The 20th FIFA World Cup will start on 12th June in Brazil and will generate huge media interest. The CIES Football Observatory is pleased to present new and exclusive data on the 32 teams who will be taking part in this mega event with the 2014 World Cup Preview. This new Football Observatory report analyses the profile of players used by each national team during the qualification process. For Brazil, we took into account footballers employed in friendly matches played during the qualification phase and in the Confederations Cup
The average age of players on the pitch for teams that qualified was 27.2. The oldest team was Australia (30.2 years), while the youngest was Nigeria (24.2). The average age on the pitch of European nations varies from 28.6 years for Italy and Russia to 24.7 for Belgium. The youngest player fielded was Fabrice Olinga (16.8 years during the match between Cameroon and Togo on 23/03/2013), while the oldest was Mark Schwarzer (40.7 years during the Australia v. Iraq match on 18/06/2013).
The employer club whose footballers played the most minutes during World Cup qualification matches was Real Madrid (10,549 minutes), followed by FC Barcelona (9,549) and Bayern Munich (9,351). The first non-European club, Esteghlal FC of Iran (5,061 minutes), ranked only 14th. This finding reflects both the over-representation of European teams in the World Cup and the high concentration of top level players in the most competitive European leagues.
In total, 48.9% of World Cup qualification minutes were played by footballers under contract with top division clubs in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. Only Russia did not field players employed by big-5 league teams. The percentage of minutes played by big-5 league footballers was also below 25% for Australia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Iran and South Korea. These nations will most probably struggle to qualify for the knockout stages.
Only about 35% of the qualification minutes were played by footballers playing in domestic leagues. This percentage was 0% for Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. The percentage was also under 5% for Uruguay, Bosnia, Ghana and Belgium. At the opposite end of the spectrum, domestic league based footballers played 100% of minutes in the English side. All other qualified nations fielded at least one player under contract with a foreign team.
The CIES Football Observatory will attend the first OptaPro Analytics Forum to be held Thursday 6th February in London. Drs Roger Besson and Raffaele Poli will present a poster on the fight against relegation in the English Premier League. The poster can be downloaded here.
The CIES Football Observatory is happy to disclose the 6th edition of its annual Demographic Study on 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations, 472 clubs and 11,653 players. The 96-page publication is divided in five chapters: club records, league comparison, league profile, international migration and youth talents. A free excerpt is available here.
The Study shows that professional European football is still confronted with processes that do not necessarily augur well for its future. The cloud of economic stakes that hangs over sporting logics is flagrant in many clubs and countries. In general, the number of transfers carried out by teams during the current season is at an all-time high. A trend that is difficult to understand given the actual climate with its numerous financial difficulties.
The increasing speculation surrounding players’ transfers is also visible through the progressive drop in the number of club-trained players, which has attained its lowest level since 2009. Conversely, the percentage of expatriate players has risen for the second consecutive year. Here too, the figure has never been so high.
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Ballon d’Or contender Franck Ribéry was the most productive offensive midfielder in the big-5 leagues since the start of the season. His main rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, ranks second among forwards. Lionel Messi was not included in the analysis as he played less than two thirds of championship minutes.
The rankings compare players according to key performance indicators exclusively developed by the CIES Football Observatory academic team using data provided by our partner Opta Pro. The indicators measure both the production and efficiency of players in six complementary areas of the game: shooting, chance creation, take on, distribution, recovery and rigour (see explanation below).
All the indicators are perfectly comparable at international level as they were developed by taking into account the differences between leagues in both the style of play and game intensity.
Luis Suárez outranks Cristiano Ronaldo (1st in Spain) and Neymar among the best performing strikers. In the remaining leagues, Carlos Tévez tops the table in Italy, Zlatan Ibrahimović in France and Marco Reus in Germany.
Franck Ribéry was the best performing offensive midfielder both in Germany and at big-5 league level, ahead of James Rodríguez (1st in France) and Miralem Pjanić (1st in Italy). In the other leagues, Samir Nasri tops the English table and Andrés Iniesta the Spanish one.
Paris St-Germain rising star Marco Verratti heads the ranking for central and defensive midifielders. The young Italian prodigy outperforms Gabi Fernández (1st in Spain) and Arturo Vidal (1st in Italy). Former full back Philipp Lahm ranks first in Germany, while Aaron Ramsey tops the English table.
Another very young player tops the table for full backs: David Alaba. In the other leagues, the best performing full backs were Douglas Maicon (Italy), Layvin Kurzawa (France), Pablo Zabaleta (England) and Dani Alves (Spain).
Finally, Giorgio Chiellini finishes top of the ranking for centre backs, ahead of Dante Bonfim (1st in Germany) and Leandro Castán. Alex da Silva heads the French table, Dejan Lovren the English one and Gerard Piqué was the best performing centre back in Spain.
More rankings are available in the 57th edition of the Big-5 Weekly Post. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
CIES Football Observatory key performance indicators
Shooting: ability to take advantage of goal opportunities through accurate shooting
Chance creation: ability to create goal opportunities through efficient passing
Take on: ability to create dangerous situations by successfully challenging opponents
Distribution: ability to hold the grip on the game through efficient passing
Recovery: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through proficient ball recovery
Rigour: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents by efficiently blocking their actions
The online database on the CIES Football Observatory website has been updated. The new database now includes data on the previous five completed seasons of the big-5 European leagues (from 2008/09 to 2012/13).
All interested users can now actively consult and access the trends observed in each of the big-5 leagues in relation to the following indicators:
• Average age
• Average height
• % of club-trained players
• % of full internationals
• % of expatriates
• Average stay
More detailed descriptions for each indicator are available here