Euro 2020 Draw

Normally I’d do a post about the draw for the Euros, but what it would look like if it was done according to the team’s FIFA rankings.  I can’t do that at the moment because the play-offs haven’t happened yet.

On the other hand, it does mean that fans who are travelling to the matches can book their flights and accommodation earlier. That should help the fans and I’ve said for a long time, an earlier draw is a good idea.

Also, the Germany/France/Portugal/Someone else group sounds like it will be excellent fun.

For the full draw please see here.

Women’s World Cup Final 2019

Normally, here’s where I’d talk about which club team(s) are guaranteed to have a player on the winning team, but in this Women’s World Cup final, there isn’t one. No club teams link both national teams. I don’t know if this is because women’s football strongest leagues haven’t calcified as much as the men’s have, or if it’s because the teams are from different continents.

North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Ajax all have 4 players in the final, the most of any club teams. I’ve chosen to post the version of the diagram coloured to show number of connections to highlight those 5 teams. They’re the bright blue ones.
network diagram

No community view this time because it provides no extra information in this situation.

Women’s World Cup Semifinals

The semifinal diagram is here.

The diagram definitely shows the advantage of using the blue and red spectrum colouring, it is much easier to see which are the biggest teams, and to see gradations of shade.

The national team closest to the centre is England, while the Huston Dash are the club team closes to the centre. The US is linked to others by Jodie Taylor who plays for Reign FC. The three other national teams form a pretty solid triangle.

Through this link to Jodie Taylor, Reign FC are one of the teams who will have someone in the final, no matter what the semifinal results are. The other two are Bayern Munich and Montpellier.

The club with the most players left is Manchester City with 8, followed by Chelsea with 7 and Arsenal with 6. I don’t know if this reflects the spending power of the Women’s Super League now that most clubs are attached to Premier League clubs, or if it’s pure chance.

Going to the community view, there are 4 teams left but 6 communities.

Lyon and Wolfsburg, the two “extra” communities, link two national teams teams, with one player from each team, other clubs that are joining two teams have been put into the community of the nation who supplies the most players.

Of course none of this answers the most important question – who do I support when England play the US? The Lionesses or Megan Rapinoe’s team?!

Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals

We are now down to the last 8 teams, and I swear the schedule for the Women’s World Cup is shorter than the men’s because we’ve barely had time to breathe.

I’ve realised there was a question I meant to ask in the last post and didn’t. Does anyone know why so many of the Nigerian team played in the Norwegian league? Are they all following in a player’s footsteps (a la the Fijian rugby league players of Rochdale)? Or is it something else?

While the results of the second round have mostly gone to form (except Japan vs the Netherlands), I am starting to think Brazil enjoy making the Argentine men’s team look good at this knock out football thing. How can you be so good and still not win stuff?!

On to the diagrams:

Network diagram showing the links between the quarter final teams

The national team closest to the centre is England, and Manchester City are probably the club team closest but it’s hard to tell because of the way the teams are spread. The losses of Canada, Australia and Japan mean that the US is pretty much on it’s own with a heavy counterweight of European teams.

The club teams with the most players left in are Lyon (11), Bayern (10) and Chelsea (9). Barcelona lost most of its players when Spain lost.

The community view is less interesting because each country is its own community.

Same image as before, coloured by community

There seems to be far less overlap than there normally is in the men’s game and I don’t know if that’s because no “dominant” league has yet established itself. In the men’s you’d expect most of the finalists to play in one of the big 5 European leagues (Spain, England, Italy, Germany, France, and you can make the argument it’s really a big 2 of Spain and England), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Yet. Professional leagues still being a relatively recent thing in women’s football, and it will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.

Women’s World Cup 2019 Last 16 Network Diagram

Network diagram showing the links between teams in the last 16

Spain are the national team closest to the middle, with Barcelona the club team nearest. Barcelona also has the most players left in the competition with 15, followed by Lyon on 13 and Bayern Munich on 10.

Despite the large number of unattached players playing for teams in the group stages, only 1 unattached player is left in, Gaëlle Enganamouit of Cameroon. This may suggest that those teams who fielded unattached players may have had less player depth and had to use them.

After the knocked out teams have been removed, the out-lying teams are now Japan, China and Italy.

All of the teams I classified as “made of players from lots of clubs” are out, which might make it an interesting prognostic factor in future. Only one of the “players few from few clubs” teams is out, and that was Thailand, who were an oddity in that group because the national team manager set up a club for them so they could get paid.

