Big Data in the Beautiful Game

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Baseball has Moneyball, basketball has PER, and even ice hockey has Corsi. Fútbol? Well, what the beautiful game lacks in advanced statistics it makes up for in sheer marketing pull. Nearly one billion people tuned into watch the final of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. As a result the quadrennial event represents a potential goldmine, with this year’s edition in Brazil expected to become the largest sports betting event in history.While neither die-hard nor casual fans have been pulled in by the analytical revolution that has overtaken other major professional sports leagues, the numbers game on the pitch has enjoyed it boom as a result of the iGaming industry. A correlation exists between the increased interest in using mathematics to explain football outcomes with a relaxation of sports betting laws in the UK. As a result there are a few key metrics that have been developed to keep in mind for kickoff time.

Total Shots Ratio

TSR or Total Shots Ratio is a measure of whether a team is underperforming or over performing based on its ability to dominate a game. Teams with higher TSR values take more shots and allow less shots than their opponents on a consistent basis. Nations that have a lower TSR and a higher point total may see their luck come to an end, while on the other side teams that have been outperforming opponents only to see the results not correlate represent undervalued assets. Another situation in which TSR could prove useful is understanding talented teams that have underperformed on the biggest stage on countless occasions. It’d be worth analyzing the TSR of historic underachievers and comparing that with World Cup qualifying results.

Game States

This concept is fairly simple, and fairly applicable to in-play betting. The behavior of a team changes drastically depending on the score of the game, and whether they are tied, in the lead, or trailing. What game states track is how the action on the field changes based on score. Consequently, when placing a bet mid-way through a game it is important to understand how individual teams respond in certain situations. Be careful, however, as game-to-game discrepancies are very likely because game states analyzes behavior on the macro level.

It’s a foregone conclusion that on July 13th a large portion of the world will stop what it’s doing and stare at the spectacle in front of them – nearly 1 billion people tuned in to the 2010 Final. For many others, however, the real game is happening concurrently on their computers, their mobile devices, and in their minds.