An analysis of the countries with the best/worst records in the European (Soccer) Championships

June 9, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th June 2016

Ah the summer of a year ending in an even number can mean only one thing – a major international soccer tournament and this year (being divisible by four) it is the turn of the Europeans! While a number of countries competing in this year’s tournament have excellent records over the previous fourteen tournaments, some other countries such as the Ukraine, Republic of Ireland and Poland do not have great records in the European Championships. But how do teams rank in terms of their performance in past European championships? I’ve done a number crunch here to try and answer that question.

Basically, the system I have developed awards:

  • 23 points for winning a tournament (8 teams)/25 points for winning a tournament (16/24 teams)
  • 13 points for getting to the final of a tournament (8 teams)/15 points for getting to the final of a tournament (16/24 teams)
  • 10 points for getting to the semi final of a tournament (16/24 teams)
  • 8 points for getting to the semi final of a tournament (8 teams)
  • 6 points for getting to the quarter finals of a tournament/European Finals in years when 16/24 countries took part
  • 4 points for getting to the quarter finals (Finals) of a tournament/European Finals in years when only 8 countries took part/getting to the second round of European Finals in years when 16 countries took part
  • 3 points for getting to the second round of European Finals in years when 24 countries took part
  • 2 points for making it to the European Finals in years when 16 or 24 countries took part (i.e. 1996 and subsequent years)
  • 1 point for making it to the Last 16 of the tournament in European Championships contests before the 1996 Finals – includes countries making it to Last 16 when qualifiers or finishing second in the qualifying groups in year when European Finals only involved eight countries.

Adding up these points across the thirteen previous tournaments, commencing with the first such tournament (1958-60) and continuing up to the present tournament in France (i.e. awarding two points to all teams competing in the 2016 Finals), the following pattern emerges:

Rank Country Points
1 West Germany/Germany 142
2 Spain 123
3 USSR/Russia 101
4 France 95
5 Italy 87
6 Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic 80
6 Netherlands 80
8 Portugal 60
9 Denmark 56
10 Yugoslavia/Serbia (and Montenegro) 51
11 England 48
12 Greece 41
13 Belgium 34
14 Sweden 28
15 Romania 27
16 Hungary 25
17 Turkey 22
18 Croatia 18
19 Rep. Ireland 14
20 Bulgaria 12
21 Austria 11
21 Switzerland 11
23 Poland 10
24 Wales 8
25 Scotland 7
26 Northern Ireland 6
27 East Germany 5
28 Luxembourg 4
28 Ukraine 4
30 Albania 3
31 Iceland 2
31 Latvia 2
31 Norway 2
31 Slovakia 2
31 Slovenia 2

Not surprisingly, the Germans emerge as having the best record across past European competitions, although it is more surprising to note that country’s poor record in the first few contests right up to their first win in the competition in 1972. (Then again Germany did not compete in the first tournament in 1960.) Despite failing to make it to the Last 8 of any of the contests held during the 1960s, Germany holds the record for the most Finals (6) and Semi Finals (8) of any of the participating countries, although Spain (11) has qualified for more Quarter Finals than Germany (9) has. With a number of victories in the competition and a consistent record of making it to the final stages of these tournaments, Spain are ranked second.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, especially given their rather poor record in World Cup tournaments, Russia/The USSR emerge as having the third best record in European tournaments, but it becomes rather less surprising when one considers that Russia/The USSR have won this tournament on one occasion (albeit in the very first tournament), made the final on three other occasions and made the semi finals on six occasions in all. With one win and one other final appearance, the Czechs (ranked 6th) are another nation whose performance (and ranking on this list) far out-shadows their success levels in World Cups – a trend that also applies in the cases of Denmark (ranked 9th), Yugoslavia/Serbia (ranked 10th) and Greece (ranked 12th).  By contrast, four-times World Cup winners, Italy, only make it to 5th in the rankings (although their 2012 results push them up from 7th in the previous set of rankings), while 1966 World Cup winners, England, only make it to 11th (and only rank ahead of countries such as Greece and Belgium because of their more consistent record in qualifying for European Finals).

