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Ranking Soccer Players By Following the Bouncing Ball

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the well-it-ain't-baseball dept.

Math 142

sciencehabit excerpts from an interesting report on statistics for soccer, in the stats-obsessed world of sports: "Only a handful of soccer ranking systems exist, most of which rely on limited information: the number of goals scored in a match, the number of goals assisted, and some indices of a match's difficulty and importance. ... So researchers turned to an unlikely source: social networks. Applying the kinds of mathematical techniques used to map Facebook friends and other networks, the team created software that can trace the ball's flow from player to player. As the program follows the ball, it assigns points for precise passing and for passes that ultimately lead to a shot at the goal. Whether the shot succeeds doesn't matter. Only the ball's flow toward the goal and each player's role in getting it there factors into the program's point system, which then calculates a skill index for each team and player."

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142 comments

Software to trace a ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607642)

News at 11.

Hey... As long as it is for such a worthy cause... (0, Troll)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608152)

Surely you are aware of the fact that tracing that ball will be only the first step in curing cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, poverty, hunger, energy crisis, global warming AND bringing the balance to the Force?
 

Re:Hey... As long as it is for such a worthy cause (2, Informative)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608992)

You must mean tracing your balls and palpating the region. It's the most effective way to detect testicular cancer and get early treatment. Perhaps this algorithm could socially map our manhood's movements to see if they are ever get heavier on either side. FOR SCIENCE (and health)!

I dunno... (-1, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609300)

I think I can speak for most Americans....

Who gives a fuck? It is only soccer.....

After, this IS a US centric site...

Re:I dunno... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32610646)

The rest of the world gives a fuck...unlike the sports that the Americans have made up just so they can be the best in the world at something.

Re:I dunno... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32610740)

I'm sure I speak for most of the rest of the world when I say: fuck you, you arrogant American cock-knocker. I'm sure you can take a small hit of time that you'd normally spend feeling important because American teams always win the World Series. Also, this is a geek-centric site more than it is US-centric.

Re:I dunno... (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611082)

I'm not a soccer fan but appreciate the World Cup. I'm sure the US would celebrate if it won the World Cup - it's quite an achievement.

Perhaps the US could ingratiate itself with other countries by becoming more involved in such events?

As has been posted already - the rest of the world is more than mildly interested in soccer (or 'football' as we call it in the UK - not to be confused with 'American football') - hence is it the most popular sport in the world. Worth a look-in maybe?

Re:I dunno... (2, Insightful)

ZeRu (1486391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611332)

Being a non-American, I'm not interested in baseball. But if this story was about baseball, I would simply ignore it instead of posting a dumb comment just for the sake of pissing off Americans.

Re:Hey... As long as it is for such a worthy cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609328)

Working Brazzers.com account:
brazzers4chan
cumbuckets

Try it before you call it fake. I have no idea why it hasn't been deactivated.

Re:Hey... As long as it is for such a worthy cause (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610560)

Even the creators of the Ignobel prize admit that some of the science that they're making fun of may one day turn out to be useful. Pascal was trying to prove 1=0 and therefore (in his own logic) God is infallible.. he failed, but in the process came up with loads of really useful mathematics and some decent philosophy to boot. Boole did the same thing and gave us boolean logic. Off the top of my head, the same science could vaguely (I'm just using this as an abstract example) be applied to Barnes Wallace's famous bouncing bomb which allowed the British to prove they were capable of hitting back against the Germans at a point where the Russians had given up all hope on the Alliance.

On the other hand... (2, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611380)

It might also be a completely useless study of a pointless topic.

Also, completely WRONG as the very first commenter to TFA puts it:

ponckk
a team... can play as never before, and still loose, if they don't score.
A team that plays very poorly, can score, and win.....

look at the world cup history, and the majority of soccer matches.

Look at the debut of spain in the world cup...

your software is really nice and the algorithm has to be great. but it doesn't apply in real life.
thats why there arn't many stats in soccer, that is why is simple...GET THE BALL IN, thats what counts.
And your algorithm is leaving that out immediatly
Today, 02:27:4

News for nerds? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607644)

How is this news for nerds? Go back to your shitty soccer jock site where you jerk off to sweaty dudes slapping each other's asses after kicking or hitting a ball.

