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Data & the Euros – The Facts and Figures behind the Euros

Category: General

With the Euros now here and Irish hopes building by the day, the question gets asked “what are our chances?”
Well unfortunately, if going by FIFA’s rankings our chances aren’t too high!

Currently ranked 33rd in the world, we are the lowest of the home nations at the tournament. We find are ourselves in a group containing the highest ranked European team, Belgium, 2nd in the world, historical giants of football the Italians 12th and placed just above the Swedes (35th). But this is football and not too many will be paying too close attention to FIFA’s disputed ranking system.

While the above stats will be a footnote for commentators and couch pundits alike, millions of football fans over the next few weeks will be consuming vast amounts of football related data and statistics coming at them from all angles, from TV, to radio, newspapers, magazines, social media and of course second hand in pubs and clubs European wide.

It’s not just the general public either that will be eating up these stats either. Statisticians are part and parcel of top level football management teams these days just as much as the old school kit man and physios. They will be providing data to management and player’s, pre and post game, during half time intervals and even to the manager in game. If a game goes to a penalty shootout you can bet there will be a man with a tablet somewhere on the fringes of the pitch offering statistical information on the opposition.

But where is all this data coming from? Well it’s the giants of sports data collection in the form of Opta and Prozone that will be providing a large portion of it.

From the advanced Prozone3 technology which can see 10 cameras strategically placed around a stadium to provide detailed 2D or 3D representations of the action on a pitch, to Opta’s team of skilled analysts that carefully dissect a game in real-time, providing incredible detailed live data including x and y coordinates of where the action occurs on the pitch, to millions as it all unfolds.

It’s Opta that provides statistical data for the likes of television sport providers Sky Sports, BBC MOTD and BT Sport. Whose data is also used in infographics in daily papers and populating football clubs websites, second screen apps etc. . .
When you see a heat map of play, directions of penalty hits and misses, where on the pitch shots were taken, number of passes completed etc., this is most likely been supplied by Opta via live meta tagged XML feeds. These live raw data feeds are taken by the likes of television service providers and are fed into specially developed applications which return slick graphical representations for the football loving audience to absorb.

Vast amounts of complex data feeds are been returned to us the audience, in clear, concise and user friendly graphical representations that people of all ages and backgrounds eagerly lap up. Maybe we can learn from sport, using it as a template of how we ought to be bringing our own daily business data to life. Data that we are pulling from our SAP, SalesForce & ERP systems up and down the country!

Rankings and stats may not weigh heavily in Irelands favour but then again this is tournament football. None of the statistician’s would have been predicting Greece to claim top prize in Euro 2004 for example. Also with Leicester City upsetting the odds and claiming the Premier League this season, maybe just maybe, this is the year of the underdog once again. COYBIG!

Points of Reference:

Opta Sports:
http://www.optasports.com/
Prozone Sports:
http://prozonesports.stats.com/football/
FIFA Rankings:
http://int.soccerway.com/teams/rankings/fifa/?ICID=TN_03_05_01
Squawka: (A great site feeding from Opta, to in turn to feed the most football hungry of us)
http://www.squawka.com/football-stats

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