Discipline + Defence + Red Shirts: A Winning Formula at the 2010 FIFA World Cup?

The 2010 FIFA World Cup web site has some fascinating information about Spain’s performance at the tournament. In this post I want to draw attention to Spain’s:

  • Discipline
  • Defence

as characteristics of a winning team. There is something about their kit I would like to share too.

I believe their discipline and defence were exceptional. What is important to note is that Spain started the tournament with a defeat to a lower FIFA ranked team.

As background information here are some details about the sixteen teams who appeared in the Knockout Stages of the tournament:

Country Games Goals

For

Goals

Against

Goal Difference Yellow

Cards

Second

Yellow

Red

Cards

Spain 7 8 2 +6 8 0 0
Netherlands 7 12 6 +6 21 1 1
Germany 7 16 5 +11 11 0 0
Uruguay 7 11 8 +3 9 0 1
Paraguay 5 3 2 +1 9 0 0
Brazil 5 9 4 +5 7 0 1
Argentina 5 10 6 +4 7 0 0
Ghana 5 5 4 +1 11 0 0
Portugal 4 7 1 +6 8 0 1
Slovakia 4 5 7 -2 11 0 0
England 4 3 5 -2 6 0 0
Korea 4 6 8 -2 6 0 0
Chile 4 3 5 -2 13 0 0
Mexico 4 4 5 -1 9 0 0
Japan 4 4 2 +2 7 0 0
USA 4 5 5 0 9 0 0

Discipline

Spain had a very small number of yellow cards given to them throughout the tournament. Five of their eight cards were in the Final. Compared to their opponents they had fewer yellow cards and conceded fewer fouls. They received no yellow cards in four of their games.  The game against the Netherlands was the first game of the tournament where Spain were given a yellow card in the first half of a game.

Opponent Fouls  Conceded
Spain Opponent
Switzerland 8 21
Honduras 9 19
Chile 13 21
Portugal 13 18
Paraguay 12 25
Germany 7 9
Netherlands 19 28

Here are the patterns of their games:

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

Game 5

Game 6

Game 7

Spain had an admirable discipline and defence record in the 2010 World Cup. After their first game defeat to Switzerland they conceded only one more goal (Chile in the qualifying group). Spain did not concede a goal in the Knockout Stages of the tournament.

Defence

Spain’s defence was more disciplined than their opponents throughout the tournament in terms of the fouls conceded and in limiting shots at goal. Their performance exemplified the suggestion that attacks win games, defences win championships. The final Group Game (Game 3) was the only occasion when an opponent equalled the number of shots Spain made.

Opponent

Shots

Spain

Opponent

Switzerland

24 8

Honduras

22 9

Chile

9 9

Portugal

19 9

Paraguay

16 9

Germany

13 5

Netherlands

18 13

Red Shirts

Spain is referred to as La Furia Roja. Martin Atrill and his colleagues reported in 2008 that:

Since 1947, English football teams wearing red shirts have been champions more often than expected on the basis of the proportion of clubs playing in red. To investigate whether this indicates an enhancement of long-term performance in red-wearing teams, we analysed the relative league positions of teams wearing different hues. Across all league divisions, red teams had the best home record, with significant differences in both percentage of maximum points achieved and mean position in the home league table. The effects were not due simply to a difference between teams playing in a colour and those playing in a predominantly white uniform, as the latter performed better than teams in yellow hues. No significant differences were found for performance in matches away from home, when teams commonly do not wear their “home” colours. A matched-pairs analysis of red and non-red wearing teams in eight English cities shows significantly better performance of red teams over a 55-year period. These effects on long-term success have consequences for colour selection in team sports, confirm that wearing red enhances performance in a variety of competitive contexts, and provide further impetus for studies of the mechanisms underlying these effects.

Spain played four of their games in the World Cup in red shirts and three in their away, blue, strip. They lost their first and only game of the tournament whilst wearing red shirts. They received the World Cup trophy in their red shirts despite playing the game in their blue shirts.

A Winning Team

The combination of discipline and defence marked Spain out as a distinctive team at this World Cup. In the semi-final against Germany no yellow cards were given to either team. Both teams in that game conceded fewer than ten free kicks each (Spain 7 and Germany 9). Spain’s defence was so effective that they did not concede a goal in the Knockout Stages of the tournament.

Photo Credit

Old and Wise

FIFA World Cup Final in Toronto

Semi Finals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup: Inputs

Going into the semi final games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, these are some of the performance characteristics of the four teams remaining.

Alphabetical

Team
Germany
Netherlands
Spain
Uruguay

Alphabetical and Group Position

Team Qualifying Group Position
Germany 1
Netherlands 1
Spain 1
Uruguay 1

FIFA Ranking May 2010

Team FIFA Rank May 2010
Spain 2
Netherlands 4
Germany 6
Uruguay 16

Games Won

Team Games Won
Netherlands 5
Germany 4
Spain 4
Uruguay 4

Goals Scored

Team Goals Scored
Germany 13
Netherlands 9
Uruguay 7
Spain 6

Yellow Cards

Team Yellow Cards
Spain 3
Uruguay 6
Germany 8
Netherlands 12

Red Cards

Team Red Cards
Germany 0
Netherlands 0
Spain 0
Uruguay 1

Games Played at Altitude

Team Games at Altitude
Spain 3
Uruguay 3
Germany 2
Netherlands 1

Games Played at Sea Level

Team Games at Sea Level
Netherlands 4
Germany 3
Spain 2
Uruguay 2

Some other information

  • Germany and Spain have lost to lower ranked opponents in this tournament.
  • The referee for the Netherlands v Uruguay game has refereed four games at this tournament. His last game was Argentina v Germany.
  • The referee for the Germany v Spain game has refereed three games at this tournament. His last game was USA v Ghana.

After all this information, there is this suggestion too:

Photo Credit

Argentina v Mexico

Penalty Shoot Outs at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

The 2010 World Cup Regulations stipulate that:

In the knockout stages, if a match is level at the end of normal playing time, extra time of two periods of 15 minutes each will be played. If the score is level after extra time, penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner in accordance with the procedure described in the Laws of the Game.

There were 2 penalty shoot outs in the Knockout Stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Game 55 Paraguay v Japan

Paraguay took the first penalty, Japan the second. The scoring sequence of this shoot out was:

1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, Japan miss, 4-2, 4-3, 5-3. Paraguay win.

Game 58 Uruguay v Ghana

Uruguay took the first penalty, Ghana the second. The scoring sequence of this shoot out was:

1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, Ghana miss, Uruguay miss, Ghana miss, 4-2. Uruguay win.

Outcomes of Shoot Out

Higher FIFA Ranking Team

Wins 2

Loses 0

Team that takes the first penalty in the shoot out

Wins 2

Loses 0

Team that scores the first goal in the shoot out

Wins 2

Loses 0

Photo Credit

Santa Maradona