Football analytics: when football meets science

Written on 12 November 2017, 09:51pm

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I wrote a piece about football analytics in Romanian: when football meets science. It was one of the articles I really enjoyed writing and it took me over 10 evenings to do it.

Here are the top level details:

Football analytics is all about using data about previous events in order to have an indication about the outcome of future events.
It is not new: it started somewhere in the ’50 and one of the first coaches to use it was a Russian trainer called Valeri Lobanovsky, in an era where a computer was taking up rooms.
I found a correlation about the DIKW pyramid and the usage of football data:
– Data – numbers and metadata collected using manual operators, tracking devices or video tools
– Information – when data is put into context. One indicator that recently became mainstream is the ‘expected goal‘ (xG) – a percentage associated with every shot based on previously aggregated data
– Knowledge – when information is combined with previous experience. Example – aggregating information about indicators like xG (xG for, xG against, non-shot xG, xG difference)
– Wisdom – using previous levels to take strategic decision enabling competitive advantage.

The first two levels are for the football fans, media writers and TV pundits.
The last two levels are for the professional football clubs and for the betting companies. This is where the football analytics takes places and these levels can give indication about future events.

A few examples of football analytics:
1. transfers: before any transfer, the targeted player is analysed from a few perspectives: tactical, physical, technical. The modern clubs are using players databases with custom criteria in order to maximize their match rate.
2. injury prevention: by tracking the way a player runs and measuring how long his feet stays on the ground, one can evaluate the player tiredness
3. predicting outcome of future events by calculating and maintaining a club index (ex.
4. penalty shoot-out: statistics showed that the team shooting first has a 20% advantage over the second team. The football governing bodies realized this un-fair advantage and recently changed the order of the shoot-out (now ABBA instead of ABAB)

In the end, football remains a random sport. Using analytics can give indications, and make the clubs better understand some questions, but it cannot (yet) give definite answers. As long as football is played by humans, the human factor will play its part and will keep football random and enjoyable.

The graphics on Fifa 16 are something else

Weekly links #2

Written on 12 October 2015, 08:34am

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Apple Camera?

I, for one, would love to see Apple develop an iPhone 7P. The “P” is for photography. Add back 2mm to the device’s profile, which would enable a larger battery, and install an even better camera (bigger lens, bigger sensor) for people who love photography. I would easily pay a $100 premium for the specialized device. I have to think they would sell more of these than the iPhone 6c.
The One Thing Apple Understands is Photography
plus 5 reasons Apple should make a professional camera


An European alternative to Soylent:

Update, 1 month later: I could not get used to the taste. And I’m sorry about that, the prospect was extremely appealing 🙁

Eating a diet considered healthy by scientific standards is difficult. These requirements can only be met with a varied and well thought out diet.
We have developed a formula which combines all nutrients recommended by dietitians in a powder, which we call BERTRAND.


Security Keys

With 2-Step Verification, Google requires something you know (your password) and something you have (like your phone) to sign in. Google sends a verification code to your phone when you try to sign in to confirm it’s you. However, sophisticated attackers could set up lookalike sites that ask you to provide your verification codes to them, instead of Google. Security Key offers better protection against this kind of attack, because it uses cryptography instead of verification codes and automatically works only with the website it’s supposed to work with.
Using Security Key for 2-Step Verification

A few notes about security keys in general and YubiKey in particular:
– the security keys do not need batteries or mobile connectivity (as the cell phones receiving security codes)
– full YubiKey product lineup
– the blue YubiKey implements the U2F standard and works with GMail, Dropbox and GitHub
– the most expensive YubiKey version works also via NFC with the supported devices
– the other ones must rely on a recent Chrome version and on a device with an USB port
– if the security key is not available, the normal security codes (received on cell phones) still work
yubi keys