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Euro 2024 quarter-finals update: is football coming home?

The quarter-finals of the European Championship take place over the next couple of days. France are back as favourites to lift the trophy, while Spain are second favourites. England squeaked through to the last eight – and there is now a 17% chance of football coming home.

After 19 goals across the eight games in the last 16, the 2024 European Championships continue with a relatively low rate of goalscoring. The tournament remains tight too, relative to previous editions, with an average goal difference of 1.4 in match-ups in the last 16.

This reinforces the point that despite a larger set of teams in the competition since 2016, the quality of the entertainment on show does not appear to have suffered.

Eight teams now remain as the quarter-finals begin on Friday evening. As France squeezed past tough opposition in Belgium in the last 16, they are once again favourites – there is a 21% chance that they will lift the trophy on 14 July.

France’s front-runner status comes despite the team not having scored a goal themselves in open play: their results so far have come from two own goals and a penalty. This emphasises the fact that tournament football is not necessarily about being convincing in the early stages of the competition.

Spain have slipped slightly behind France as second favourites at 19% – and they may struggle thanks to another quirk of tournament football over recent decades. As Alex Krumer has pointed out on Twitter/X, 15 of the 19 teams that have won by three or more goals in the first knock-out round have been eliminated in the next round.

Indeed, in the 2022 World Cup, all three teams that won their last 16 match by three or more goals were eliminated in the quarter-finals – Brazil, England and Portugal. Germany’s 4-1 win over England in the 2010 World Cup is the only case since 1986 where a team that won a last 16 match by three or more goals subsequently went on to win the competition.

The Netherlands are the other quarter-finalists affected by this quirky pattern after their comfortable 3-0 win over Romania. The Netherlands at 42%, like England (38%), are the most likely finalists – courtesy of being on the ‘easier’ side of the draw.

The other teams on that side are England’s quarter-final opponents, Switzerland, who are ranked 11th best in the competition according to our Elo ratings – and Turkey, who will meet the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and are 18th best. Even though Switzerland have been impressive so far, and Turkey have made an impact, both remain on paper the weakest teams left in the tournament.

Of course, this does not mean that neither will progress. There is a 7% chance that Switzerland will line up against Turkey on 10 July in Dortmund, and a 53% chance that it will be the Netherlands facing England.

England have a 68% chance of eliminating Switzerland and reaching the semi-finals. As has been widely observed, England’s performances so far have been lacklustre, while the Swiss have impressed, especially in eliminating Italy in the last 16.

The 68% chance for England means that there is a non-negligible 32% chance that Switzerland progress. As Slovakia found in the last 16, you can competently execute a game plan and get to the 94th minute out of 96, but a moment of magic by one of England’s undoubtedly most talented individuals, can make all of the difference.

Indeed, according to Transfermarkt, England have five of the ten most highly valued players in the tournament. The beauty of knock-out football is that it all depends on the day – there aren’t 38 or 46 matches over a league season to determine who is best. Metaphorically speaking, England may turn up on Saturday – or Switzerland may. We will see.

The other side of the draw contains the two best-ranked sides in the competition, plus Portugal (5th best) and Germany (8th, but with home advantage). That home advantage means that Germany have a 47% chance of beating Spain despite the seeming Spanish superiority. Portugal, who are ranked higher than Germany, have just a 39% chance of beating France, despite France and Spain having an almost identical Elo rating now.

The change in Elo ratings over the course of the tournament reflects the varying performances so far. Germany, Spain and Switzerland, who have all been strong in their groups and won their last 16 matches comfortably, have added up to 20 points to their Elo ratings.

In comparison, the Netherlands – thanks to their 2-3 reverse against Austria – have lost Elo rating points (down to 1300 from 1303). France have edged up seven points to 1359, while England have added just one point to their Elo rating (now at 1307). Portugal’s Elo rating has dropped over ten points thanks to their loss to Georgia and having been held scoreless over 120 minutes by Slovenia (before winning comfortably on penalties).

All of this means that behind France (21%) and Spain (19%), the Netherlands are third favourites (18%) and England fourth (17%). Germany have an 11% chance of winning the tournament on home soil, while Portugal have a 9% chance of repeating what they managed in 2016. Switzerland have a 4% chance of going all the way, and Turkey a 1% chance.

So, is football coming home? There’s a 17% chance.

Figure 1: Euro 2024 quarter-finalists’ probabilities of further progress in the tournament

Source: Author's calculations, Elo ratings

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Author: J. James Reade
Image: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany. Credit: Josip Ivankovic
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