Friday 20 April 2012

Chelsea or Barca.Who Exactly are Favourites to go through?

Maintaining a European Super League table that shows how teams from all the major leagues compare to one another is a relatively straightforward,if tedious task.Just as the various domestic Cup competitions combined with the constant movement through promotion and relegation in individual leagues provides a number of collateral form lines throughout each division,Europa and Champions League games provide a similar network of games to provide a means to compare teams from different countries.

Stoke have played Valencia,who have played Barca,who have played Chelsea is just one interconnected and circular formline that can easily branch off and stretch as high as the Bundesliga and as low the English League Two.Solving the reams of simultaneous equations that a matrix of actual inter European club games can generate is best tackled with a fast computer,but once the process is up and running it becomes fairly easy to dovetail each European league inside another.

Southampton and Reading seem to be fairly typical representatives of the likely promoted Championship sides,so it's not surprising to see their pre transfer window incarnations slotting in around 16th place in the current EPL based on collateral cup form this year.Stoke for all their Europa League success would be a mid table Serie A side,relegation threatened Bundesliga one and would probably be looking forward to life in the Segunda Division had they started 2011/12 as a Primera liga side.

But of most immediate interest for this kind of analysis is how Chelsea are likely to fare when they travel to Camp Nou next week in defense of their 1-0 league earned from a possession deficient,defensive rearguard display,punctuated by a liberal use of the longball and ruthlessly efficient finishing.Not dissimilar to the kind of performances from Stoke that is so roundly condemned in post match interviews.

Domestically,Chelsea have regressed for most of the year.At the start of the season only Manchester United were superior to them in England,but they've now slipped behind the likes of City,Arsenal and possibly even Spurs.At the end of 2010/11,across Europe they were better than every Italian side,all bar three in Spain and two in Germany,but a season of turmoil has seen them fall behind Milan in Italy,the top four,possibly five in Germany and a host of Spanish sides.Barca have themselves fallen below the high standards they set in 2010/11,but their demise from best team in Europe/the World to merely second best still leaves them towering above most other teams.If Chelsea had spent their year playing in La Liga they would probably currently occupy one of the congested positions around the top 10 and as such would be in the region of a goal and a half inferior to Barca.

If we add an additional four tenths of a goal to Barca's rating to allow for home field advantage that takes their supremacy in the return leg to around 1.8 of a goal and that equates to a 79% chance of winning the match by any score inside the 90 minutes.Any win for Barca by a single goal,bar a 1-0,will see them win on the night,but be eliminated on the away goals rule and there's about a cumulative 9% chance of any of these scores occurring.A 1-0 takes the game to extra time,a 15% chance and if Barca "win" the 30 minute mini game by any score they obviously progress.It's a 48% chance that Barca score more goals than Chelsea in extra time.

If they "draw" the 30 minute mini game by any score other than 0-0,they again win on the night but are eliminated on away goals.If no goals are scored in extra time and the 30' period ends as a 0-0 "draw",then the game progresses to penalties,where I've assumed neither team will have an edge.A goal less extra time has a 41% chance of occurring.

We now have assembled all the routes to a Barca qualification,along with their respective probabilities and if we add and multiply where appropriate we find that far from being favourites,as claimed by Pep Guadiola immediately after the game on Wednesday,Chelsea are still under dogs.Guadiola's side have in excess of a 54% chance of winning the game without the need for extra time,a 7% chance of winning in extra time and a 3% chance of needing a penalty shootout.Giving a grand total of 65%,much more in line with the views of professional oddsetters than the mind games that were being practiced after the game at The Bridge.

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