A Cann Diagram to compare Elo Ratings and FIFA Rankings: 2018 World Cup

I have compiled a Cann Diagram to compare Elo Ratings and FIFA Rankings prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Jenny Cann shared her first diagram in 1998. In it she sought to visualise the gaps between teams in the English Premier League in terms of points.

My 2018 version uses rating and ranking positions:

Photo Credit

World Cup Brazil (Diego Sideburns, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Skill and chance in football goal scoring

These data appeared in my in box this morning.

Their arrival took me back to Charles Reep and Bernard Benjamin’s observation fifty years ago:

an excess of shots by one team does not mean that, by chance, the other side will not get more goals and thus win the match (1968:585)

The team that managed 13 shots on goal had an ELO Rating of 4 in Asia and 37 in the World (as of 4 September 2017). The team that had 1 shot on goal had an ELO Rating of 12 in Asia and 108 in the World (as of 4 September 2017).

The game ended as a 2v1 win for the higher ELO rated team.

Charles and Bernard concluded (shortly after the 1966 World Cup):

with rare exceptions (for example, the 1966 World Cup series) it takes 10 shots to score 1 goal. (1968:585)

Prior to the 2v1 result, the higher ELO rated team had scored 14 goals in 9 games, the lower ELO rated team had scored 5 goals (conceded 22) in 9 games.

The data come from a game played at home by the higher rated ELO team.

I am hopeful that these kind of data change our language in training environments. We might stop talking about shooting practice and start conversations about goal scoring practice, rehearsal, scenarios and consequences.

#AC2015 Performance Against Elo Ratings in 32 Games


The Asian Cup 2015 concluded yesterday evening in Sydney.

The Final was the thirty-second game of the Tournament.

I looked at the performance of teams in these 32 games in relation to their Elo Ratings.

Higher Elo rated teams won 24 of the 32 games played at the Tournament. Of these:

  • 22 higher rated teams scored first and won their games.


  • 2 higher rated teams did not score first and won their games


  • 8 Higher Elo rated teams lost to lower rated teams in the Tournament

Of these eight games, DPR Korea (v Saudi Arabia), Uzbekistan (v China) and Iran (v Iraq) scored first and lost. Iran lost to Iraq in a penalty shoot out.

The five games where a lower Elo rated team scored first and won were:


UAE defeated Japan in a penalty shoot out.

The data I used for this post can be found here.

Photo Credit

DSC_0188 (Joshua Sadli, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)