Re:News for nerds? (2, Funny)

supertrinko (1396985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608004)

The fifa world cup, it infects everything. Especially those bloody vuvuzel-BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Re:News for nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609936)

I'm sorry, which sport were you talking about?

Um ... (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607656)

Points for not scoring? Isn't that the same as a woman telling you that she just wants to be friends because your friendship means more than a relationship would?

Re:Um ... (3, Interesting)

oblio_one (1182111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607678)

Not the same, if player A passes the ball to player B, who then blows an excellent set up, player A still gets credit for providing an excellent set up.

Re:Um ... (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607704)

You don't get points for how many yards you move a Football (American), but that's still an important statistic in analyzing players.

This is the same sort of thing for soccer, except with a clever algorithm.

Re:Um ... (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607892)

But you get 1st downs, which has nothing comparable in soccer. It also can put you in field goal range, which has no parallel in soccer. In US football, the team with the most offensive yards almost always wins. Does soccer have a similar outcome? And in US football, yards are only counted FORWARD. If the fullback runs 30 yards left, then 30 yards right, then is tackled on the line of scrimmage, he has gained exactly zero yards. Comparing to US football isn't a fruitful exercise, they are just too different.

NFL football is more like a blend of chess and raw violence. It is a series of calculated moves, not a continuous flow of play. Not better or worse, just not really comparable.

Re:Um ... (4, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607942)

NFL football is more like a blend of chess and raw violence.

If NFL football is chess, soccer is go. The difference? It actually requires talent to be good at goh, whereas a supercomputer can beat anyone at chess. Skilled athletes excel at soccer, overweight drug addicts who should have failed out of high school win football games.

Re:Um ... (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611104)

now now, soccer players are not athletes, they are artists.

Re:Um ... (3, Funny)

Eevee (535658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611408)

If NFL football is chess, soccer is go.

I don't recall Go masters diving to the ground and writhing in fake agony every time the opponent's hand gets them.

Re:Um ... (2, Funny)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32612014)

You've obviously never seen an Italian Go master at the top of his game.

Re:Um ... (0, Troll)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611496)

Our best athletes play football, baseball and basketball and our third-tier athletes still manage to hold their own in the World Cup.

Of course, you never know who was truly better in soccer because a 1-0 game can't be considered to be anything but dumb luck. Really, can you really prove that in a soccer game they don't just kick the ball back and forth endlessly until someone happens to be lined up for that one shot?

Re:Um ... (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609726)

Yes, in general the team with the longest possession, most corner shots and most penalties (in an offensive, goal-able position) for them usually wins. There are already a few comparable statistics in place to gauge whole teams, but estimating the "game value" of a certain player is often rather hard. A player may be "valuable" just by being on the field without a single ball contact. There are players who have to be covered tightly so they CANNOT touch the ball and cannot be a sensible place to pass to, because there is ALWAYS an opponent with him. His value lies in the ability to tear apart the defense of the opponent because he has to have a watchdog, often two. He will not be counted as "valuable" in this new scoring system, even though he is probably one of the most valuable players in the team.

It's like using yards carried for football and considering the offense line useless because they don't really carry the ball anywhere.

Re:Um ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32610438)

Yes. This system is not perfect, but the system it replaces does not handle the case you listed either. If you have a better system, please describe it.

Re:Um ... (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610582)

Football already has the measurement of yards built in. In futbol this measurement is not used in the game so looking at it this way is interesting.

Re:Um ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32611468)

No, hand-egg have this measurement, football haven't.

Re:Um ... (2, Informative)

Jazzbunny (1251002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611124)

NFL football is more like a blend of chess and raw violence.

No, chess boxing [guardian.co.uk] is more like blend of chess and raw violence.

Re:Um ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607716)

It really isn't up to a midfielder/playmaker whether or not the final shot in an attack he helped create will be a good one or not. Hence the only fair way to evaluate that aspect of a player's game is to disregard whether the attack leads to a goal or not.

Re:Um ... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607738)

Points for not scoring?

Well, as TFA mentions, "I am from Portugal, and I was disappointed in how we played Tuesday," he says. (His team tied 0-0 with Ivory Coast.) "I'm very curious to see what score the program gives us -- maybe we played better than I thought."

