So that’s it the World Cup is done and dusted. While France took home the trophy it was another team who stole our hearts. Little Croatia with a population similar to ourselves managed to reach the final. Imagine if that was Ireland? We still wouldn’t have gone back to work. Now fair enough they have some of the best players on the planet in Modric and co but with a population and a small supply of players they knew something else was required to reach those lofty heights. The solution you ask? Embrace technology.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 15, 2018
All about them STATS
Sure enough technology in sports is nothing new. Nowadays it might be common for teams to have video analysts but only Croatia used STATS to give them the competitive edge.
Ok, so what we have found out is that an analyst will usually take 5 hours to comb through the game. Not something you want with your local Junior B team. Thanks to the new AI, the computer will do all the hard work. Looking at this from a Croatian perspective that’s 5 fewer hours of watching Harry Maguire’s head doing what it does. These stats are so detailed and comprehensive that things like “expected goals” are taken into consideration as a way of showing chances where the forward has a better chance of scoring than the ‘keeper has of making the save.
Dr. Patrick Lucey, vice president of AI at STATS, explained to Bleacher Report.
“If you look at the broadcasts, the statistics that they show are useless. They don’t tell the full story and are not predictive of a team winning. I normally use the example of the World Cup semi-final in 2014. Germany won 7-1, but if you look at the statistics, Brazil had more shots, more dangerous chances. Yet Germany won 7-1.”
Sending England Home
“And what they were really effective on was the high press. They did a lot of that and maintained the ball a lot. They weren’t much into direct play or crossing. That tended to be their style across the Cup. However, if you look at the game against Croatia, they had less possession, and in terms of their playing style, they went direct a hell of a lot of times.
Technology in football is not here to replace humans, it merely facilitates us to make better decisions based on the information given to us by the platform.
Is this the future of footy?
Quite possibly yes. The company as we mentioned earlier are expanding and with a new office based in Ireland. Their goal will be to get working with more European clubs and athletes in the near future. The STATS Edge interface looks so clean and simple with each piece of data linked back to a video for human observation.
Literally take the surprise out of the game, that’s a Martin O’Niell philosophy if we ever saw one. While Croatia may have been underdogs throughout the competition, drive, passion, some talent and a little help from technology helped them punch well above their weight. Now if only Ireland could start doing the same, that would be great.