Archive for July 22nd, 2010

No Stop – Even More World Cup Post-Match Analysis


These Are A Few Of Our Favourite Things

The whole world cup depicted as almost DNA type chromosomes

What could be better eh? A combination of top drawer infographic type instant fact visualisation and the entire World Cup. It’s as if someone else had been forced to spend their entire summer watching it alongside me only they had to take notes. Here the very quality Michael Deal has taken all the action from the 64 games and distilled it into a rather nice chart that you could fool people into thinking was something like the chromosomal DNA matrix of football. You can find it on the Umbro blog.

Now, based on my own recollections of the matches and a magnifying glass, I’m not so sure that statistics really tell you all that much about exactly how a match unfolded. I’m always wary of those ‘highlight stats’ like percentage of possession and shots, which never seem to tell the whole story, but these graphics are interesting in a couple of ways.

First, if they are to be believed, either my memory has gone completely and I am deliberately misremembering things, or someone, somewhere at Stato Central has got a very, very liberal definition of what a shot is. I don’t recall nearly that many shots in the matches I watched.

Second, and way more interesting, is the way you can see the balance of play going. Spain’s match with Switzerland is a great case in point. Spain, as masters of the passing it around the back to one another, seem to be represented with an almost solid block of green as they monopolise possession, while Switzerland appear either to never have had the ball or to be incapable of passing it to one another as great tracts of blank space show through their performance. Equally Engerland’s performances, which I recall being chock full of inept failed passes, appear to be full of possession.

I think that the problem with these stats is that there’s no qualitative side to them, a pass is a pass is a pass, whether it’s a short easy one played between two defenders meandering around at the back or a defence splitting goal creating pass that changes the game. It would be interesting to see if there was some way of both measuring the quality/effectiveness of a pass and depicting it. Then you really would have the basis for a cool visual interpretation of the game.