Sorry, dude, no matter what the program says, the result is still 0-0.

Re:Um ... (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607800)

But that could be because both teams played AMAZINGLY well.

Or it could be because one player messed up a lot on each team (the one that actually shot).

Basically, this is just software that analyzes individual players performance leading up to shots - assists. Their JOB is to get the ball up to the striker. Their job is not necessarily to actually score. The scorers, though, get all the glory. Perhaps this software will help that?

Re:Um ... (0)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608480)

But that could be because both teams played AMAZINGLY well.

Any football fan will tell you that when two teams play AMAZINGLY well the result will be more like 5-5 rather than 0-0.

Zero goals is much more often due to a shitty attack rather than an awesome defense.

Re:Um ... (4, Insightful)

Viski (1647721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609918)

Any football fan will tell you that when two teams play AMAZINGLY well the result will be more like 5-5 rather than 0-0.

I strongly disagree. There is much more than offense to consider in a good game of football. If the game results 5-5 it is rather clear that both defenses have failed at their job. Even a game ending 0-0 can be extremely interesting to watch for a football connoisseur. Football is not just about making goals, it's also about not conceding them.

Re:Um ... (0, Troll)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611010)

Your talking statistically. Statistically what the score should be is irrelevant. Yes, NORMALLY the score will be 5-5. But this single game may actually be an outlier.

Re:Um ... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610244)

Maybe the analysis it performs is better than the impression given by the article (yes, I RTFA, apologies), but it seems that it would give all the glory to the strikers and midfielders and undervalue the defenders and keeper, whose job is more about keeping the ball out of their net than getting it to the striker.

Re:Um ... (1)

FredMenace (835698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608526)

Soccer is a game of statistics. Get the ball close to the goal, and your chances of scoring go up. Whip a cross into the box or slip a ball through the defense, and there's a chance a teammate will be in the right place to manage to kick it toward the goal. Take a shot on target, and there's a chance it will get by the goalkeeper.

So anything that increases the likelihood of a shot on goal is increasing the likelihood of scoring, even if it's not the final step in the process, and even if it doesn't happen to go in this time. (And conversely for preventing balls from being in likely scoring positions against your team.)

Re:Um ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609544)

Let me guess: you don't watch much soccer, do you?

Re:Um ... (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608966)

Points for not scoring? Isn't that the same as a woman telling you that she just wants to be friends because your friendship means more than a relationship would?

No, it's like giving a guy points for how many numbers he gets and how many hot chicks actually flirt back with him. Then you can see who's better with the ladies even if you're comparing two Slashdotters and the scoreline would typically be a nil-all draw.

Speaking of Bouncing Balls... (0, Troll)

II Xion II (1420223) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607684)

I wonder how high Green ranks.

Re:Speaking of Bouncing Balls... (1)

bmsleight (710084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608136)

How is this a troll ?

Re:Speaking of Bouncing Balls... (1)

skelterjohn (1389343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608440)

We've got some native English(tm) speakers.

incomplete metrics (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607690)

Of course, this is an incomplete metric for player worth.

How about off-ball activity that contributes? Moving across a zone or defender to clear space for someone who actually handles the ball? What about the guy who makes a brilliant cut but doesn't get served well by a teammate, so never handles the ball?

What about defense?

Never mind the fact that this metric would be biased against Italian league players, where ball control and quality opportunities is more important than number of shots. You could game this system very easily by cranking shots from 30 yards.

Soccer doesn't lend itself well to statistical analysis of players. That's one of the things that makes it a beautiful sport and fun to discuss, IMO.

Re:incomplete metrics (5, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607734)

Moving across a zone or defender to clear space for someone who actually handles the ball?

Handle the ball? Someone like Thierry Henry?

Re:incomplete metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607848)

You must be Irish

Re:incomplete metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607948)

Or "El Diego".
No, we've _still_ not forgiven him...

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

a_fuzzyduck (979684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609252)

Or Joe Jordan perhaps....

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611128)

Oh, boy, that was funny... My proverbial hat to you, sir!

