Friday, June 25, 2010

Should India Do Better?

According to the excellent book Why England Lose or Soccernomics in the United States, countries that have large populations and good economies should do well in international football. This brings the question, why have India only qualified for 1 World Cup, which they didn't even play in? India has a large population and a fairly good economy despite high poverty levels. What gives?
According to Why England Loses, and regression research done by the authors, twice the population is worth .1 goal, twice the GDP is worth .1 goal, and having twice the experience is worth .5 goals.
To tally the goal scoring, you figure out the ratio of, for example, population of country/population of opposition and multiply the coefficient for either population, GDP or experience. For population and GDP, the coefficient is .05, for experience, it is .25.
According to Russell Gerrard's database, between 1871 and 2001, India had played 244 international football matches. I will compare India with the country that has qualified the most for the World Cup, South Korea, and with Iran, who have qualified 3 times and won the Asian Cup 3 times.
India have a massive advantage in population, 1.2 goals. South Korea has .4 goal advantage in GDP and .6 in experience. India should win by .2 goals, meaning most games between the 2 should end in a draw. So we know India should draw with South Korea. Should they've qualified for the World Cup?
In the first round they lost to Lebanon 6-3 on aggregate; using the same method described earlier, India should be beating Lebanon by 14.5 goals, with a massive 13 of them coming from the superiority in population. Over 2 legs, that should be 29 goals, instead of losing by the 3 goals they did. Replacing Lebanon in Group 4, they should beat Uzbekistan at home (.67 goals for home field advantage) by 3.8 goals at home, and 2.43 goals away. Against Saudi Arabia
they should beat them at home by 2 goals, and win away by .7 goals (anything less than .5 is about a draw). Moving on to playing Singapore, which, having a small population and less experience than India, loses by 12.2 goals to India away and by 10.8 goals at home. India, having won all 6 games, have 18 points and a goal difference of 32.

They are then drawn into Group B, with South Korea, North Korea, Iran and the UAE.
We already know in a neutral venue they should beat South Korea by .2 goals. Adding home field advantage, they'll beat South Korea by .9 goals at home, but lose by .5 goals away, which is effectively a draw. Against North Korea, they should win by 3.7 goals at home and by 2.3 goals away. Against Iran they win by 1 goal at home, and draw away. Finally, against the UAE they should win by 9.8 goals at home and by 8.5 goals away. Tallying up the results, India would finish with 20 points and a goal difference of 25. If this happened, they would qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

India should do better. In Why England Lose, they were one of the underachievers based on population, GDP and experience. India can create a good football team if they create a good league, which they can do for cricket, as they did for the Indian Premier League. Based on this, India should become a powerhouse team in Asia, and could possibly win the World Cup in the future.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Best League In the World Series™: Oceania

Continuing the Best League In the World™ after a long break, we are on to Oceania.
Oceania is not a very competitive country footballing wise, having sent just 4 finalists to the World Cup.
In terms of entertainment, the Solomon Islands wins the crown for Oceania; with a low standard deviation and a high number of goals, it ranked first in Oceania.
The Table is here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

England: Antoher simile for "rubbish"

England drew 0-0 with Algeria, and were desperately poor. It was a distressing result, with many expecting England to play better against Algeria, who were not very good against Slovenia.
As this graph shows, England had a lot of passes in the midfield and back, but in the final third, but also a lot down the middle. Algeria, playing a 3-4-2-1 when in possession, 5-4-1 when not, had 5 players in the center, the 3 centre backs and 2 midfielders.
One reason the middle of the park was so congested was the positioning of Steven Gerrard. Gerrard was nominally the left midfield player, cutting inside for Ashley Cole to bomb forward. However, as the graphic below shows, instead of cutting in, he occupied the same area of space as Wayne Rooney, Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard.
In previous tournaments, one of England's problems was that Gerrard and Lampard couldn't play together (Is it no coincidence that in England's best performance of the last world cup, 2-2 against Sweden, Gerrard didn't start?). Under Capello, the problem remains, though, with Barry as the holding midfielder, neither has the responsibility to defend. Neither had a good game; as with the with rest of the England team, they were desperately poor, and the incident where Lampard failed to successfully pass to Gerrard 10 yards away inside the first 20 seconds set the tone for the whole match. The match was desperately callinh out for someone who could deliver an incisve pass, yet just as in the US game, Joe Cole sat on the bench and watched Shaun Wright-Phillips and Peter Crouch come on instead of him. Joe Cole has to start against Slovenia instead of Gerrard or Lampard. Capello might not like him because he cuts inside; yet Gerrard does the same thing and passes the ball better.
Another player who should start is Michael Carrick. He might not have had a great domestic season, but he and Joe Cole are the closes players England have to good technical players, and after the performance put in tonight, technicality is needed.

Credit is due where it's deserved: Algeria defended exceptionally well and made it difficult for England to break them down. They were looking for a point, with the possibility of getting a goal on the break. As stated earlier, playing a 3-4-2-1 meant that when England came down the middle, they were well prepared to defend.

England were extremely poor with the midfield too congested. They'll need to stretch play against Slovenia and include Joe Cole and Michael Carrick to provide incisive passing. Wayne Rooney will need to more of a factor, otherwise England will go home early.

Thanks to the Total Football 2010 app for the iPod touch for diagrams.