Euro Hangovers – and How Much Rest Do We Need?

Euro Hangovers – and How Much Rest Do We Need?
April 23, 2013 Krishaldo

By Krishen Bhautoo.

In March 2011, Graeme Riley wrote a piece “European Hangover? LFC’s Record After Euro Games”. After the recent “Symposium #12 Next Year’s Europa Anyone?”, I thought that it could be something worth revisiting.

If you haven’t read the piece by Graeme, he looks at the results that Liverpool have achieved when playing within five days after a European tie. These were broken down as Home and Away European games, as well as during the different eras of European competition

These were his findings (I hope he doesn’t mind me using them):

After Europe home matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

60

31

18

11

1990-2001

21

10

4

7

2001-2010

57

29

9

19

Total

138

70

31

37

After Europe away matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

62

33

21

8

1990-2001

22

16

4

2

2001-2010

58

29

15

14

Total

142

78

40

24

After Europe all matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

124

65

40

19

1990-2001

44

27

8

9

2001-2010

115

58

24

33

Total

283

150

72

61

Using Graeme’s figures, I have recalculated them into percentages:

After Europe home matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

60

51.7%

30.0%

18.3%

1990-2001

21

47.6%

19.0%

33.3%

2001-2010

57

50.9%

15.8%

33.3%

Total

138

50.7%

22.5%

26.8%

After Europe away matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

62

53.2%

33.9%

12.9%

1990-2001

22

72.7%

18.2%

9.1%

2001-2010

58

50.0%

25.9%

24.1%

Total

142

54.9%

28.2%

16.9%

After Europe all matches, within 5 days

P

W

D

L

1964-1985

124

52.4%

32.3%

15.3%

1990-2001

44

61.4%

18.2%

20.5%

2001-2010

115

50.4%

20.9%

28.7%

Total

283

53.0%

25.4%

21.6%

It seems that in general, we do better after having played away in Europe. But with the recent history of Liverpool in Europe (Champions, Finalists then Europa League-ists), I wanted to see if there have been any differences in the what type of competition we compete in, i.e. is playing in the Europa League more detrimental to your team’s performance in the league than playing in the Champions League?

There has been some discussion on the merits of being in the second tier European competition, or whether ‘accidentally’ avoiding it would be more beneficial to our league campaign next term.

Personally, I see both sides of the argument but am 70/30 on the side of Europe being a good thing for the club. As many have said, how can we get into the  Champions League and expect to stay there if we can’t handle a league campaign and ‘only’ Europa? Others have said, let’s get to the Champions League (with its pot of gold) and worry about the season after that when we will have money to buy the players of the right calibre to bring the squad to the right level.

Then there are the financial implications of Europa, as summed up nicely by Dan75:

Purely on the financial side

1) Difference between finishing 8th and 5th in the Premier League is about £2.3m in “merit payments” from Sky

2) Europa League group stage worth about £2.5m

3) Prize money for winning final is 5m EUR but only 1m EUR for Semi-Finals and lower again before that

4) It’s difficult to estimate the matchday revenue for Europa League but as a PL game at Anfield is c£1.8m-£2m, I’d estimate a range of £750k to £1m per home EL match.  A conservative estimate of five home games would therefore be £3.75m

Making a total minimum revenue estimate of £2.3m + £2.5m + £0.3m + £3.8m = £8.9m.  Get to the QF and you could be looking at £10m, win it and you could be looking at £15m.

All in all, that’s not to be sniffed at, especially when you’re making big losses

But the big debate (and source of several ‘gates’) has been whether European competition has a detrimental effect on points gained in the following league game. The research done by Raymond Verheijen states that:

Based on 27,000 games it has been proven that only 72hrs recovery between games means 40% less chance of winning compared to 96hrs or more.

This stat has been ‘discredited’ by many knowledgeable posters on TTT that the figure of 27,000 isn’t completely genuine and that the figures are slightly skewed to fit the theory, and nor did it take into account the difficulty of the opposition. This lead me to start doing some digging myself and see if there was indeed any correlation at all.

To do this, I looked at EVERY competitive Liverpool FC game from 2000-01 up to and including the recent win versus Tottenham (gratefully sourced via lfchistory.net). For the league games, I used each opposition’s final league standing for that season as their level of difficulty (using league standings as of Friday 15th March for this season). This is 734 games, 485 of which are in the Premier League. Not quite at Mr Verheijen’s 27,000 matches but hopefully enough to see a trend. In an ideal world, I would have the data for six or seven English clubs that have been in European competition, but unfortunately, due to the level of work that was required just to compile and sort Liverpool matches, it was almost impossible for a part time stats man!

So what did I find?

Euro vs No Euro

On the face of it would seem that the Euro sceptics are right, playing in the competition is detrimental to your league form. If we were to (hypothetically) win the Europa League next season that would constitute six group matches, eight games getting to the final and the final itself, so 15 matches which could be equivalent to 3.24 dropped points. Not completely devastating, but could mean the difference between 4th and 5th. I still wanted to look a bit deeper…

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