A number of countries that competed unsuccessfully (twenty in all) in the 2016 European Championships qualifiers have yet to make it onto this list, including countries such as

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Finland
  • Gibraltar
  • Cyprus
  • Liechenstein
  • Montenegro
  • Lithuania
  • Armenia
  • Moldova
  • San Marino
  • Georgia
  • Belarus
  • FYR Macedonia
  • Andorra
  • Azerbaijan
  • Malta
  • Estonia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Israel
  • Faroe Islands

Bosnia and Herzegovina actually qualified for the 2014 World Cup Finals but the Bosnians have yet to qualify for the European Championships, mainly thanks to some ill-timed fog and one John Walters (although it probably should be argued that the Bosnians made it to a number of tournaments while part of Yugoslavia).

 

How Ireland fared in Eurovision Semi Final 2. How Ireland voted in Semi Final 2/the Final: Televote and Jury Vote breakdowns

May 15, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 15th May 2016

Ireland finished in 15th place in the second Eurovision Semi Final with 46 points – the last country to qualify, Serbia, finished with 105 points. Australia won this semi-final with 330 points, followed by Ukraine on 287 points in second place and Belgium on 274 points in third place.

How did Ireland fare with the (other) countries who were voting in this semi-final? Based on the details provided from the official Eurovision website, we can see that Ireland were ranked accordingly by the other 20 countries who were voting in our semi-final: Read the rest of this entry »

Previewing the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final 2016

May 13, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 13th May 2016

Following on the previous posts reviewing Semi Final 1 and Semi Final 2, this post will offer a brief review of the 26 acts competing Grand Final of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. As in the case of the semi-finals, this contest will take place over two nights, with the professional juries voting on the contest taking place on the night of Friday 13th May, while the public will vote on the televised show, which takes place on the night of Saturday 14th May. Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Eurovision Final results estimate (or televote estimate!): To Russia with Love or Going to a Land Down Under?

May 13, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 13th May 2016

In these past, I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest,  the Denmark win in 2013 and the Sweden win at the 2015 contest, while this same model correctly identified 17 of the 20 qualifiers from the 2015 semi finals (although it proved decidedly less effective in predicting the 2016 qualifiers). Now that we know the running order for the 2016 Eurovision Final I am going to use this to try and tease out who the likely winners will be of the 2015 contest will be. There are, however, a variety of factors (including the problems in terms of predicting the 2016 semi final qualifiers) that suggest that the 2016 Final model may not be as accurate as in previous years, but particularly the changes being made to the voting process that effectively mean that each country’s jury vote score and public vote/televote score will be treated as separate entities for this year’s contest – i.e. each country will award two separate scores – a jury vote score and a televote/public vote score. It is the latter of these two different scores/rankings (i.e. the televote score) that this model should be most effective in predicting.

With the numbers crunched, Russia, Australia, Ukraine and Sweden – both with relatively good positions in the contest running order, a tendency to do well in terms of “friends and neighbours” and “diaspora” voting and very high rankings in the bookies odds – stand on top of the pile. Other countries/finalists, such as Armenia, France and Italy, also figure strongly in relation to these factors, or some of these factors. But be wary!

  • This model cannot take account of the impact of the actual performances on both Final nights (including the Jury Final on the Friday night and Public/Televised Final on the Saturday night).
  • As the voting history statistics are based mainly on past televoting trends, the model cannot take account for the voting decisions of the highly influential professional juries, who have as much bearing on the Final result as the televotes have.
  • The voting history statistics for Australia are quite limited and based on just one contest (2015 Final) – a contest that Australia finished 5th in, meaning that the Australia vote estimates could be somewhat over-estimated as regards this particular factor. However, this is offset by the fact that four of this year’s entrants (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine) did not participate in last year’s contest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eurovision Song Contest: The Luck of the Draw…or the Running Order?

