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England reveals new high-tech football

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England's "Marsipulami" football

England's "Marsupilami" football

The English World Cup delegation has revealed an alternative football, named “Marsupilami”, which is said to have highly optimized flight and bounce characteristics. The English FA has been requesting an ad-hoc hearing with FIFA officials to present their case to replace adidas’ “Jabulani” football with this new high tech football. According to a spokesperson for the English team, “Marsupilami” was used in England’s goalkeeping practice all the way back since May.


Written by Dierk

June 16, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Posted in English, Football and me

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Captain Number-Crunch (part 3)

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This is starting to be fun. Well, for me at least. While in the first article I mainly looked at things from a club and league perspective, yesterday I have tried to display what kind of “continental migration” is going on for the players participating in this World Cup. Now, for the third part of this series of analysis I focused on the European national teams and the leagues from those countries, and it was one of those moments where a simple table and the numbers it contained suddenly made a whole lot of sense. The table I am speaking of is this one:

What you see in this table is the European countries represented in this World Cup with their ranking in the UEFA team coefficient ranking (based on league’s performance in the European cup competitions). The 2nd data column shows how many different leagues (based on countries, not actually different leagues, ie. first and second division count as one) are represented in each national team. Next columns show in how many different national teams the leagues from each country are represented in and the last one how many “home” players (playing in the country’s own leagues) are represented in each national team.

The data plays out perfectly and I separated this into three categories. First, you have the “importers”, countries that have a lot of players from different leagues, but few of their top players play outside of their own league. The three only countries in the World Cup that recruit their national team exclusively from their home leagues can be found here: England, Italy and Germany (Ballack-less), in addition to that you have Spain with a trio of players earning their hefty paychecks in the Premier League.

The second group is the “importers-exporters”, countries/leagues that attract plenty of foreign talent and whose top players also venture out to play in one of the top leagues. I was surprised to see France so clearly in this group, as the league has clearly established itself as a top league in Europe, giving Italy and Germany a run for their money (quite literally). Still, less than half their top players play at home (=exporter) and there is players from 15 different national teams in this World Cup represented in the French leagues (=importer).

The last group is the “exporters”, countries/leagues, where almost all of the top players venture out to play in other leagues, and the three examples in this World Cup are Slovakia, Serbia and Slovenia. For each of these national teams, only two players still play at home. Two countries, Switzerland and Denmark, are borderline cases in terms of the “importer” criteria, as they only have 4 and 3 national teams represented in their respective leagues.

What was also striking, but probably not surprising, was that how clear the separation of the three groups correlates with the UEFA ranking. I say not surprising because of course top players tend to move to better leagues and leave the home leagues in a weaker position, but nevertheless, I wouldn’t have expected the result so clear.

So that’s it for today. For me this was the most interesting part of the series so far. As always, I hope some of the stuff I am discovering you also find interesting. Feel free to drop a comment if you are interested in any specific way to dissect league/team/nationality data of the World Cup players.

Written by Dierk

June 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Posted in English, Football and me

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Captain Number-Crunch (part 2)

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Continental Player Migration

Continental Player Migration

Today I am taking a look at where do players from their continental association’s national teams actually play their league football. I tried to show this in the above charts. The arrows are depicting to which leagues/continents they have migrated, the numbers in the oval shapes are the players staying on their “home” continent and the diamond shapes are players that do not have any team affiliation (all data as per http://www.fifa.com squad lists from June 6).

You can see that all players representing a national team from a UEFA federation actually play their football inside a league under the UEFA umbrella. The largest share of “migrants” is playing for the African national teams, which makes a lot of sense, as the money available in African leagues is probably fairly limited.

The opposite seems true for the Asian national teams, where still almost three quarters are playing in their home continent, which again seems logical, given the fact that there’s good money to be made in some Asian leagues (Japan, the Arab subcontinent’s leagues) but there’s also the effect of the North Korean team where 20 out of the 23 players are playing at home.

South American players are also well travelled, as 7 out of 10 ten are playing in Europe, and chances are that the other 3 out of 10 are hoping to do so as well after the World Cup.

A more balanced picture is offered by the Concacaf teams, where the split between players from “home” and cross-continental players is pretty even, as players representing Mexican and Honduras leagues are the majority of the “home” players of the Concacaf teams.

That’s probably all for today, let’s see what more I can pull out of the data set for tomorrow…

Written by Dierk

June 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

Posted in English, Football and me

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Captain Number-Crunch (part 1)

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Update June 9, 2010: I have replaced the old text-based tables with image files, whereas the first of the two images replaces the first two previous text-based tables. I hope this adds to the readability of this article.

