I’m neither a supporter of Bayern Munich nor of Chelsea FC. In Germany, I fiercely support the team from the city I was born. Here in England I support the one that plays in the district where I live.
Hence, with regard to this years Champions League final, I’m perfectly neutral.
However, I’m also an economist. And based on my professional background I’m rather confident that Bayern Munich will beat Chelsea this weekend.
This forecast is not based on the fact that Bayern will play on its home turf. It is rationally derived from purely economic arguments: Judged by the current market value of the individual playes, Bayern will have the stronger and more powerful squad on the ground.
On Friday, the German football magazine “kicker” published the most probable formations of Bayern and Chelsea. Judged by the current market value of the player – estimated by the football website Transfermarkt – the German XI will be about 30 percent stronger than the English one.
The Bayern XI will be worth 290.5 million Euro while Chelsea’s players are just worth 202.5 million Euro. Even if the ageing forward Didier Drogba would be replaced by the expensive (and mostly useless) Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s value would only climb to 235 million Euro.
The most striking difference between both teams is in the midfield and in the attacking units. The six Bayern players Sebastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery and Mario Gomez have a combined market value that is higher than that of all eleven Chelsea players. They are worth 212 million Euro.
The goalies are a much closer match: Manuel Neuer is better than Petr Cech, but the difference is rather tiny (30 million Euro vs. 25 million). Chelsea’s defensive unit is slightly stronger than Bayern’s. The four defenders of the British team are worth 62,5 million Euro while Bayern’s would cost 48.5 million.
The idea to use the transfer value of the individual players as a forecasting tool traces back to Gert Wager, a Professor of Economics at the Berlin University of Technology, and Jürgen Gerhards, a professor of Sociology at the Free University of Berlin.
Their track record is rather impressive. Wagner and Gerhards were able to successfully predict the winning teams of the World Cup in 2006 and 2010 as well as the Euro 2008. “Our method confirms the idea that simple models quite often work as precisely as more complex and intricate forecasting tools”, says Gerhards.
However, they also concede that pure happenstance often plays the decisive role in football. In a single match, this factor might be much more important than in a tournament where teams play several games.
According to the German sport scientist Roland Loy, about 50 percent of all goals are happening by chance, for example because of outright errors by the goalie or the referee or because the ball was deflected in a completely unpredictable way. Loy’s assessment rests on the detailed analysis of more than 3000 professional football games.
Hence, in fact anything can happen in Munich. This is why I really look forward to watching the game.