Who should dare to become a scientist?

Free University of Berlin

On the occasion of the 2006 soccer World Cup, we tried for the first time to predict the outcome of a major soccer tournament using the so-called market value method and then also used this forecasting method for the following World Cup and European Championship tournaments.

In fact, the teams with the highest market values ​​won the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and 2010 (Italy and Spain), as did the most expensive team in 2008 and 2012 (Spain). At the World Cup in Brazil, the method favored Spain and Germany and, as is well known, the DFB team - with the second most expensive squad - won the title through Mario Götze's legendary winning goal against Argentina.

In contrast to many other, sometimes quite complicated forecast models, the market value method is astonishingly simple. A transparent and publicly available indicator with which the performance of a footballer can be modeled is his market value. Nowadays football players are under constant observation by agents, talent scouts, sports managers, coaches and numerous other experts who continuously evaluate the performance potential of the players.

These performance assessments are expressed in the player's transfer value in the player's market. The player's price reveals what current, but especially what future performance is expected of him. You can read about this for umpteen leagues and players on the website www.transfermarkt.de, which is run by interested fans and some professionals.

"Many top teams are on the same level in terms of their market values"

Just as the market value reflects the sporting performance potential of an individual footballer, the performance of the entire team can also be read off from their market value. The team market value is the sum of the market values ​​of all individual players. Accordingly, we assume that the most expensive team is also the potentially strongest tournament team and therefore has the highest probability of winning the tournament.

This forecasting method has not only proven itself in the last World Cup and European Championship tournaments. The predictive power of the market value method is particularly clear in league football, where the championship title in the top European leagues is usually played among the most expensive teams. Boredom has also increased in the Bundesliga in recent years because wealthy Bayern Munich is far ahead of the competition.

In contrast, the fans can look forward to the upcoming European Championship, because excitement is guaranteed here. Our comparison of the teams shows that many top teams are on the same level in terms of their market values ​​and therefore have the potential to win the title.

In the group stage, where the differences between the market values ​​of the teams are very pronounced. B. Albania with a squad value of 46 million meets France with 487 million, it is to be expected that the usual suspects prevail in their respective groups. It gets really exciting from the quarter-finals at the latest. A clear favorite for the title can then no longer be identified.

"The DFB provides the most expensive team"

Germany will compete in France with a team value of 562 million euros. Despite the removal of Marco Reus, whose transfer value alone is estimated at 45 million euros, the DFB is the most expensive team. However, the lead over the other favorite teams is extremely narrow: The 23 Spanish players nominated by Vicente del Bosque bring it to a transfer value of approx. 558 million euros. But also in the following ranks with France (487 million), England (477 million) and Belgium (461 million) are "high quality" teams.

What distinguishes the European Championship in France from the last World Cup and European Championship tournaments is the fact that the gap between the top teams has melted a lot. This is especially true for the relationship between Germany and Spain; the gap between the two teams is closer than ever.

In addition to Germany, Belgium in particular has grown enormously over time. Numerous players from this team have made it to the top of the world and would generate correspondingly high transfer fees if they changed clubs.

If Germany and Belgium should be group winners and prevail in the round of 16, they would meet in the quarter-finals. Should Germany win the game, then the DFB team with France “threatens” the next big chunk in the semifinals. For Jogi's boys it can be a tough and rocky road that leads to the final and a possible fourth European title.