In a forum discussion about UEFA’s coefficient ranking for next season, I ended up giving my opinion on how I see the German teams performing in the upcoming season, putting up the vague statement, that Bundesliga’s representatives will collect significantly less points in 2010/11 than they did in the season that just ended. I reasoned that due to the fact that many players of next year’s European cup participants will be starring in this summer’s world cup, hence overall performance of the German Bundesliga teams will drop due to late season fatigue. This combined with the fact that Germany will have to do reasonably well to maintain its lead over Italy in what is now the provisional 2010/11 UEFA ranking, this might not be that easy of a task as it seems based on the current almost 5 point advantage going into the season.

Once I had clicked “send”, I started to ponder on what I had just written and figured it might be a good idea to investigate how the players called up by their national teams for the World Cup would distribute over teams and leagues across the globe, and if there is really any one league that might be at a disadvantage come next year in European cup play due to their stars showing signs of fatigue early or late in the season due to the shortened summer break they likely will enjoy.

As somebody who spends most of his time running Excel sheets and trying to synthesize somewhat meaningful analysis from those, it was fairly obvious I wasn’t going to probe in Google and the deep and dark alleys of the world wide web to find ready made analysis, but I was going to take matters in my own hands, seek out and pull raw data and crunch those numbers myself.

The result of this you will find now in this blog post, my very first (well, this particular one is 1b, as the original I posted in German). I hope one or the other reader will find the data presented here interesting, and most likely I won’t stop with this one entry, but will make some effort to provide additional data views in subsequent entries, like for example at one point adding actual minutes played to this statistic, to remove the “world cup tourist effect” from the analysis.

Like in the German version, some excuses upfront, first, while I don’t have to worry about umlauts in the English version of my writing, the excuse that I am still lacking in the “art of keeping things short” is valid here as well. So please forgive me if I drag on and you feel I don’t get to the point…

So here is part one:

National team call-ups by country (leagues)

(combining all leagues of any given country, first, second and lower divisions):


(next are the leagues from Japan and Mexico, whose participants are mainly in the respective country’s national teams, but a few of them also represent “smaller” countries’ teams in the region)

So what to make of this? Well, first it is probably anything but surprising that the English league’s teams are leading the pack here, being the big spenders in European football, all the way down to the “bottom-feeding” teams. And the English scouts seem to be roaming the entire globe for talent, as with only a few exceptions, a Premiership or Championship player can be found in all the lineups of this World Cup (North Korea being the not so surprising exception, alongside Germany and Italy and two others).

Opposed to the English league, the other league dominating European cup competitions, Spain’s Primera Division, is only sending 59 players to the World Cup, of which alone 20 are representing “La Furia Roja”. But not only do the Spanish teams send less players to South Africa, they also only are represented in 15, less than half, of the teams in the tournament. Does that mean, that Spanish scouts don’t like to travel? Or is the buying power outside of teams like Barca and Real Madrid (and maybe Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico) so limited that the global reach for talent does not develop and teams rely on their youth squads and “known entities” such as 2nd tier South American stars to fill up their line ups?

With next year’s European cup season in mind, I of course wanted to know how many players are participating in the tournament from teams that have qualified for European cup play next year. We shall be curious whether the English teams will hit a wall at one point next year. Not only do they play one of the more exhausting schedules of any European league (20 team league, 2 cup competitions), but on average they are sending 2 more players per team to the World Cup than the next league.

Another thing jumping out at me is the fact that a large number of players sent by Spanish teams are from the league’s European Cup participants. This could further add to the theory that mainly the big teams in Spain have the financial breadth (by which means ever) to invest in national team players, independent of their nationality.

The difference between Germany and Italy is not very big, just half a player on average. But you can see that there is a discrepancy between the national team players in total for the league and those playing for teams qualified for European football. In the former, Germany is leading, in the latter case Italy is ahead. That might indicate a somewhat wider distribution of financial means in Germany, while Italy could be more “top heavy” in terms of monetary strength .

Last but not least, another data set:

Which teams are sending the most players?

… and to how many national squads, and how many to the “own” or “home” squad?


Edit on June 9th: spox-community user amicaro pointed me to mistake, which is hereby corrected: of course ManU has representatives in 4 national teams not one like the previous table stated. Also, please note that the cutoff is in this list is arbitrary, there’s a couple of other teams with 7 players and plenty with 6 and less, ManU I kept on the list, as their June 8th fifa.com data still lists Nani, so anybody using the original, unadjusted reference, will count 6 players from ManU.

… and that’s where I stop, but I really had to put my VfB into this text somewhere. Interestingly enough, there’s two completely different “foreign legion troups” in this list, seen from a model-for-success perspective, as you have Internazionale sending 10 players to the World Cup, none of them from Italy itself, and then you have Portsmouth, similarly with 8 cappers, again none playing for the Three Lions. Opposite to those teams you have the FC Germany Munich (ouch, blow to the stomach of my VfB Stuttgart fan-self) and FC Spain Barcelona (ouch, creating an identity crisis for many of my Barcelona/Catalan friends) and of course Panthinaikos Greece…

Other parts in this series:
part 2
part 3

Written by Dierk

June 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Posted in English, Football and me

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