Liverpool were given a very favorable draw in the Champions League. How favorable? Prior to the draw, data company Gracenote Sports were not overly optimistic about the Reds’ chances, predicting Merseyside’s finest to crash and burn in the group stage. After the draw, Gracenote puts the odds of Liverpool advancing at 81%, the best odds of all five English sides.
Gracenote’s analysis seems to back up the conventional wisdom of Group E, that of a two-horse race between Sevilla and Liverpool for the top spot. Sevilla appear to have a slight advantage based on these numbers, with their odds of advancing slightly higher than Liverpool’s at 84%. This would seem to shine an even brighter light on tomorrow night’s opening fixture between the two group favorites at Anfield.
As for other British clubs, the two Manchester sides each came in with a 73% chance of advancing to the Round of 16. Meanwhile, the London clubs have their work cut out. Chelsea are predicted to struggle in their group with Roma and Atletico Madrid, while Tottenham are clear underdogs against Real Madrid and Dortmund. Celtic, led by Brendan Rodgers, are given just a 4% chance of escaping in a group with Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and Anderlecht.
Last year Gracenote Sports correctly predicted 15 of the 16 teams to advance out of the Champions League Group Stage and 27 of 32 in the Europa League. While statistical analysis can have very strong predictive powers, it’s not perfect. We can all remember times when the odds went out the window the moment the ball is kicked. Liverpool can’t win the group or secure advancement tomorrow, but they can take a big step toward both with a positive result.