June 12, 2020



With the successful return of football in Europe (Bundesliga among others), eyes now turn to the rest of the big football leagues in Europe.  However, there is already some evidence that without fans, home field advantage has gone away.  This raises real questions about how different the results from the rest of the season being played without fans will be from what would have happened had the season been able to complete as scheduled.  

With La Liga returning, I will focus on what I think would have happened had the season not been suspended.  To do this, I used DataRobot and historical data from Data Sports Group, I built models that would predict the winner of any matchup in the top five European football leagues.  Taking into account both teams recent results, the performance of their players and the quality of their opponents, I used DataRobot to train models that would predict the winner of any matchup.  We used these models to predict the knockout stage of the Champions League.  These predictions are built using these models to simulate the remaining matchdays 10,000 times.  For each team, we calculated the average number of wins, draws and losses over those 10,000 seasons to build an average final table.

In this simulation, we expect an exciting final nine games as Barcelona and Real Madrid battle for the title and Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe and Atlético Madrid battle for the final two Champions League spots.  In the title race, the simulation expects Real Madrid to jump over Barcelona and nudge them for the title by a single point.  In the battle for the final two Champions League spots, the simulation predicts Atlético Madrid and Getafe will edge out Real Sociedad and Sevilla for these spots, leaving Real Sociedad and Sevilla to play in the Europa League.  

The relegation fight will be equally exciting as Leganés and Espanyol remain in the bottom two spots, but Celta Vigo and Mallorca fight to avoid the final relegation slot.  In the end, the simulation expects Mallorca to avoid the final relegation spot by just a single point.

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Written by Andrew Engel   

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