Monday, 23 June 2014

Networking the World Cup

The latest in a line of attempts to ‘measure’ the world cup in a quasi-academic fashion comes from The New York Times, where graphics editor Gregor Aisch has developed a series of network diagrams to show the ties between clubs and countries. In his latest diagram, Aisch aims to show how many clubs have two or more players at the world cup playing for different teams.  The logic seems to be that clubs with the widest diversity in terms of national team representation (i.e. Man Utd and Real Madrid) sit in the middle of the diagram, while clubs with less diversity sit towards the edge.  The diagram can also be used backwards, to show the clubs that contributed players to each national team.  The diagram is relatively intense, but some countries, such as Iran and Australia, qualified with fewer players at well networked clubs than most.

It would be tempting to say that this is a predictor of form based on Australia already being out of the tournament, and Iran having only one point so far - but Australia will
face much better networked Spain in tonight’s dead-rubber. Perhaps the explanatory power of network diagrams in football can only go so far, on the pitch at least?

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