Intellectualising the World Cup, no.2

The wonderful Stumbling and Mumbling contributes the second in the series implied in my first post on this topic, intellectualising the penalty. That is, here’s another post which delves beyond the “game of two halves” to see what lies beneath the game of football.

This time, we get national stereotypes and penalties:

One of the delights of the coming World Cup will be commentators’ liberal use of cliché: the Brazilians play the beautiful game, Italians are defensive, Germans efficient and, of course, Africans are naïve at the back. However, cliches can be true, as this new paper shows. The authors studied 1564 competitive internationals involving six teams. And they found that the Germans are more likely to score in the last minute of a game. They did so in 5.5% of games. By contrast, Brazil did so in only 2.1% of their games and Italy in just 2.2% of them…

And one other thing: Germany really are better at penalties. In shoot-outs since 1960, they have scored with 94% of their penalties, whereas England have scored with just 50% and Italy with 65%.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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