If we look at the community view
Same image as before coloured by community

The US and Australia are still one community, every one else is their own community. This would obviously have happened in the case of England and Scotland as Scotland were knocked out but I am not sure why Sweden and Nigeria are no longer together as one community when they were before.

Women’s World Cup 2019 Network Diagram

I had hoped to make a diagram like this for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in 2017, but I couldn’t get enough information about which club team the players played for to make one.

I also wanted to have this ready for the start of the World Cup, but real life happened.

Without further ado, here is the team network diagram for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Unlabelled version – Network diagram of the teams at the Women's World Cup

Labelled version – Labelled version of the same diagram

I wanted to use both versions because the sheer overlap of some of the teams makes it hard to pick out the individual teams (looking at you so much United States and Canada).

Canada is the national team closest to the centre, while the Texas Longhorns are the club team closest to the centre.

The club team with the highest number of players involved is Barcelona, with 15 players, followed by Lyon on 14 and Chelsea and Manchester City with 12.

There are a lot more players who are down as unattached than I would expect, there’s a full 11 player. They’re not quite a full team because that 11 includes 2 goalkeepers but only 1 defender.

Jamaica are the only team where no-one plays in their national league, the US are the only team where everyone does. Interestingly, all the players for Sweden and the US play for club teams that have at least one other player from a different country also playing for them.

England and Scotland are a lot closer than I think the men’s team equivalents would be, possibly because a lot more Scottish women play in the English league than Scottish men do.

The national teams seem to be divided into those teams where most players play for a couple of club teams and those where their players play for many different club teams. It’s hard to see in the teams in the middle, but clear for those around the outside. I think Italy and Jamaica are probably the clearest example.
Figure showing Italy has players from very few teams while Jamaica has players from many

National teams with players from few clubs include Italy, Germany, Thailand, China and South Korea. Teams with players from many clubs include Argentina, South Africa, Chile, Jamaica and New Zealand. I have no idea if it means anything.

In the men’s World Cup, teams further away from the centre are more likely to go out early. If this is also true in the women’s, then it doesn’t look good for Thailand, South Africa, China and Japan. Because I know Japan are a strong team, I suspect they will be fine.

Community view of the diagram

As far as football is concerned, Australia is the 51st state. This is because a lot of the Australian players who play for non-Australian teams play for US teams that also have players on the US national team.

Also grouped together are England and Scotland (because lots of Scottish players play in England) and Sweden and Nigeria (because lots of Nigerian players play in Sweden).

Because they have players who play for the same teams and because they’re away from other teams, I was expecting Chile and Argentina to be grouped together but they’re not. I was also expecting Norway to be in the Nigeria/Sweden group, but they are not. This might be because Norway also has links to the Netherlands.

Further updates to come as the tournament progresses.

The Euro 2020 Qualification Draw, Or UEFA Do Like To Over-Complicate Things

I have seen the results of draw for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, and I have very little to say about them, other than Austria’s draw looks okay (they can qualify second from that group), the fight for second place in group F looks like it could be tasty, and the winners of the Netherlands vs Germany will be us, the viewing public.

The interesting thing with this draw is the set of rules UEFA are using for the draw (full rules, less well explained under the “draw details” tab here).  Some of the rules make sense, some of them are more …. well, as  friend L said “I fear UEFA have seen American College Football, and told them to hold their beer.”

Starting with the sensible ones, one rule says that Spain and Gibraltar can’t be drawn together, and neither can Kosovo and Serbia or Bosnia-Herzegovina (I also suspect there would be surreptitious switching if Russia and Ukraine drew each other).  I can completely understand that one.

Next is the cold weather rule – a maximum of two countries at risk of severe winters can be in one group.  These countries are: Belarus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Ukraine.  Again, I can understand that, cold weather increases the risk of postponement and if you have too many postponed games, the fixtures pile up at unfortunate points of the season.

Then there’s the distance rule about travel to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iceland because they are too far away from everyone.  For each of these three countries there is a list of countries of which only one can be drawn with Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan or Iceland (the list for each country can also be found under the “draw details” tab here).  Again, I can understand this one, because UEFA want atmosphere at the games and if you give fans too many far off places to travel then they’re not going to travel.

So far, so reasonably sensible.

Then we hit the rules where I am not quite sure why they’re there.

