Who wins #WorldCup2018?

This game is a clash of tactics and both teams have shown an ability to advance playing possession-based, counter-attacking or direct-attacking soccer.

For me, this is all about which team can control the game (and win) playing “with” or “without” the ball.

Here’s how they’ve done so far.

I categorize games where less than 45% means a committed approach to playing without the ball while greater than 55% possession is a committed approach to playing with the ball.  Teams showing less than 40% usually depict those playing direct-attacking soccer.

  • France:
    • Game one 55% Possession – 3 points  (with)
    • Game two 43% Possession – 3 points (without)
    • Game three 68% Possession – 1 point (with)
    • Game four 40% Possession – 3 points (without)
    • Game five 61% Possession – 3 points (with)
    • Game six 36% Possession – 3 points (without)
  • Croatia:
    • Game one 55% Possession – 3 points (with)
    • Game two 43% Possession – 3 points (without)
    • Game three 61% Possession – 3 points (with)
    • Game four 54% Possession – 3 points (with)
      • This game was against Denmark a team that averaged 43% possession.
    • Game five 66% Possession – 3 points (with)
    • Game six 55% Possession – 3 points (with)

France shows better in playing with and without the ball but both teams have had great results.

Since both teams have been successful in attacking with either style I think this game probably comes down to defending.

Here’s how opponents have fared against France and Croatia when looking at the primary team statistics used to create a part of the Total Soccer Index:

  • Opponent passing accuracy:
    • France 79%
    • Croatia 76%
  • Opponent penetration
    • France 20%
    • Croatia 23%
  • Opponent creation
    • France 18%
    • Croatia 24%
  • Opponent precision
    • France 31%
    • Croatia 27%
  • Opponent Finishing
    • France 29%
    • Croatia 23%

While ceding more opponent penetration and creation, Croatia have held better in minimizing opponent precision (shots taken that are on goal) and finishing (shots on goal that result in a goal scored).

  • From analyzing team performance data over the last four years this usually equates to having a better goal keeper.
  • Meaning Subasic, in my view, has shown better throughout the tournament than Lloris.  Winning two games on penalty kicks seems to support that even though my team performance data ignores penalty kicks taken after extra time is completed.

Some sound bites for your consideration.

World Cup 2018:  Teams who focused solely on possession-based soccer (played with greater predictability) included Argentina, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Brazil. Only Brazil made it to the quarterfinals.

World Cup 2014: Teams who focused solely on possession-based soccer (played with greater predictability) included Argentina, Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy, and France.  As we know both Germany and Argentina played in the final.

Of the 2014 possession-based teams only France has adopted/changed their style and become less predictable.

Times have changed; just possessing the ball – in international competition – isn’t good enough.

Those calling for Didier Deschamps to be sacked really need to think twice.  I would have thought Loew would be on that list well before Deschamps; especially now that Spain sacked their head coach.

In 2018 the Total Soccer Index has accurately predicted which teams would advance 12 out of 14 games once group stages were completed.

In 2014 the Total Soccer Index had accurately predicted which teams would advance 11 out of 14 games once group stages were completed and was 2 for 2 in accurately predicting which teams would finish first, second, third and fourth once the finals were reached.

All told the Total Soccer Index has accurately predicted which team would advance after group stages, in 2014 and 2018, 23 out of 26 times (88.46% accuracy rating).

I’m not aware of any Index (anywhere) with a higher percentage of success rate in predicting which team would advance after group stages were completed.

Serious question – why haven’t I received at least some sort of communication from an American soccer broadcast company asking about this Index and how they can use it to better tell the story (educate) people in our country about team soccer.

  • My answer – I’ve never played professional soccer so I don’t know anything about the game – kinda like Zlatko Dalic…

The accuracy of this index should prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the current method (even though it’s newly improved) for how FIFA rank teams across the world is nowhere near as accurate (and reasonable) as it could be.

In closing:

In my view Croatia is favored and should win the World Cup provided no key players are injured.  I offer this caveat after looking back at Uruguay – with Cavani in the side their Total Soccer Index exceeded that of France – when removing Cavani from their previous team performance statistics France had the edge.

As for Belgium versus England – although it’s bronze metal game it’s still worthy of consideration.

And like the game England had against Croatia – I wanted England to win but the team performance statistics lean towards Belgium…

Best, Chris

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