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The Economist tried to respond with a bit of data: wealth and passion for football come into play, but there are also things that can be taught. In the world, there are at least 130 countries with a larger population. Yet Uruguay has won two World Cups, in 2010 it reached the World Cup semi-finals, and in 2011 it won an America’s Cup. You can now grab the liverpool vs arsenal tickets also.

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The Progress of the Teams:

In his own small way, Iceland to have done the same thing, with the 330,000 inhabitants it is the nation with the least inhabitants ever to have qualified for a World Cup. Like so many others before, the Economist he wondered why such small countries are able to have such good results in a sport that is played practically anywhere in the world, and why there are larger or richer countries that would like but fail. For example, why does China, which has a billion and three hundred million inhabitants and on football seems to want to bet a lot, failed to qualify for the World Cup?

  • The Economist began to look for data and to make accounts, and he elaborated a statistical model that identifies what makes a country strong in football. The aim, therefore, is not to predict which nation is most likely to win this World Cup, but to understand the sporting and economic reasons that determine the football potential of a country.

The data obtained were then crossed with the results obtained from 1990 to date by the 126 national teams that have played at least 150 official matches. A graph came out with a diagonal line that starts from the lower left side and arrives at the top right: the countries under the diagonal have gone worse than the Economist data would suggest; the countries above better. Italy is below. The higher a country is, the better its goal difference has been over the past three decades. If a country is far to the right, it means instead that it has achieved excellent results based on the parameters taken in the analysis by the Economist.

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The parameters taken into consideration by the Economist had to do with the economy and the popularity of football in each country. As far as the economy is concerned, the figure for per capita GDP in relation to purchasing power was taken into consideration: that is, taking into consideration the cost of living in each country. To value the popularity of football in every country, the Economist looked at the number of people playing football taking it from 2006 FIFA data and the research that was done on Google between 2004 and 2018 regarding the football. The number of searches was then linked to research related to other team sports. To evaluate national enthusiasm and general sports investments, the Economist he also added to the calculations the number of Olympic medals won per inhabitant.

Once the long but necessary premises are over, here are the results and what’s behind it. Wealth obviously helps: having a GDP per capita double compared to that of the opponent you play against corresponds to a difference of 0.2 goals, regardless of everything else; 0.2 goals is also the difference between a team whose country counts twice as many players of any type, age and level than the other.