May 13, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 13th May 2016

Song, performance and staging matter in terms of ultimate Eurovision success. “Diaspora” and “friends and neighbours” voting can also help a country’s prospects of doing well in the contest, though of course not in themselves proving sufficient to win the contest for those countries that can especially benefit from these voting trends. But another key factor that can shape a country’s hopes of winning the contest is the position in the contest running order that they get to perform in, with the usual rule of thumb suggesting that a later draw position will significantly help a country’s hopes of doing well in the contest. Positions in the running order had traditionally been decided by a draw up to the 2012 contest. But since the 2012 contest in Malmo, participating countries have just drawn to decide whether they will perform in the first half or second half of a contest, with the host TV producers then deciding the running order based on what combination of entries works the best in terms of producing a better TV show. (The host country is the only one that draws to decide their position in the Final running order).  Read the rest of this entry »

Eurovision Song Contest 2016: Semi Final 2 Review

May 10, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 10th May 2016

Following on the previous post reviewing Semi Final 1, this post will offer a brief review of the 18 acts competing in the second of the two semi-finals for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. 19 countries were initially drawn to participate in this semi-final but the expulsion of Romanian TV station TVR from the EBU meant that Romanian act, Ovidiu Anton, was very unfortunately disqualified from the contest, literally days before rehearsals commenced in Stockholm. As in the case of Semi Final 1 (and also the Final), this contest will take place over two nights, with the professional juries voting on the contest taking place on the night of Wednesday 11th May, while the public will vote on the televised show, which takes place on the night of Thursday 12th May. Read the rest of this entry »

Eurovision Song Contest 2016: Semi Final 1 Review

May 9, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th May 2016

The post will offer a brief review of the 18 acts competing in the first of the two semi-finals for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. This contest will take place over two nights, with the professional juries voting on the contest taking place on the night of Monday 9th May, while the public will vote on the televised show, which takes place on the night of Tuesday 10th May. Read the rest of this entry »

Key Dates in Eurovision Song Contest history (1956-2016)

May 9, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th May 2016

1956: First ever Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. Seven countries took part (the six founder members of the EEC, as well as Switzerland – Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom would all enter the contest in the following year). For the only time in the contest’s history, each act performed two songs. Jury members were, for the only time, allowed to vote for their own country and only the winning song was revealed by the jury – Refrain by Lys Assia – and no further voting details/places were revealed. Only solo artists were allowed to take part, although duos were permitted in 1957. The songs were limited in terms of time to three and a half minutes (with this being reduced to three minutes for the 1958 contest). Read the rest of this entry »

The Curse of Last Year’s Hosts at the Eurovision Song Contest

May 9, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 9th May 2016

One trend that seems to be fairly consistent across Eurovision Song Contests relates to the often poor performances by countries that have won the contest two years beforehand and thus hosted it the year before, in what many people refer to as the curse of last year’s hosts. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunlight or Shade? Which countries tend to give Ireland the most/least Eurovision points?

May 6, 2016

Adrian Kavanagh, 6th May 2016

Each year, usually after an Irish act fails to do as well as expected at a Eurovision Song Contest, we hear the usual rants about “political voting” or “Eastern European countries only voting for other Eastern European countries”. Most of these urban legends are, quite simply, ráiméis – they do match up with the actual facts, or the trends that can be observed from a study of recent Eurovision voting trends. “Give me facts” said that legend of English literature, Mr. Gradgrind, and that is what this website always sets out to do!

So what are the facts as regards the countries that Ireland is most likely, or least likely, to win points from at the Eurovision Song Contest? The trends that emerge show that some of Ireland’s very best “supporters” at the Eurovision Song Contest (since the introduction of televoting in 1998) do, admittedly, include a number of “Western” states – including Denmark, Malta, San Marino, Finland and Sweden, but particularly the United Kingdom – but Irish acts have also won higher levels of support from the Baltic States – particularly Latvia – and Hungary than they have won from the rest of the “Western” countries. Indeed, some of Ireland’s lowest scores during the period since televoting was introduced in 1998 have come from “Western” countries, such as Italy and France.

Figure 1: Average number of points, by country, awarded to Ireland at Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals/finals between 1998 and 2015

Figure 1: Average number of points, by country, awarded to Ireland at Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals/finals between 1998 and 2015

The map above (Figure 1) shows that there is a pretty defined geography in terms of where Ireland has won the most Eurovision points across most of the past two decades, but what seems to be most important here is probably “cultural proximity” rather than “geographical proximity”. Read the rest of this entry »


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