The remaining big favorite now is Chelsea. They have the highest score and the weakest opponent in the next round. Other candidates for the overall victory, in agreement to the betting markets, are Zenit, Benfica and the Spurs. In deviation of the betting markets, Fenerbahce seems to be strong enough for the victory, too. However, they have in Plzen a strong opponent in the round of last 16.

VfB Stuttgart - Kader und Transfers

Der VfB Stuttgart gehört zu den Mannschaften, die auch die Winterpause zu einigen Transfers genutzt hat. Größten Handlungsbedarf gibt nach GoalImpact im Mittelfeld, zumal mit Zdravko Kuzmanovic einer der vier guten Mittelfeldspieler den Verein Richtung Inter Mailand verlassen hat.

Name GoalImpact Alter Position Spiele Minuten
Sven Ulreich 112,78 24,5 Torwart 201 18.645
Maza 123,06 31,3 Verteidiger 329 28.051
Serdar Tasci 118,36 25,8 Verteidiger 257 22.786
Arthur Boka 115,61 29,8 Verteidiger 255 20.045
Tim Hoogland 115,24 27,6 Verteidiger 128 10.439
Cristian Molinaro 111,66 29,5 Verteidiger 234 19.389
Georg Niedermeier * 108,58 26,9 Verteidiger 186 15.089
Gotoku Sakai 106,90 21,9 Verteidiger 108 8.400
Tunay Torun 101,00 22,8 Verteidiger 128 7.433
Antonio Rüdiger 95,78 19,9 Verteidiger 45 3.381
Benedikt Röcker 90,46 23,2 Verteidiger 100 6.474
William Kvist 132,21 27,9 Mittelfeld 248 20.644
Christian Gentner 117,97 27,5 Mittelfeld 309 22.747
Zdravko Kuzmanovic 114,30 25,4 Mittelfeld 282 19.019
Tamas Hajnal 109,30 31,9 Mittelfeld 247 18.807
Ibrahima Traore 98,56 24,8 Mittelfeld 140 9.730
Daniel Didavi 96,50 22,9 Mittelfeld 102 7.177
Mamadou Bah * 94,74 24,8 Mittelfeld 85 5.798
Raphael Holzhauser 94,55 20,0 Mittelfeld 83 5.692
Cacau * 114,70 31,9 Angriff 365 26.220
Martin Harnik * 113,70 25,6 Angriff 240 17.579
Shinji Okazaki 112,38 26,8 Angriff 162 12.193
Vedad Ibisevic 112,08 28,5 Angriff 231 16.087
Soufian Benyamina 100,41 22,9 Angriff 107 7.348

Aktiv wurden die Stuttgarter in allen Mannschaftsteilen, besonders in der Innenverteidigung in der sie mit Benedikt Röcker (90,5), aus der eigenen zweiten Mannschaft, und Felipe (96,5), geliehen aus Wolfsburg, gleich zwei Spieler holten. Dies ist nachvollziehbar, da mit Georg Niedermeier einer der drei etatmäßigen Innenverteidiger verletzt ist und der Sommer-Neuzugang Antonio Rüdiger (95,8) vielleicht nicht alle Erwartungen erfüllen kann. Jedenfalls spielt er unter Bruno Labadia nicht Innenverteidigung. Ob das bei Röcker und Felipe besser läuft bleibt abzuwarten. Der GoalImpact macht mich nicht optimistisch.

Im Mittelfeld kommt Alexandru Maxim (96,9). Nach GoalImpact eher eine Ergänzung als eine Verstärkung.Ich bin gespannt, ob das genügt in Zeiten wo der Zugriff im Mittelfeld immer wichtiger wird.

Mit Federico Macheda holt Stuttgart auch noch einen Stürmer, der mit 113,5 gut die Lücke der verletzten Harnik und Cacau füllen kann. Leider ist er nur von Manchester United ausgeliehen.

Wintertransfers 2012/2013 (V)

Update: Der folgende Artikel beruht auf einer alten Version des Algorithmus. Mathis Bolly hat nach der neuen Version 92,0 und Andre Hoffmann 94,0.
 
Fortuna Düsseldorf verpflichtet den linken Mittelfeldspieler Mathis Bolly. Bolly ist 22 Jahre jung und hat einen nicht besonders überragenden GoalImpact von 102,8 in den 60 Spielen in meiner Datenbank. 22 ist noch nicht alt, so dass da noch Luft nach oben ist, und er ist immerhin U21 Nationalspieler von Norwegen - wenn auch noch ohne Einsatz. Da er nicht allzu teuer gewesen sein dürfte, ein solider Transfer.

Der VfB Stuttgart holt sich Rastko Suljagic an Bord. Leider habe ich keine Daten über ihn. Dafür verlässt Francisco Rodriguez den Verein. Er hatte in 87 Spielen einen GoalImpact von 95,9. Der VfB wird seinen Weggang verschmerzen können.

Andre Hoffmann wechselt vom Zweitligisten MSV Duisburg zu Hannover 96. Der 19jährige U-Nationalspieler gilt als Talent im defensiven Mittelfeld. Mit 103,7 in 54 Spielen ist er denn auch überdurchschnittlich, aber (noch) nicht überragend.