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FIFA World Cup 2014: Maps, Matches, and More

The 2014 World Cup is upon us.  As the excitement builds, fans are searching for the latest on players, teams, and everything else World Cup. With 32 teams and over 700 players heading to Brazil for the world’s most important soccer event, it can be hard to keep up with the frenzy. Here at MicroStrategy we’ve been collecting data for months to create an interactive dashboard that illuminates the hidden patterns and insights on teams and players of the 2014 World Cup you might have missed.

The World Cup dashboard allows you to easily interact with and understand information on four topics: Geography, World Cup Groups, Experience, and History. It will give you insights on the concentration of World Cup players in each city around the world, the scoop on the youngest and oldest players, how each country compares to their historical best team, and much, much more. In this blog post we will highlight a couple of the most interesting visualizations and insights, but be sure to explore the dashboard yourselves for more information on your favorite teams and players.

Image 1: Map of World Cup players by city of their club team.

This map shows the concentration of World Cup players by the city of their club team. In other words, it shows us which city showcased the most World Cup talent throughout the course of last season. Europe stands out with an incredibly high density of players, which makes sense given the wealth and history of many of the European leagues like the English Premier League, Spanish Liga, Italian Serie A, etc.

In addition to the main mass of players in Western Europe, there are two isolated but very bright spots in Russia – St. Petersburg and Moscow, contributing 9 and 17 players respectively. In the dashboard, you will be able to zoom in to specific cities to see exactly how many World Cup players could be seen playing in local stadiums last season.

On the topic of geography, another interesting question is whether players on each national team play at home or abroad. Many national teams prefer to feature domestic players, as they often employ a unique style of play and tactical approach that is consistent with their team’s national identity. Also, playing with many of the same teammates both in the club setting and on the national side can lead to better overall team chemistry.

On the other hand, a number of domestic leagues aren’t financially strong enough to retain their best talent, and smaller clubs are forced to sell players to wealthier clubs abroad. At this point national coaches have to choose whether to go with the more talented players who play abroad or stick with a cohesive, but perhaps slightly less gifted, group of domestic players.  Different models have worked for different teams, so there is no conclusive answer to this dilemma. Image 3 shows how different countries approach this issue.

Image 2: Players in the domestic league versus abroad for each of the World Cup teams.

On one end of the spectrum, 100% of Russia’s players feature in the domestic league, while on the other Uruguay only has one player in the domestic league (Sebastian Coates), who is on loan from a British team (Liverpool). The dashboard allows you to filter the map using the graph, so you can find out exactly where all the players in each national team played last year.

The current top two players in the world, Ronaldo and Messi, both play abroad. Soccer fans have been talking about their place in soccer history for many years now, but have they reached their peak yet? The last image groups all the players in the upcoming World Cup by year of birth and position. By showing how many players from each year are headed to Brazil, the image highlights which generation of players is at their peak and who is coming up behind them.

Image 3: World Cup players grouped by year of birth and position.

The bar chart shows us that the players born in 1986 are at their peak now, and we can include those born in 1985 and 1987 to represent that generation. Those three years produced the aforementioned Ronaldo and Messi, but also superstars like Cavani, Vidal, Suarez and Sergio Ramos. Players from this generation are competing in the World Cup at their peak and will be looking to dominate the scene in Brazil. Behind them, the group born in 1990, featuring Balotelli and Kroos, is a strong contributor to world cup rosters, followed by an abrupt decline in 1991, despite showcasing great talents like Oscar and Hazard. Going forward, it looks like the youngsters from 1990 and 1992 will lead the pack chasing down Messi and Ronaldo’s amazing generation.

These are just a few of the countless insights you can discover. Click here to access the dashboard and immediately start exploring the graphs, charts, and maps built on data covering 32 countries and over 700 soccer players. Jump right in to start exploring your favorite teams and players of the World Cup!

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