Projecting the European leagues in 2013-14 (Part 1)

We introduce league projections on Soccermetrics for over 20 leagues that follow the European calendar.  Most of these leagues are in Europe, of course, but there are also leagues in the Americas, Africa, and Asia that also follow such a schedule.

To make these projections we first project the goals scored and allowed by a team.  Goals scored take into account the career statistical output of the current roster of the club, with particular emphasis on projected starters.  Goals allowed take into account goalkeeper projection and historical defensive performance.  From these totals we use the Pythagorean expectation to create the expected point total.  We’ve written previously that the Pythagorean is primarily a descriptive metric, but it can become predictive if predicted goal statistics are inputted into it.  For giggles we include the expected win-loss-draw record.

Because we’re going into a World Cup year, many leagues following the European calendar have already kicked off (the last of the Big Five leagues start on the 17th), but the projections are made using squad lists known before the first match of the new season.

We’ll post the full predicted tables throughout the week, but we’ll run through eight leagues in this post.

Argentina: We project that Boca Juniors will win the Torneo Inicial over Vélez, but River, Estudiantes, Godoy Cruz, or Lanús could seriously compete for the title.  Relegation in Argentina is done on a three-year moving average (only points earned in Primera count) and Argentinos Juniors and Olimpo could be in greatest danger of relegation by mid-season.  It could be a straight fight between Atlético Rafaela and All Boys to avoid the third relegation slot.

Austria: Red Bull Salzburg to win the Austrian Bundesliga with a game to spare over Austria Wien.  SV Grödig to go straight back down to Erste Liga.

Belgium Pro: Belgium’s Pro League has a playoff system after the regular season, so we won’t call a league champion here.  But after the regular season is complete we expect Anderlecht to advance to the Championship Playoff with Club Brugge, Genk, Lokeren, Standard Liège, and Zulte Waregem, Oostende and Beveren to contest the Relegation Playoff and everyone else to meet in the Europa League Playoff.

Belgium 2nd Division: Eupen to ascend directly, but most likely a toss-up with Vise, Westerlo, and Mouscron-Peruwelz for promotion.  Second through fourth place meets the survivor of the Pro League’s Relegation Playoff in a Promotion Playoff Group.

Bulgaria: Another league with a playoff.  Ludogorets will be joined by Botev, Levski, Litex Lovech, Chernomorets Burgas, CSKA Sofia and Beroe to compete for the Champions League spot and the Europa League qualifier spots.  The rest — Pirin, Cherno More, Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Slavia Sofia, Neftochimik, Lokomotiv Sofia, and Lyubimets — will fight to avoid the bottom four.

Croatia: A comfortable ninth consecutive league win for Dinamo Zagreb.  Hrvatski to go down directly and Zadar to face the playoff.

Czech Republic: Viktoria Plzen to win the league over Sigma Olomouc.  Znojmo and either Teplice or Bohemians to be relegated.

Denmark: FC Kobenhavn should win the league (never mind the 10 point gap in mid-August!).  Esbjerg and Nordsjaelland far behind. Vestjaelland and SonderjyskE to return to the Danish 1st Division.

More leagues tomorrow…