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2010 Football World Cup Graphs

A team's strategy in one graph

By Javier López Peña and Hugo Touchette
School of Mathematical Sciences
Queen Mary, University of London

FIFA has made available on its website all sorts of downloadable data about the 2010 world cup. Among these, we found the number of passes between players of all the teams present at the world cup cumulated over the games they've played.

Who passes more in one team? What is the passing pattern of a given team? Can we predict a winning team based on its passing pattern?

The data can provide some answers. All we have to do is display them on a directed graph with the nodes of the graph representing the players and the arrows representing the passes. To get a nice picture, we can adjust the size and color of the arrows according to the number of passes between players. With the same data, we can also calculate mathematical quantities related to graphs, such as the centrality of a node (player) or the center nodes (players).

We have done this for England up to their last match against Germany, as well as for Holland and Spain, the finalists of the tournament. Click on the teams on the left to see the full results and analysis.

Can you predict with these graphs who will win between Holland and Spain? The obvious - and not entirely scientific - prediction for us is: Spain to win!


All teams

© HT, JL 2010