Football classics cannot be predicted

Erasmus School of Economics

In a recent article by Jan van Ours, Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, and Martijn Quist, Double bachelor student of economics and econometrics and participant of the Bachelor Honours Research Class of Erasmus School of Economics, they discuss how little influence economics and statistics actually have in professional football.

Since the inception of the Eredivisie, there are only three clubs that are considered the top teams: Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. To investigate where the differences in scores come from, it is important to consider the relative strengths of the teams. These can be measured via the ELO-rating. This ELO-rating is based on past results and is often used to predict matches. To check afterwards whether the cause of a deviating prediction might be coincidence, surprise points are used.

Great variety

"We use ELO-rating-based probabilities of wins, draws and losses to calculate how many points a club would have expected to score in a match between them and compare that to the points they scored. The difference is the number of surprise points." These surprise points show that it is impossible to get a grip on a correct prediction; the results of top games vary greatly. Van Ours and Quist use a nice metaphor for this: all three top teams are different, and can be compared to a rock, paper and scissors. Who wins this game, the match, varies each time.

More information

You can read the full article from, 2 September 2022, here

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