Re:incomplete metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32611494)

Someone Tweeted this the other day, made me laugh:

France are playing in the World Cup today, or as I like to call them, Ireland.

Re:incomplete metrics (3, Interesting)

timothyf (615594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607836)

Defense seems like it'd be easy to solve, just add a metric that counts number of times a player gains possession of the ball from the other team or otherwise interferes with a pass or goal.

Re:incomplete metrics (2, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608536)

The problem is, the best defense is often one where a player is so well marked no one even tries to pass it to him.

Also, how do you "interfere with a goal"? It's either a goal or it isn't and if it is then the interference sure didn't do much.

Re:incomplete metrics (4, Interesting)

HolyCoitus (658601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608750)

Defense is much harder than that. If I shut someone down and take their angles and force them to pass the ball backwards, I get 0 points. If I go for a tackle from a terrible angle and get blown by, I get the same. Even if you take away points, it's not able to count marking someone or positional play shutting things down. It just rewards defenders who are hard tacklers or good at poking a ball free.

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610516)

Actual Football Player just owned the typical slashtitude. Right on!

Re:incomplete metrics (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607914)

What about defense?

From the journal article: "We take into account defensive efficiency by letting each player start a number of paths proportional to the number of balls that he recovers during the match." However, you're right about movement off the ball.

Re:incomplete metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608068)

What about defense?

More pointedly, what about the goalkeeper? He'd basically be considered worthless by this.

Re:incomplete metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608446)

There's already a good statistic for goal keepers. The block-to-shot ratio.

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608552)

It's a weird system anyway. The outcome of a match is important and so are the results during the season/tournament.

A simpler metric would be to assign the points for a match (0,1 or 3) to each individual player and then divide by number of matches played. The result would tell something about a player's effectiveness compared to his team mates, other footballers or even himself over the years (like whether he got better or whether a transfer was a good one).

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609206)

A simpler metric would be to assign the points for a match (0,1 or 3) to each individual player and then divide by number of matches played. The result would tell something about a player's effectiveness compared to his team mates, other footballers or even himself over the years (like whether he got better or whether a transfer was a good one).

Only if team makeups vary frequently. If a player plays on the same, fairly static team for a long time, then this system can't tell the difference between the player being bad, and the team being bad despite the player. Of course, you could say that sticking with a losing team for a long time is a sign of a bad player...

Re:incomplete metrics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608826)

I agree, basing the judgement on how the player handles the ball is missing most of what really goes on.
Its not all about the ball.

Things are a bit more obvious in American Football, its obvious there that many players are never intended to interact with the ball at all. Instead their job is to block the other teams players and keep them out of the action, or to create a distraction, or to keep the other sides best players out of an area of the field due to threat of injury etc.

A player may never touch the ball all season, but they may also be keeping the other sides best player out of the game which is just as valuable as being the scorer.

Re:incomplete metrics (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609130)

How about off-ball activity that contributes? Moving across a zone or defender to clear space for someone who actually handles the ball? What about the guy who makes a brilliant cut but doesn't get served well by a teammate, so never handles the ball?

Good point. As someone said below, an excellent defender may never get anywhere near the ball, because he has his mark so completely shut down that no-one ever passes to them.

As for Italian league players - the system also rewards control, doesn't it? Strings of successful passes etc? So their style of play where they pissfart around with the ball in the back line for half the game would still be scored well IF they then took those long chains of controlled passes and converted them into attempts on goal. And if they didn't, then that long chain of controlled passes was pretty useless, wasn't it?

Re:incomplete metrics (1, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609406)

Never mind the fact that this metric would be biased against Italian league players, where falling on the ground and begging for a foul when another player is within arm's reach is more important than number of shots.

FTFY.

offensive, isn't it? (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607712)

assigns points for precise passing and for passes that ultimately lead to a shot at the goal
  calculates a skill index for each team and player.

Wow, that's really going to tell you about a players defensive skills, isn't it.

Not that those could possibly important in a game where usually only one or two balls make it to the net the whole game. I mean, it's not like defense would play much of a role there.

Re:offensive, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607828)

This problem could be offset somewhat by assigning a player points for taking control of the ball from the other team. It wouldn't be perfect, but it's an improvement.

