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Moneyball, Soccer Style

Discussion in 'Society and Culture' started by SixofNine, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. SixofNine

    SixofNine Jedi Sage Staff Member

    The 2008 Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea, played at Luzhinski stadium in Moscow, was a classic. It went all the way to penalty kicks, with Man U winning when John Terry and Nicolas Anelka missed.

    Before the match the Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, met with a Basque economist who did moneyball-type analysis of soccer data, so when the match went to the shootout, Grant had the following data:

    1. Van der Sar (Man U goalkeeper) tends to dive to the kicker’s ‘natural side’ more often than most keepers did. This meant that when facing a right-footed kicker, the goalkeeper would usually dive to his own right, and when facing a left-footed kicker, to his own left. Chelsea would have a better chance to win the European Cup if their penalty takers kicked towards their unnatural side.

    2. A vast majority of the penalties Van der Sar stops are those kicked around the height between 1 and 1.5 meters. Therefore the penalty takers must always aim to hit it just on the ground or high up; never in mid-height .

    3. Ronaldo (on Man U at the time) often stops in the run-up to the ball. If he stops, there is an 85% chance he’ll kick to the right-hand side of the goalkeeper because he won’t be able to generate enough power after 120 minutes of football to score towards his left. When a keeper moved early, Ronaldo always scored. The key is to not move.

    4. The team that wins the toss has a 60% chance of winning, because there is too much pressure on the team going second.

    What the stats didn't count on is that Terry would slip in the mud when he took his shot and miss the goal completely. :) Also, as the excerpt from the article below points out, Anelka of Chelsea decided to go against his team's shootout strategy, and that was all she wrote. Here's the blow-by-blow account, followed by a youtube of all of the penalty shots so you can see for yourself:

    ethics likes this.
  2. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I love shit like this.

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