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Visualizing the UEFA Champions League

As the availability and quality of sports data increases, so do the opportunities to analyze and derive valuable insights on any sporting event, like the UEFA Champions League.

On Saturday evening all eyes will be on the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal for the pinnacle of club soccer – the final of the UEFA Champions League. It will be a historic match-up between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, the first time ever two teams from the same city face-off in the final. Further adding to the Spanish supremacy, once the cup is awarded to either Real or Atletico at the end of the match, a Spanish club or national team will hold almost every single major international cup: Sevilla FC recently took home the Europa League, and Spain is the reigning European and World Champion.

As the availability and quality of sports data increases, so do the opportunities to analyze and derive valuable insights on any sporting event. I decided to use our self-service analytics tools to dig deeper into the 2013-2014 Champions League by visualizing the efforts of all 32 teams involved in the final stages, surveying player nationalities within the tournament, as well as comparing the two finalist teams’ seasons overall. This dashboard will tell you everything you need to know going into Saturday’s final. In this blog post you will see some of the insights you can find in the dashboard, but make sure to explore it yourself for more info on your favorite teams.

Earlier in this blog post I discussed Spain’s dominance in the soccer world. In addition to the obvious metric of number of trophies held, the number of players in a premiere event like the Champion’s League speaks to the depth of the national team. Image 1 shows just how much Spanish soccer has permeated all of the top European clubs, reaching 79 players on Champions League rosters. Germany follows the Spaniards with a very respectable 56, with a lower average age of 24.9 to Spain’s 26.8, indicating a bright future ahead. Brazil’s third place at 52 players is also impressive, considering they can’t have a national club in the tournament, and, surprisingly, 44% of them are defenders, defying the stereotype of the wildly offensive and creative players in the mold of greats like Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

Image 1: All Players featured in UEFA Champions League final stages, broken down by nationality, colored by average age.

Zeroing in on the final, the dashboard has a tab that analyzes Atletico Madrid’s and Real Madrid’s whole season in all competitions. Along with giving you a rundown of their form as the season progressed, it also visualizes the physical and play style differences between the two teams. For example, Image 2 below graphs out by height and weight all the players on both rosters with at least one appearance in an official match.


Image 2: Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid players' heights vs. weights, sized by season count of yellow cards

There are no striking differences in the distribution of players’ physical build, but Atletico Madrid’s players have accumulated a noticeably larger amount of yellow cards throughout the season. For all the hate Real Madrid’s yellow card leader (9), Pepe, gets for being an excessively rough defender, he wouldn’t even make Atletico Madrid’s top three. This highlights Atletico Madrid’s aggressive and sometimes rough style of play, which isn’t dictated by the size or weight of the players.

These are only two of many insights in the UEFA Champions League dashboard, so make sure you explore the dashboard yourself for more information.

To access the dashboard, click here.

For more information on MicroStrategy’s free self-service analytics products, click here.

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