Category: World Cup 2018

Gluck: Fourth Year Anniversary Edition

My thanks to everyone who has supported my web site the last four years!

It’s been a learning experience for me and, I hope, for you too.

As the new year starts I’ve got at least five new articles planned; here’s a quick synopsis on what to expect:

  • Following up on Coaching Youth Soccer Part I and Coaching Youth Soccer Part II, I’ll be offering Coaching Youth Soccer Part III – digging into which team statistics to use, why, when, and how to use them.  For those who don’t know me these three articles highlight my coaching philosophy into one three word catchphrase “muscle memory mentality“.
  • Two new individual soccer statistics:   This (may?) be controversial – My intent is to submit two new, professional level, individual, soccer statistics that could transform the player market value system.

Said differently; are private statistics companies, like Prozone Sports, OPTA, and InStat (along with player agents) manipulating the player market value system by ignoring what might be the most logical, intuitive, individual soccer statistics ever?

  • Expected Points – An updated version of my previously created Expected Wins series of articles.  A follow on to what was offered at the World Conference on Science & Soccer 2017, Rennes, France.
  • Expected Goals – A new way to calculate this over-hyped soccer statistic that brings it a bit closer to reality.
  • World Cup 2018 Total Soccer Index; to include predicting the winners after round one is complete.

For now, in case you missed one or two, here’s my rundown on the top five articles in each of the last four years.

In Closing:

  • I called for Jurgen Klinsmann to be sacked after WC 2014 because his tactics and in-game adjustments weren’t up to snuff.  Three years later the rest of the american mainstream soccer media world agreed and Klinsmann was sacked.
  • I called for Sunil Gulati to be ‘ousted’ after WC 2014 because his leadership in helping youth development and head coach selection weren’t up to snuff. Three years later the rest of the american mainstream soccer media world agreed and Gulati is out.
  • In hindsight – I wonder where we’d be in youth soccer development if we’d have made those decisions three years ago?
  • No, I do not favor Caleb Porter as the next US Men’s National Team head coach.  I like Caleb, he’s a stand-up guy and always took time to share and listen.  That said, in my opinion, he’s not (consistently) good enough at reading in game situations and making tactical adjustments that lead to better performances; the exact same issue I had with Jurgen Klinsmann.  .
  • I’m hopeful either Eric Wynalda or Steve Gans are elected as the next United States Soccer Federation President; electing Kathy Carter is a NO-GO in my view as there’s perceived ‘collusion’ between MLS and SUM.  As a retired Air-Force veteran perception is reality until proven otherwise – some may disagree?

I wish you all the best for the new year.





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

Total #Soccer Index #WorldCup 2018 Predictions for the Semi Finals

Coming into the Quarterfinals the Total Soccer Index had been 100% accurate in predicting the Knockout stage winners:


When removing Cavani player performance, for Uruguay, prior to the Quarterfinals, the Total Soccer Index had been 100% accurate in predicting the quarterfinal winners:

That ends up seeing the TSI being 12 for 12 in predicting the next stage winners.   Still waiting for Audi or Fox Soccer to be my sponsor. 😉

Now with the semi-finals upon us here’s what the tea leaves show in the Total Soccer Index:

I’m an England supporter and the numbers are pretty bloody close; 8.83 for Croatia and 8.41 for England – squeaky bum-cheek tight to be sure.

A couple of things could influence the outcome – most assuredly the fitness of the players and any lingering issues with injuries – especially for the Croatian goal keeper – Subasic.

For Belgium, their number, 11.04 remains highest in the index – as they have the entire World Cup competition – just like Germany, who won the Cup in 2014.

In closing:

My odds on favorite to take the World Cup since group stages were completed has been Belgium – I don’t waiver from that as they are playing the best ‘team’ soccer of anyone else.

That said, I want England to win it all so I can listen to this song for the next 24 hours:

  • Football’s Coming Home
  • Recommend skipping the ad.
  • Course, the video and audio will need to be updated as appropriate. 🙂

As a reminder – the Total Soccer Index was developed to account for the ‘bell curve’ of team activities in a game.  Apart from secret formulas the primary statistics used to create the index include:

  • Possession
  • Passing Accuracy
  • Penetration
  • Creation
  • Precision, and
  • Finishing
  • For both teams in attack and how successful the opponent is in attacking.

Best, Chris

My #WorldCup2018 Predictions for the Quarterfinals

There is no doubt most pundits offer this as being the greatest World Cup ever, espousing upsets throughout the competition.

I think the majority of those upsets are more about FIFA have a dodgy ceding process than how teams are really performing on the pitch.

In tracking the odds on favorite to take the World Cup it’s:

  1. Brazil
  2. France/Belgium
  3. England
  4. Croatia
  5. Uruguay
  6. Russia
  7. Sweden

My current Possession with Purpose Total Soccer Index shows the favorites as being:

  1. Belgium
  2. Brazil
  3. Croatia
  4. Uruguay
  5. Russia
  6. England
  7. Sweden and
  8. France

As mentioned earlier – many are saying there have been a large number of upsets in the World Cup this year.

Since my TSI was 100% accurate in predicting the teams to advance to the quarterfinals earlier this week I’m inclined to disagree – things went as the team performance statistics indicate.

Color coded bars show knockout stage match-ups; in every case the team shown with the higher TSI number of the Group Stages advanced.

With so many late goals scored and shootouts deciding the winners this is a tough World Cup to figure out – what some have seen as being upsets really weren’t when checking results against the TSI.

For example, this year Germany have been near mid-table in the TSI whereas in 2014 Germany led the Index from Group Stages onward.

This year Belgium has led the Index from Group Stages onward.

More to follow but at this stage in the World Cup my odds on favorite to win is Belgium; with Brazil a very close second and Croatia third.

Note: my TSI does not take into account individual players like Cavani – this is strictly a ‘team performance index’ so if you think Cavani and/or Suarez or Casomire missing will impact a team result bet as such.

Best, Chris