Friday marks the beginning of Euro 2016, the quadrennial tournament to decide the finest soccer (football?) team in Europe. The host nation, France, will get things underway at 9 p.m. local time, kicking off against Romania to begin a solid month of action leading up to the July 10 championship match.
Here at PitchBook, we’re not so great at sporting prognostication. But we do have a treasure trove of information on venture capital investment in Europe. So to get our readers ready for 31 days of golazos, howlers and exaggerated injuries, we tried to answer a simple question:
If Euro 2016 were a VC tournament instead of a soccer tournament, who would win?
Using the PitchBook Platform, we compiled the total number of VC deals completed in each of the 24 participating countries since July 1, 2012—the date of Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in the most recent Euro final. We then played out the whole tournament, with the winner of each match being the country where more VC deals have occurred in the past four years. For example, since France has been home to 1,842 VC deals in the timespan compared to just 50 in Romania, Les Bleus pick up an easy win in our simulated opener.
Make sense? Good. To begin with, here’s a very brief breakdown of each of the six groups. Each winner and runner-up advances to the knockout round, as do the four third-place finishers who perform the best in the group stage (bolded teams advance).
Just as it likely will in the real tournament, France wins the group with ease, more than tripling second-place finisher Switzerland in deal count. Eliminated are Romania and Albania, the latter of which ranks dead last in the entire field with just four VC deals completed in the past four years.
Another group with very little drama, as England coasts to a win and Russia cruises to second place. Underdog Wales sneaks into the round of 16 as our final third-place qualifier, while Slovakia makes the bittersweet trip back to its very scenic homeland.
Part of what makes international soccer so fun are the centuries of latent geopolitical tension underlying many of the matchups. Group C brings us winner Germany, second-place Poland and third-place Ukraine in a triumvirate of countries that played significant roles in a rather notable continental squabble from 1939 to 1945; all three move on. Last-place Northern Ireland was just happy to qualify after missing out on Euro 2012.
Defending champion Spain is the clear-cut winner here, and Turkey is the just-as-clear-cut runner-up. Croatia and the Czech Republic never stood a chance, with neither nation topping 100 VC deals in the chosen timeframe.
We've reached the VC Group of Death. This is without question the most competitive group, with Ireland, Italy and Sweden all topping 750 deals. All three advance, in that order, with Belgium bowing out (the Red Devils were our unluckiest team: They would have advanced in any other group (and won Group F)).
The easiest group in the real field is also one of the easiest in our VC version. Portugal has the lowest deal count of any group winner, with Austria lagging not too far behind. Hungary snags third to advance, while little Iceland bites the bullet.
Round of 16
That moves us into the knockout stage, where we managed to set up a bracket following UEFA’s very convoluted procedures. Switzerland advances past Poland, setting up a quarterfinal battle with Spain, which easily defeats Hungary. England beats Ukraine and Italy upsets Portugal to complete the octofinals on the left side of the bracket. On the other half, Germany hammers Wales and Ireland handles Turkey, while France upends Sweden and Russia throttles Austria.
Spain has little trouble with Switzerland; to this point, the Spaniards have defeated every opponent by at least 500 deals. They’ll face a stiff test in the semifinals against England, a financial powerhouse that has little difficulty getting past Italy. The other semi pits Germany, which beats Ireland, against host nation France, which defeats Russia in the first matchup of our tournament to feature two teams with more than 1,000 VC deals in the past four years.
Spain, England, Germany and France: It would be little surprise if the four teams still standing in our VC tournament were the final four teams in the real thing. England continues its inexorable march to the title game with a beatdown of Spain, while Germany edges France in the closest matchup of the whole tournament. France has been home to 1,842 VC deals in the past four years, narrowly trailing Germany’s count of 1,858.
But the Germans don’t stand a chance in the championship match against England, where a whopping 5,193 VC deals have taken place since the last Euro final—2.8x the number of Germany, the second-most-active country in the field.
The busiest year for VC in England in the timespan was 2014, when 1,606 deals were completed, a figure that by itself would have been the third-largest in the field. Investments in IT made up 45% of the total, with B2C accounting for another 23% and B2B comprising 14%. And as one might expect, the majority—over 55%—of all VC investment in the country occurred in London.
So there you have it. Set aside that British pessimism. While the best team on the field will be decided in the coming months, when it comes to venture capital investment, England is clearly the cream of the crop.