Soccer Stats

How I do my research


I’d like to delve a little bit on how I do my soccer analysis. I think the best place to start is with this star-graph piece:

Almost all of the raw data comes from a company called Opta. They do all of the live tracking stuff which ends up getting post-processed by Stats Bomb, 4-4-2, Michael Caley, and a couple of others. Michael Caley’s xG maps are probably the most accessible and well distributed work outside of generic heat maps and crossing maps. Caley’s stuff can be found on his twitter feeds:
He does a good weekly podcast with another stats nerd named Michael Goodman called Double Pivot. Caley’s voice and speaking style are stuttery and grating, but he’s really smart and earnest.
I’ve tried a few other soccer podcasts and they’re mostly terrible including the Spurs-centric Wheeler Dealer Radio. Most of them are 2-6 guys taking turns shitting on average players and making pleas for the manager of their choice to sign/start/drop Player X.
Soccer stats are in their infancy. At least the public face of it. There are a couple of guys doing analytic videos breaking down how players take space but I haven’t seen anything on the regular so I can’t remember where I’ve seen any of it. There’s so much room for smart analysis of formations, player movement on and off the ball, and strategic breakdowns. Dozens of times I’ve wished that I had an easy way to capture a quick, high quality clip from my DVR as I’m watching the game. It would turn my 1-hour email into a 6 hour email but it would open up the conversation so much more.
When I come across the good stuff I’ll pass it along.