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Papers from the CIES Football Observatory

An article (in French) presenting Euro 2012 teams’ strength is to be found at the following address.

The Football Observatory also publishes daily statistics on the Swiss radio and television’s -Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS)- official website.

Other recently published articles are accessible on the web: Football Analytics and Successful Recruitment and Understanding European Football.

Messi named CIES Football Observatory big-5 league player of the season

CIES Football Observatory’s rankings classify players according to their pitch productivity per minute played in the following areas of the game: shooting, chance creation, take on, distribution and recovery. For the general index, each indicator was weighted according to the strength of the correlation with points achieved by clubs at the end of the season.

Aggregated at team level, all of the Football Observatory indicators are significantly correlated to club results for all leagues and seasons. This ensures their relevance and objectivity. Player pitch statistics are provided by our partner company Opta.

Other big-5 league gold medal winners for the 2011-2012 season are as follows:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF) for shooting

Mesut Özil (Real Madrid CF) for chance creation

Franck Ribéry (FC Bayern München) for take on

Xavi Hernández (FC Barcelona) for distribution

Arturo Vidal (Juventus FC) for recovery

At league level, the Most Productive Players (general index) were as follows:

Lionel Messi (Spain)

David Silva (England)

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

Franck Ribéry (Germany)

Anderson Nenê (France)

Lionel Messi is also the Football Observatory’s most decorated player of the season. In total, he achieves two gold, three silver and one bronze medal. Other multi award winners are Franck Ribéry, Andrea Pirlo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernández and Mathieu Valbuena (4 medals each).

The complete list of the CIES Football Observatory medal winners can be found in the special edition of our Big-5 Weekly Post, which is available for free download on our website.

Annual Review pre-ordering

Further analysis will be presented in August, when the CIES Football Observatory will publish the 7th edition of its Annual Review. The electronic version of the specific section on player performance will be already available by mid-June. This will allow interested parties accessing this essential information prior to the opening of the summer transfer window.

The player performance section notably includes rankings which highlight the best performing footballers when compared to their team-mates. This is particularly useful to identify relatively unknown potential signings. The whole section can be obtained by pre-ordering the full CIES Football Observatory’s Annual Review at a cost of Є299 + postage.

To order or for further information, please contact us at: ootball.observatory@cies.ch

Big-5 league season predictions: a contrasting picture


Contrary to 2010/11, when three out of the five champions were correctly forecast, this ratio was 0% for the 2011/12 season. However, the final appraisal is not completely negative. Indeed, three forecasted champions finished 2nd (Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain). From the expected champions, the true disappointments came from Inter Milan (6th) and Champions League winner Chelsea FC (6th).
Moreover, three league champions out of five belonged to a narrow circle of “three-star” teams, for which our model had detected a concrete possibility of winning the title (Manchester City, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund). Another league winner, Juventus FC, was also forecast to finish on the podium (3th place), while the remaining one, Montpellier HSC, was indicated as a possible surprise team.

Top Three

Our model forecast 10 of the 15 teams that finished the season on the podium in their respective championship. Moreover, two out of the five remaining teams are among those whose quality of play during the two preceding seasons convinced us to classify them as possible surprise teams: Montpellier and Arsenal. This confirms the relevance of pitch performance indicators developed by the CIES Football Observatory on the basis of data provided by our partner company Opta.
Ultimately, only Schalke 04, Valencia CF and Udinese Calcio have confounded our predictions by finishing third. With the exception of Chelsea FC and Inter FC, no team that was predicted to finish on the podium finished lower than fifth place (Olympique Lyonnais 4th, Málaga CF 4th, Bayer Leverkusen 5th).

Most positive and negative gaps

The most positive negative gap between rank estimated and finally achieved was for the Spanish side Villarreal CF (-13 ranks compared to our prediction), followed by three other “two-star” teams that could not avoid relegation: AJ Auxerre (-12), Bolton Wanderers (-9) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (-9).
Conversely, the most positive gaps were for “one-star” teams Levante UD (+13 ranks compared to our prediction), Borussia Mönchengladbach (+11), FC Parma (+11, which was considered as a possible surprise team) and Newcastle United (+10).
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From a prediction perspective, this appraisal shows that the statistical analysis of the demographic profile of teams at the start of the season provides valuable projections. However, it also indicates that numerous other factors, some of which are impossible to forecast and measure, should be taken into account to help determine more accurately winning teams.
While aware of the evident limits of the purely statistical procedures followed, we will continue working to improve our models – and continue to enjoy the project as we follow and analyse this fascinating game!

Big-5 Weekly Post - Issue 10

The CIES Football Observatory is pleased to inform you that a new edition of the Big-5 Weekly Post is available to download for free on our website. The latest issue considers the subject of big-5 league experience (average number of matches in the big-5 during career for players fielded).

Highest / lowest big-5 league experience, per league (last week-end)

English Premier League 143 / Spanish Liga 115

Highest / lowest big-5 league experience, per club (last week-end)

Milan AC (ITA) 285 / Norwich City (ENG) 24

Best players, general index (last week-end)

ENG: Y. Touré (Man. City) / ESP: A. Cejudo (Osasuna) / FRA: Nenê (Paris St. Germain) / ITA: C. Seedorf (Milan AC)

Champions League Final 2012 – The Identikit of the Finalists

Chelsea FC, who lost in the 2008 final to Manchester United on penalties, and Bayern Munich, who were defeated by Inter Milan in 2010, will return to the biggest stage in club football for what will be a fascinating encounter. Both teams include numerous players who have participated in previous finals and both teams have battled against the odds to reach this stage of the tournament.

The CIES Football Observatory has analysed the two teams and can now present an exclusive identikit using three demographic and three technical indicators which are mainly linked to results. Each indicator is presented comparatively with the value of 100 for the team with the highest score. Our calculations are made on the basis of all matches played this year in the Champions League. Pitch performance indicators have been developed using data supplied by our partners Opta.

Chelsea FC shows greater Champions League experience and squad stability. However, this contrasts with Bayern Munich’s greater pitch performance levels in all areas of the game (attacking, distribution and defending) and recent national A-team activity for its squad members.

Our data indicate that Bayern Munich should win the final. The German side has also the advantage to playing at their home stadium. Interestingly, however, in 1984 AS Roma had also the opportunity to become champions at home but was defeated by Liverpool FC. It should be noted, though, that the last time the Champions League final was played in Munich a German club did win the competition with Borussia Dortmund the winners in 1997.

The today Big-5 Weekly Post is also available. Sign up to receive our e-news and periodic alerts from the home page (bottom left) of our website.

Big-5 Weekly Post - Issue 8

The latest issue of the Big-5 Weekly Post presents data on the best performing footballers for April in each of the five major European championships. All the results are available to download for free from the CIES Football Observatory website.

Rankings are established according to five exclusive key performance indicators identified by the CIES Football Observatory on the basis of raw data provided by our partner company Opta. The indicators cover the following areas of play: open play shot, chance creation, take on, distribution and recovery.

Significantly, all of the indicators aggregated at team level are positively correlated to club results for each league and season. Only footballers who have played at least 50% of championship minutes in April are included in the rankings.

Best players, general index (April)

Big-5: L. Messi (Barcelona) / ENG: C. Tévez (Man. City) / ESP: L. Messi (Barcelona) / FRA: A. Traoré (Auxerre) / GER: I. Perišić (B. Dortmund) / ITA: A. Pirlo (Juventus)

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