The history of the European Football Championships is full of surprises.

Who would have expected the winner Denmark in 1992, who actually didn't qualify at all, then moved up - and defeated world champions Germany in the final?

And who would have bet on Greece and Otto Rehhagel in 2004, who duped the big nations with his tactics and left Portugal bitterly disappointed in the final?

Or would you have bet on the same Portuguese five years ago who did not win a game in the preliminary round but then snatched the trophy from France in their stadium?

Tobias Rabe

Responsible editor for Sport Online.

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    No, even now it is difficult to predict who will be holding the Coupe Henri-Delauny, named after the “spiritual father” of the European Championship, in their hands on July 11, 2021 in London's Wembley Stadium.

    Will it be France, the 2018 world champion with the great storm?

    Or Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo repeating his Paris coup?

    Or is it the eternal secret favorite from Belgium, whose golden generation is running out of time?

    Maybe England, which finally wants to win a title again?

    Or even Germany at Joachim Löw's farewell tournament?

    Daniel Memmert and Fabian Wunderlich from the German Sport University in Cologne have been working on a scientific approach to predictions for a long time. Since 2014 they have been calculating the probabilities of soccer tournaments with their models at FAZ.NET: Who will win the game? Who will progress in the knockout round? Who will take the title? The forecasts are also available again this year. "Numerous scientific studies confirm that the betting market offers an excellent opportunity to forecast the results of sporting events," says Wunderlich about the current approach for the calculations based on her model.

    Why is data used by the betting market? "Firstly: Bookmakers live from their precise assessments of future sporting events, so they have a great financial incentive and the necessary expertise to forecast them precisely," explains Wunderlich. Second, many players would come together in the betting market. These are usually better than the assessment of individual experts. "Third: In contrast to other forecast sources such as rankings or past results, the betting market can take into account all relevant information, in particular the home advantage, the tournament draw or the current squad with injured players."

    Therefore, it is not enough to simply make a forecast based on past results. "We could simply make the prognosis based on the results of the last European Championship," says Wunderlich. “But this method also has weaknesses, because it hardly seems plausible that Wales would also be among the favorites just because it made it to the semi-finals in 2016. It will be even more difficult for Iceland to reach the quarter-finals again - without even being there. ”Conversely, the Netherlands are a strong team, although they weren't even there in 2016. In addition, it was five years ago.

    So are official rankings or math formulas that incorporate more recent results better? “The Elo rating, which actually comes from chess, is an excellent model here,” says Wunderlich. It is so good that FIFA (world association, d. Ed.) Has been using it as the basis for the new calculation of the world rankings since 2018. “This should be a good opportunity to objectively assess the strengths of the teams. But that would not be a good omen for the German team, because if you take the non-European teams out of the ranking, Germany is only eighth. "

    But you can only make the evaluations on the basis of results, especially since international matches, not least because of the Corona break, were relatively rare. A better basis would therefore be the market values ​​of the players, which are listed on a site like But there is also a lack of information here. “Of course, the market values ​​do not take into account the draw for the tournament, i.e. whether a team has an easy or difficult group, and the home advantage is not taken into account either. Incidentally, it has been shown in the ghost games of the major European leagues that there are also no spectators, albeit slightly reduced, ”says Wunderlich.

    That is why he and Memmert decided to bet on betting odds that take all aspects into account. However, there is no such thing as absolute security. “First of all, because of the balance. There are a large number of countries in Europe with a great interest in football, good youth work and high-class leagues. Second, because of chance. The results of soccer games are highly dependent on random influences. In a current study, we were able to find out that almost every second goal in the Premier League was favored by a random influence such as deflected balls, ricochets or unintentional goal preparation by the defense. "

    And who will now be European champion?

    The calculation model from Memmert and Wunderlich shows that France has the greatest probability of winning a title at 15.5 percent.

    They are followed by England (13.9), Belgium (11.8) and the German team (9.6).

    Italy (9.5) and Spain, which recently defeated Löw 6-0, are slightly behind (9.5), and the German opponents in the preliminary round and defending champion Portugal (9.2) also have a slightly lower probability of winning the cup .

    The dates will change.

    Before the round of 16, FAZ.NET will have an updated calculation.

    And what do I do now with my knowledge?

    The best thing to do is to try your luck in the EM prediction game on FAZ.NET.

    There are prizes worth a total of 8,000 euros to be won.