The Statistics Always Lie – A Look At The Socceroos WC2018 Chances

I stumbled upon a link on the ABC News website titled “The stats don’t lie: Australia’s gargantuan World Cup task” which took me to James Maasdorp’s article titled “Comparing the Socceroos to the giants of world football through goals, appearances and social media”.

Unfortunately, for James, he seems to have forgotten that “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  There are a heap of statistical misrepresentations (I’m reluctant to call James a liar) in the analysis presented, and I hope to address just some here.

Now let me first state that while I do not necessarily disagree with James’ point that the Socceroos have a tough road ahead in Russia; I merely have an issue with his poor use of statistics to try to support it.

First, his use of Number of Players in the ‘Big 5’ Leagues.  This ignores the quality of players going around in the other leagues; one could argue that the top players in other leagues such as Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil or Mexico, are as good as or better than the average in Spain, England, Italy, France & Germany.  Also, while, yes the number of players in the ‘Big 5’ is an indicator of the depth of talent the selectors had to choose from, in the end, each team at the World Cup only gets to select 23.  Similar issue with presenting the Appearances stat.

Next, the use of Goals Scored and Combined Goals & Assists in these ‘Big 5’ leagues is a fundamentally flawed measure because it doesn’t allow for the number of players from the countries in those leagues.  Obviously, a country with way more players in the ‘Big 5’ will score & assist in way more goals.  If you allow for the number of players, i.e. Number of Goals & Assists per Player, Australia ranks 8th which is pretty good compared to our Group C opponents Denmark, France and Peru ranked 11th, 22nd and 24th respectively.  (FYI – Egypt is ranked #1).

Now, just for shits-and-giggles, let’s look at the Appearances per Player… Australia is ranked #1 on this measure.  Peru is 5th, Denmark 6th and France 19th.  What does this tell us? It could be argued that it shows the quality of the players in the ‘Big 5’ from the country, i.e. that they’re actually playing in the leagues more regularly, and this also allows for quality defenders and goalkeepers who would be under-represented in the Goals and Assists figures.

I could slice and dice these stats a few other ways, but in the end, all I would prove is what I’ve shown above, i.e. STATISTICS LIE.

Stock Image c/o https://www.pexels.com/photo/grass-sport-game-match-47730/

On the other stats James presents… FIFA18 rating, Social Media Following (SMF), and Transfer Market Valuation (TMV).  The SMF figure is completely irrelevant… yes, there may be a correlation between the quality of the player and his following, but correlation is not causation… otherwise, Kim Kardashian would be playing at the World Cup (but then again, USA didn’t qualify).  FIFA18 ratings and TMV are historic measures of the individual, Russia 2018 is a one-time event, now, and football is about the team.  If past World Cups have shown us anything is that great player and teams often fail when the world is watching, minnows often topple football powerhouses.  How many people expected Cameroon to beat Argentina in the opening match of 1990, or Costa Rica to beat Scotland later that same tournament?  How many predicted Senegal to defeat France in 2002?  Or Switzerland’s victory over eventual winners, Spain in 2010? What were these players EA Sports FIFA stats?  What were the TMV of the Cameroonians, Costa Ricans, Senegalese & Swiss?

I have hope for the Socceroos.  At their best, even with their current squad (which seems to be lacking the calibre of past Socceroo World Cup teams), they can beat Peru and Denmark… and what gives me hope in their opening game against France, is Le Bleu’s ability to self-destruct… despite its strength.

All that said… I won’t be holding breathe on a Socceroos victory…. Because I’ll probably be screaming at the TV, barracking for the Green & Gold.

Athens Antiques

11th of December 2015 – after a day exploring Athens with the clan, mainly in the Plaka area, we started to head back towards the hairdresser we pass earlier… we made an appointment for haircuts for all, as it had been 8 weeks since our last trim and we wanted to look presentable for our return home to Australia. As we walked east along Emmou Street, I saw an antique store across the road. This image is probably the highlight of our time in Athens, which was unfortunately spoiled by a dodgy taxi driver ripping us off, not being able to find a decent souvlaki, and a minor flood in our apartment due to dodgy plumbing.

Planes Aren’t Stocking

Michele suggested that I invent something that will keep up her stockings that doesn’t irritate her skin. I told her, I’m not that type of engineer.
“Hey, you can keep planes up in the air, why can’t you keep stocking from falling”.
Can’t really argue with that now, can I.

Balandra Breakfast

Balandra Breakfast was my entry for the “Art of 2014” challenge on DPChallenge. While it finished a respectable 20th with the voters, the real achievement was the Honourable Mention & accompanying “Green Splat” it got from the Jury, and the comment from one of the most respected artists on DPChallenge, posthumous.

The Last Supper reimagined as an absurdist working class cabaret. The indifferent Jesus, the stares into camera, the ridiculous interaction with a miniature tennis racket. As with a great Renaissance depiction of the Last Supper, we can only marvel at how much is going on, at the excess of beauty that we can appreciate so much better than the actual participants in it.
-posthumous

This is the third “Art of” challenge on DPChallenge that I’ve done well in. Back in 2011 “Christmas Day” took out the Blue Splat, and in 2013, I got a Green Splat for “Tight” (I really need to blog about that one too to give people the background story).

“Balandra Breakfast” was taken in Trinidad back in June 2014. We went down to Balandra on the east coast of the island to spend some time at Uncle Bruce and Auntie Marguerites’s holiday home… relaxing with family. During the few days there, many of the extended Trinidad family, uncles and aunts, cousins, and their kids came down to spend some time with us, relaxing… or as they say in Trinidad, “limin’“. One morning, I captured this moment at the breakfast table. Uncle Bruce, head in the newspaper (actually was probably a tablet) checking the football and cricket scores, surrounded by my six kids and three of his grandchildren at the table. The moment happens to have captured the expressions on the kids’ faces just as killed one realises she’s killed a bug with the mosquito bat.

Design History of the Keks Blog – Part III

For almost 3 years, this blog has been using the YAMINTH theme, but as of this weekend, it’s entered the world of Responsive Design with the purchase and implimentation of Readolog… the look and functionality of this design will no doubt be tweaked in coming days and weeks, but once established, this will be a design that will be around for a few years.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was one of our “theme-park” stops in our Christmas and New Year trek down to Florida.  We needed to get away from the cold of Southern Maryland, and wanted to take the kids to the see the Harry Potter worlds at the Universal theme-parks… but that’s a discussion for a different post.

So… we made our way down to KSC on Boxing Day, 2014, hoping to avoid the crowds that were expected to visit Universal.  We’d been to Universal on Christmas day, and speaking to the staff, they ALL said they were not looking forward to work the next day because it is the busiest day of the year for them… “wall-to-wall people”… “Black Friday for theme-parks”.  Anyway, that was somthing we were keen to avoid, so thought we’d explore KSC as it was less kid-orientated, a little bit of a drive for Orlando, and a nice way to break-up the trip and avoid theme-park overload.

We got there a little later than we’d hoped, and by the time we did arrive, all the special tours had sold out, so we were limited to the standard entry package.  Though a little disappointed at the time, given the crowds, the time it took to see what we could see, we were probably lucky we didn’t spend extra for the other tours.

The kids seemed to enjoy themselves, though, not as much as they did at the other theme-parks, but I had fun, and was very pleased I got to see so much great NASA stuff.