The first is to do with the host countries for Euro 2020.  As I am sure you know, Euro 2020 is being hosted by many, many countries.  UEFA are trying to make sure that the countries that are hosting will at least have a chance of qualifying, which again, I understand for atmosphere reasons.  As the top two teams in each group qualify, no more than two host countries are allowed in each group. The host countries are: England, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Hungary, Romania and Russia.  The reason I don’t like it is that it gives some of the bigger names in European football a bit of an advantage.  If you’re England, you’re glad you don’t get Germany and say Romania, because Romania are a solid and occasionally tricksy side.

However, that rule is only going to stay for Euro 2020, unless they decide to repeat the experiment for a later tournament.  The rule I really don’t like and that I can’t see going (unless the entire overly-complicated Nations League tournament is overhauled) is that the Nations League finalists have to be drawn in 5 team pools.  This is so they have a gap in the schedules for the Nations League final matches.  Those four teams are England, Switzerland, Portugal and the Netherlands.

I don’t like this rule because the teams that will be in the Nations League final are already going to be the good teams and giving them a match off seem to be depriving a minnow of a big money match.

As per usual, I’ve seen what draw you’d get if you apply these rules to the FIFA rankings at the time of the draw.  If you apply the rules to the rankings, this is the result.


Belgium get a rest match due to a lack of a 56th team, having earned it by being the top ranked European team on the FIFA rankings.  Overall, the strength of the groups is similar, mostly because of the moving around that has to be done to accommodate all the rules.

Of course, depending on how the Nations League tier finals results go, there’s every chance a supercomputer is going to be required to understand who will eventually qualify, because UEFA like to overcomplicate everything.

I suspect that if the NCAA decide to expand the college football play-offs, their choices on how to do that are going to make this seem utterly logical, but then again, that might only encourage UEFA!

2018 World Cup Final Diagram

What a match!

Probably the best final since 1994, although, admittedly, my memory only goes back to 1994.

Exciting, excruciating, and while the better team won, I feel terribly sorry for Croatia. Also, I told you that Lloris would drop a clanger.

No community view this time because once you’re down to two teams it doesn’t add any value.

Two team network

Five teams would have had a winner either way (Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Monaco, Real Madrid), this is a lot more than normal.

Possibly because very few Croats (2/23) play in their home league, and only 9/23 French players play in the French league.

At the last World Cup final, only two teams would have had a winner no matter who won, and those two teams were Real Madrid and Lazio.

Comparing it to the last two Euros, which I can do because this World Cup final was an all European final, in 2016 only Lyon would have had a winner whichever side won, and in 2012 there was only 1, Manchester City who had Mario Balotelli on one side and David Silva on the other.

Six clubs jointly had the most players in the final two teams, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid.

Juventus are the club team nearest the centre.

World Cup Final Prediction

I’m going to say France will win because I predicted them before the start of the tournament and I like to be consistent.

I think they’ll do it because they’ve got that little bit more quality throughout. Before anyone says anything about *that* Croatian midfield, I know they’re good, and I love them, but the thing they don’t like, real, proper Modric and Rakitic kryptonite, is someone who harries them and doesn’t give them space on the ball. In N’Golo Kante, France have an excellent proponent of that.

I am looking forward to the tiny midfielder football off.

While Lloris hasn’t had one of his regular clangers, I have the greatest of doubts about Danijel Subašić’s goalkeeping. Croatia also have Vida, who is one of those players *things* happen to and I fear the next one is going to be a bad thing.

France also have Mbappe. Who is better than advertised!

There’s also more than a small part of me that wants France to win just for Didier Deschamps who I loved as a player.

2018 World Cup Semifinal Network Visualisations

Semi final team data viz

As Croatia are the team sticking out, I suspect that they are the least likely to progress.

France, Belgium and England are a giant smush still.

Spurs are the team with the most have most players left with 9, followed by Manchester City and Manchester United on 7. Manchester City lost several players when Brazil were knocked out.

Paris Saint Germain are the club team nearest the centre, while France are the national team nearest the centre.

The community view is interesting.


There are 4 teams and 7 communities, one for each country and then 1 for Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool. I don’t quite follow why Barcelona is separate but Monaco isn’t since they both connect 3 teams and have one player from 2 of the teams and 2 from the third. I presume Juventus are their own community because they have 1 player from Croatia and 1 from France and it’s more logical than giving Juventus to either country. However, following that logic, I’m not sure why Lovren is in the Croatia community rather than the Liverpool one, unless it’s because of the extra distance he is away from the others.