Stoke away. Arsenal away. Man United away. Everton away. Tottenham away. Chelsea away. Man City away. Newcastle away.
Liverpool’s opening run of away games in 2015-16 read like a death wish for Brendan Rodgers’ team – and indeed his own fortunes. Yet on the flip side, their home games in the same period promised a healthy return of points: Bournemouth, West Ham, Norwich, Aston Villa, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Swansea, West Brom.
This got 5 Added Minutes thinking: what’s preferable – a collection of ‘hard’ (i.e. vs good opposition) away games with ‘easy’ (i.e. vs weak opposition) home games, or a collection of ‘hard’ home games with ‘easy’ away games?
Countries usual bid to host major sporting events on two premises: 1) that the event will boost the economy and 2) that it will leave a sporting legacy.
The first premise is not supported by any reputable research; in the case of the World Cup, FIFA tends to gobble up most of the tournament’s benefits. But what of leaving a legacy? In the case of football, do national teams get better after hosting a World Cup?
The Premier League is sleepwalking into a PR nightmare.
By the 2017-18 season, the self-styled ‘best league in the world’ could have just three teams playing in the Champions League.
This is based upon a very simple projection of performance in UEFA competitions for the coming seasons. A more favourable, but still simple projection has the Premier League losing its spot a season later.
For the last few years, the Champions League quarter final draw has kept apart the competition’s biggest names, helping set up a series of remarkable semi final lineups.
The 2014-15 draw – and subsequent progression of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus – was no different. Indeed, the first three teams on the list have stepped up another level in the last 9 months, creating a clear gulf between themselves and the remaining teams in Europe.
This got 5 Added Minutes asking – is this the greatest Champions League semi final line up in history?
Four years ago this week, sitting on the third floor of my university’s library, I launched 5 Added Minutes. For a couple of months, the blog was simply a place to express frustrations at media clichés and received wisdom in football, but it quickly evolved into a medium for me to use data and analytics to challenge the conversations that were taking place in press conferences, ‘expert’ columns and television analyses.
I wasn’t the first to join this ‘revolution’ – not my word, but Simon Kuper’s in a June 2011 Financial Times piece; one of the first mainstream articles to take a view on the impact of statistics on professional football – and since 2011 there have been many more who have taken an interest, and even a lead, in the development of football analytics. But when a WordPress notification reminded me that it had been four years since the creation of my blog, I felt obliged to reflect on the journey of both amateurs and professionals in this industry. How far have we come, and has some of the promise of the Kuper article materialised into results?
5 Added Minutes doesn’t care too much for Messi vs Ronaldo debates, but it does care for data and insights into behaviour, of which the Ballon D’or voting system provides lots of. Each country has three voters – the national captain, national coach and member of the media – who provide three votes worth 5, 3 and 1 point towards the best player in the world that year.
In the four awards since 2011 (held in January 2012 to celebrate the achievements of the previous year), Messi and Ronaldo have shared 60% of the points on offer – from a maximum possible of 89% – with Messi edging out his rival with 32% of the points.
But in this era of shared dominance, which countries have preferred the Argentine? And which have opted against him? The voting patterns of three individuals may not reflect the views of an entire country, but they provide a curious and sometimes amusing insight into certain national preferences: