A quick google search for ’soccer statistics’ pulls up an interesting article in the New York Times from 2008. With quite an impressive comment section as well.
According to the by-line “Carl Bialik examines the way numbers are used, and abused.” The article is somewhat well written, explaining how teams are using much more advanced statistical tracking programs such as Pro-Zone, and what the right applications are for those programs. Also, chalking up pure luck to the success of many soccer teams (which is completely false in my opinion.)
The benchmark for sports statistics is Sabremetrics, and the book Moneyball, written by Michael Lewis. In it, Lewis describes the rise of the Oakland A’s baseball team through the use of complex statistical analysis to best predict the outcome of a match.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael M. Lewis, released in 2003, about the general manager of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane, and his rather unconventional approach to running that organization. The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics like 60 yard dash times, RBIs, and batting average that are typically used to gauge players are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time - ArmChairGM
The divide between soccer and baseball is the fluidity of the game. Baseball can be determined by a few variables (pitcher, batter, count for instance) whereas in soccer, there are hundreds of variables which come into play each time a statistic is kept.
Critics state, “Statistics cannot accurately predict the score of a game, because numbers alone cannot predict a player’s performance.”
Exactly, we all know that. Anyone who thinks stats can predict the outcome alone is foolish. Soccer is a game that is often decided by a few events which result in a goal or a defensive lapse conceding a goal to your opponent.
If you know your right back is not able to string passes out of the backfield to the midfielders, then maybe it is time for a switch. Most teams do not keep track of stats, so they don’t know the time to replace a player, and when to keep him in.
The important idea to remember is a combination of statistics and a coaches intuition can greatly improve your chance at winning, or fielding the most successful team out of your given options.