Re:offensive, isn't it? (1)

AdamTheBastard (532937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608330)

This problem could be offset somewhat by assigning a player points for taking control of the ball from the other team. It wouldn't be perfect, but it's an improvement.

You could also scale the points you award to the defensive player based on the number of points awarded in the current 'play' as well as the points of the passing player and potential receiving players. The idea being that the more touches on the ball one team has, the more progress the ball has made towards the goal and the skill level of the last opponent on the ball, the skill of the players who may have received the pass; all contribute to the importance of taking control of the ball.

Re:offensive, isn't it? (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608772)

Oh hell no.... That would make Italy and Greece look like hyperaggressive teams, when in reality they are turtle teams.

Bouncing ball? (2, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607740)

"If God had meant football to be played in the air he would have put grass in the sky" - Brian Clough

Re:Bouncing ball? (2, Insightful)

iNaya (1049686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607982)

In rugby, it seems that the grass does indeed spend more time in the air than on the ground.

Flawed metric (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607762)

Doesn't measure defensive contributions and doesn't account for stronger defense against known good players. Someone remind these people that soccer is a team sport.

Re:Flawed metric (3, Insightful)

gregfortune (313889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607814)

It is less flawed than the current methods mentioned in the summary. In fact, it does MORE to measure the team effort than a metric like goals scored. This is what we might call an incremental improvement. /facepalm

Re:Flawed metric (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608460)

Of course it measures "defensive contributions". A "defensive contribution" is one where a person takes the ball away from the opposing team. Guess what: that counts towards a "handling point".

Whether the shot succeeds doesn't matter. (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608408)

Say whaa? Yeah, I guess with the scores always so low, you gotta find something to hype.. I think they should light the ball on fire...

Fantasy Leagues? (1)

pPnf (449922) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608428)

I assume there is already some kind of decent metrics for rating players to enable fantasy leagues - the sort where average joe picks a bunch of players (from all teams) that he likes, and compares his "fantasy team" to all the other average joes who choose to spend their time doing the same. What metrics do these fantasy leagues use?

Aussie rules football (AFL) has very specific player scoring, developed from the work of Champion Data [championdata.com.au] (not a large amount of detail there). These data and metrics are now used by every offical team, commentators and form the basis of most fantasy league scores. On the local news site [heraldsun.com.au] which runs the largest fantasy league competition there is a lot more about how points are awarded, and performances of players through the season (about halfway through season 2010 at the moment).

Looking even more in depth, creating heat maps [swinburne.edu.au] from player data, are some PHD students at my old university

I would have thought these kinds of data and analysis would be even more advanced in a sport that has much more history and far more fans around the world than AFL?

Re:Fantasy Leagues? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608716)

Actually football (okay, soccer...) fantasy leagues follow quite simple metrics, it's just about goals, assists, yellow and red cards.
Some system takes into account only individual stats, others also team stats (eg, a bonus for a defender if his real team doesn't concede goals).
There may be some more or less convoluted bonus and combo rules (say, all your forwards score goals and all your defenders' teams don't concede...) but that's pretty much it.
Here's an example:
http://fantasy.premierleague.com/M/help.mc?category=scoring

Stats and metrics really don't belong to soccer, it's a game of subjective evaluations.

In fact, here in Italy (but I guess it's the same in other countries) sports newspapers evaluate players with grades after every match, to give a sense of how any of them performed.
You get a table with grades given by the journalist, in a scale from 1 to 10 just like in our school system, and our "fantacalcio" games are based on those numbers (plus all the various bonus and malus).

Pretty subjective, but that's part of the fun of soccer, the discussions about performances and matches are neverending as there aren't objective stats to call in to support your views. =)

Re:Fantasy Leagues? (1)

Viski (1647721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610000)

Actually, Fifa is currently running a World Cup fantasy league, which features rather diverse scoring system [fifa.com] for individual players. Players are awarded points for e.g. offensive and defensive action, scoring, and keeping a clean sheet. The scoring is also dependent on player's position on the field. It's not a perfect system, but works okay. IMHO, the system favours offensive wing backs, since they're often active in the offense, but are also egligible for the large bonus for shutting out the opponent. Of course, there are a limited number of players in the world who can successfully contribute both offensively and defensively at the wing. It's not an easy position to play.

