Odd odds: The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw

Stefan Klößner and Martin Becker

Abstract

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is characterized by restrictions that prevent teams from the same preliminary group and the same nations from matches against each other. Together with the draw procedure currently employed by UEFA, this leads to odd probabilities: in 2012/2013, there were more outcomes of the draw with German Schalke 04 facing Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk than there were results where they were matched with Galatasaray Istanbul. In contrast, the probability of Schalke being drawn against Galatasaray exceeded that of playing Shakhtar. We show that this strange effect is due to the group restriction and the mechanism used by UEFA for the draw. Additionally, we provide procedures with which UEFA could produce adequate probabilities for the draw.

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JQAS, an official journal of the American Statistical Association, publishes research on the quantitative aspects of professional and collegiate sports. Articles deal with subjects as measurements of player performance, tournament structure, and the frequency and occurrence of records. Additionally, the journal serves as an outlet for professionals in the sports world to raise issues and ask questions that relate to quantitative sports analysis.

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