Sports Analytics in FIFA World Cup 2018!

People all around the world are currently exploring and implementing endless possibilities of Data Science and Analytics in numerous fields like retail, banking, ecommerce, healthcare, agriculture, aviation etc. Similar is the need of analytics in case of sports.

Sports analytics are a collection of relevant, historical, statistics that when properly applied with specific business intelligence tools can provide a competitive advantage to a team or individual. Through the collection and analysis of this data, Sports Analytics helps players, coaches and other staff to facilitate decision making both during and prior to the sporting event. This is mainly of two types:

  • On-field analytics: Deals with the improvement of on-field performance of players and teams by digging deep into the aspects of player performance and tactics etc.
  • Off-field analytics: Deals with the business side of sports as to what can be done to improve ticket sales, merchandise sales, fan engagement etc.

The #FIFAWorldCup fever 2018 has started spreading across the globe and we can only imagine the importance of pure play analytics in football or any sport for that matter.

As technology advanced through the years, data collection has also been very in depth and with relative ease. It provides football teams with simulation matches before the actual event. Better decision making has also facilitated sports gambling in the form of fantasy league, dream league etc. The importance of analytics in sports has also been depicted in the 2011 film “Moneyball”, where in the general manager of the team relies heavily on Analytics to build a competitive, profitable team on a minimal budget!

In recent reports, Goldman Sachs, one of the leading investment banking company has predicted Brazil as the favourite team to lift the world cup 2018. This was after building 2,00,000 predictive models purely out of past matches and player data combined with analytics. For the record, team Germany had their 12th man as Big data Analytics during the 2014 World Cup that helped them analyse their performance throughout which led them to being the champions!

Some major tools and technologies that help to crunch those numbers in sports analytics are:

VAR: Video Assistant Referee, where in the 32 teams will have stats tablets to see in-game positional data on players and the ball.

SAP: German based software company improved its technology called “SAP challenger insights”

which provides data driven insights on player’s attacking or defensive tendencies on a tab.

TABLEAU: A visualisation tool that helps chart out statistics, identify most valuable players and build balanced teams, streamline operations and engage fans.

SAS: SAS in sports helps to tap into different data sources and with its ETL technology, can analyse and provide well-structured and detailed fan data for targeted campaigning.

..and many more. So in conclusion, the combination of more and better data, better analytical tools along with better computing power has really helped in leveraging the big business of sports.  And while the FIFA WC 2018 is on, let’s sit back, enjoy the games and keep our predictions and analytical minds running!

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This article has been contributed by our Student Sambit Bhattacharya.

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