Sounds rather slanted (4, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608824)

Under those circumstances, Spain played an amazing game against Switzerland this week: Hundreds of accurate passes that ended in shots. More passes in one half than most teams make in an entire game. And yet, they didn't score, and lost the game against a team that had 25% ball position, but actually managed to score.

It would also mean that every Italian national team from the last 30 years happens to be terrible, despite their world championship titles.

Re:Sounds rather slanted (5, Insightful)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610428)

Spain *are* a much better team than Switzerland and this system would show that. Have them play a thousand times, and Spain would win the vast majority. So I'm not sure I see your point.

You do make a good point about Italy. However I'd be interested to see what the system actually says about Italy before condemning it.

The article is just plain wrong (4, Informative)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608834)

If you've watched any English match in the past decade, you will see there are a slew of stats. When a player is on screen, stats are displayed such as: number of passes, % of passes completed, assists, shots, shots on target, tackles, total km run, and more.

On the other hand, as we've already had these stats for a decade or two we know how irrelevant they are. There are plenty of players that run around waving for the ball and when they get it simply knock it back or sideways in a manner that contributes little. They have great stats and may touch it in the build up to a goal but are far from being the architects.

Using the same software to analyse companies and creative team, mentioned in the article, that is a joke. As is the original researcher trying to understand why his team isn't winning when it only has one decent player.

Phillip.

Aussie Rules already does this (1)

RuralJuror (1836050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608918)

There is a company called Champion Data that currently does a similar thing for Australian Rules football. They generate player rankings based on a whole range of minutae. A pass is worth next to nothing if it is a short distance to an open teammate in the backline but worth a lot if it is a long accurate pass to a player in a dangerous position - and the player gets credit regardless of what happens next, so if they pass to a teammate in good position who fluffs the shot at goal, the passer still gets credit. The points are also standardised across matches so that player performance can be compared even though some matches are fast and furious and some are slow and boring. The resulting rankings often bear little relation to the regular stats because they take into account quality of possession as well as quantity. I have long thought soccer has a dearth of this sort of analysis. They tend to focus on stuff like % time of possession. Often this just means a team has been knocking the ball about in their own half, which the opposition doesn't mind at all. And "shots on target" includes both a powerful strike from close range and a puny long range effort that the goalkeeper has no problem gathering. I'm sure if the Americans cared more about soccer they'd be all over this. Look at what they've done with baseball - the statistics are substantially more engaging than the actual game.

In other big soccer news: (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608988)

This is a must-watch for all soccer fans:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xLn-X8YJRg [youtube.com]

For the benefit of World Cup viewers (4, Funny)

DuranDuran (252246) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609298)

For the benefit of World Cup viewers, this may seem more familiar:

"Only a handful ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ exist, most ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ information: the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ match, the number ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ a match's ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ So researchers ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Applying ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ the ball's ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ ultimately ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ ball's flow toward the goal ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ for each team and player."

Re:For the benefit of World Cup viewers (1)

eeeuh (165197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610680)

No no, that's the World _Series_ you're talking about ;)

Re:For the benefit of World Cup viewers (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611480)

Is that really different from watching coverage of American football?

Running play, gains 4 yards, down at the 46. [1 minutes of ads] Passing play, incomplete, no gain. [1 minutes of ads] Passing play, complete for 15 yards. First down at the 31. [3 minutes of ads] ...

At least with World Cup matches for the vast majority of the time something is going on on the field that could reasonably be described as athletic competition.

Re:For the benefit of World Cup viewers (2, Informative)

iB1 (837987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611856)

I think he's referring to the incessant drone of the vuvuzelas, rather than the match being boring! They do sound like a swarm of bees!

Call it right (1, Redundant)

obdulio1950 (1084823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609366)

Please, stop using the word soccer. The real name of the game is FOOTBALL. It goes for that name in all the world but the US (even in Italy, even if there it is also called Calcio) What americans call Football is called in the rest of the world American Football or US Footbal. Regarding this scoring method, how would a player with an outsanding dribbling like Garrincha be rated?

