France or Belgium - analysis of the semifinalists

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With a couple of big games coming up tonight and tomorrow, we teamed up with our partner SciSports to analyse the strengths of the remaining four teams. Here is an analysis of the French and Belgian teams.

SciSports is a Dutch company providing data analysis and intelligence to the football industry. Their in-house developed SciSkill index gives a ‘quality’ rating to each individual player:

The SciSkill Index is a model based on different mathematical algorithms developed by SciSports to estimate the current and potential level of an individual player, based on the contribution of a player to the team result. The index is based on match results (and goals), strength of the opposing team, the number of minutes played, amount of games played, position on the field and the league strength. The SciSkill values are updated after every match. The SciSkill Index database contains 90,000 active players, 3,698 clubs and 244 competitions.

SciSports is also a partner of the Belgian Football association and is currently supporting the Red Devils with the tournament analytics. For this particular report SciSports provided their SciSkill data to SAS for visualization in SAS Visual Analytics.

So, what does the data tell us?

We compared the teams by positional groups, represented on the pitch below:

In goal Belgium seem to have an advantage, with Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois outscoring Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris. However, Lloris has proven to be in form with some top saves in previous games. Both teams' defenders and forwards look quite equally matched. The main difference is on the midfield, where the data shows that the French team overall should be able to dominate with strong players like Pogba and Kanté. It all depends on the actual formations though, with key Belgian players De Bruyne and Hazard being known to help out in the midfield as well. Overall it looks like it will be a very close game.

As in many games seen so far, the top players will likely make the difference tonight. Both teams have several superstars available; looking at the data the top 5 players per squad are as follows:

 

The French have a secret weapon though to spearhead their attack. Youngster Kylian Mbappé doesn’t show up in the top 5 yet, when looking at current SciSkill, however when taking into account potential SciSkill he scores highest. With the model predicting a maximum level of his index of 155, suggesting a bright future for the 19-year-old French forward. Something he has already proven in previous games.

In comparison, the Belgian player with the highest potential score is De Bruyne with a rating of 147,7. The data also clearly shows that both players are at different stages of their careers, with a lot of upward potential still for Mbappé, while De Bruyne already managed to come close to his full potential.

 

In summary and as conclusion: the data shows both teams are of quite equal strength, with some slight advantages for the French team, especially on the midfield and having a young super-talent available.

The Belgians though have proven to act as a real team during this tournament so far, and seem to finally have found the right tactics and chemistry. And with the intelligence of SciSports available to their squad, the Belgian Red Devils are expected to have a real chance tonight!

What do you think?

This report was made as a cooperation between SAS Software and SciSports. Read more about SAS and SciSports working together.

For more information about SAS Software, visit www.sas.com.

For more information about SciSports, visit www.scisports.com.

Stay tuned for more insights. Follow us on Twitter via @SASsoftware and @SciSportsNL.

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Bas Belfi

Senior Manager, EMEA Marketing Operations

Bas still feels like the 'new kid' on the Analytics block, with a background in Marketing and Business management. What’s different about his fresh perspective? You’ll see how a non-technical person perceives all things technical (think #IoT and #AI). It’s all in an effort to connect the Business and Analytics worlds, step by step.

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