Re:Call it right (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609526)

Please, stop using the word soccer. The real name of the game is FOOTBALL. It goes for that name in all the world but the US [...]

It's fairly commonly called Soccer in Australia as well. Though at least here we have 3 other "football" codes that are (more) popular as a reasonable justification.

Re:Call it right (2, Insightful)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610296)

There is only a handful of countries that need to distinguish between different football games. Most of the world has only one such a game, the one played in the World Cup right now, so calling it football is right in almost every country.

Re:Call it right (3, Insightful)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609904)

I call that other game "American Rugby," since that's what it is.

Re:Call it right (0, Troll)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610716)

I think the correct term is "Handegg" as opposed to "Football".

Re:Call it right (1)

JayJay.br (206867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611702)

Mod parent funny.

You, sir, made my day.

Re:Call it right (1)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610906)

Even though I'm not a fan of football, I never call it soccer (which is slang for "association football").

Meanwhile, I'm always puzzled why American football is called "football" at all, since the whole point of football is that you kick a ball with your feet, you don't carry it. Having said that, rugby is also short for "rugby football", and American football is a derivation of rugby.

I don't really understand American football; it seems far more complicated and much slower than rugby.

This is REALLY REALLY Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609528)

It may be the dawn of a new age not only in football but in other sports alike.
Having a concrete mathmatical tool to rank your players will be an invaluable asset to any future team manager.

Deep analysys of team play and players movements...

Its a foobtall theorycrafter's dream.

When you want social network, why not do it right? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609770)

Have the spectators estimate the player's worth. There's an old saying, everyone would be the better coach, even more than the better president. When you listen to soccer enthusiasts, they all know by far more about how much the players can and cannot do than the idiot coach that put the idiot up again while ignoring that spectator favorite.

Yes, these players won't be as "good". Most likely not. But let's look at the bottom of the reason for this ranking. Why do we want to rank players anyway? To find out how much we should pay them. And what makes a player valuable? No, not the goals he shoots. The amount of people he attracts to come to the stadium. Who cares about goals? People want to see interesting games! And while Italy and Germany are probably amongst the best teams of the world currently, they play horribly unattractive soccer games. Very defensive, very little action. That's not interesting! The interesting part about soccer games is the goals! Everyone wants to see goals! Would I buy a ticket for a game of Italy? Not even if I was Italian!

But there's always players that make games interesting because they move the game, because they create interesting moments, because they fight for the ball and then carry it towards the enemy goal. That's what people want to see! And these players are then also the ones that bring people to the stadium, who gets people to buy tickets and merchandize.

So if you want to use "social networks" to gauge player value, do it the right way. Ask the one whose money you want!

Re:When you want social network, why not do it rig (1)

Cidolfas (1358603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610118)

And while Italy and Germany are probably amongst the best teams of the world currently, they play horribly unattractive soccer games. Very defensive, very little action.

Wait, what? Have you ever watched a German team play? They didn't score their 4 goals off the counter....

For that matter, the Italians don't really play defensively until they're ahead by a few goals, or until late in the game.

Bouncing balls... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609808)

I thought it was going to be a story about testicles...

Stir it up! (1, Troll)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609902)

Not a huge fan. Nevertheless a movement should be started to address the game played and enjoyed by billions of people as "football". IMHO there's "football" and there's "American football".

Not trolling, just plating a seed in the hope a sporty /.er will .... Oh forget it.

With that system... (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610108)

I definitely do not want to be goalie for my team. Or maybe my team doesn't want me to be their goalie.

The only important stat is winning (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610322)

Nobody really cares at about how well a team plays if that team never wins anything. Or: nobody cares how bad a team plays if it wins a trophy. You can play awfully but if you win the World Cup all your country will celebrate at least until the next day.

A metric could be more interesting for single players but again: if the computer says that you're good but you never win anything maybe your not so good. Getting in the right team at the right moment is also an important skill.

Prozone (4, Interesting)

maharg (182366) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610360)

The top UK teams (and others around the world I guess..) all use Prozone - http://www.prozonesports.com/ [prozonesports.com]

From what I have seen at the International Broadcasting Convention http://www.ibc.org/ [ibc.org] some TV production companies do a fair bit of of markup on their footage too

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