Visualising football: title odds, shot dominance and winning streaks

An irregular round-up of visualisations on a single topic: this month, football!

Who will win the Premier league?

FiveThirtyEight is best known for its political coverage, but founder Nate Silver has a baseball background and the site regularly covers US sports.

Yesterday they launched a new interactive including team ratings, odds for upcoming matches and forecasts for the top 5 European domestic leagues and the Champions League.

There is lots to explore, but I wanted to compare the way FiveThirtyEight chose to visualise their Premier League predictions compared to the’s recent effort

(If you are interested in how the methodology of the two predictions differ, there is a good summary on John Burn-Murdoch’s twitter page).

I much prefer the FT’s version. Both visualisations are ordered by the expected final standings, but the FT version displays the relative strengths of the different teams much more intuitively, and the break from the visual norm is more eye-catching than FiveThirtyEight’s more traditional league table layout.

Shot dominance

Moving down a division, this graph which shows exactly why I have attended fewer Ipswich Town games this season than in the previous twenty.

experimental_361A scatterplot is the perfect choice here, with clubs divided into clear, descriptive quadrants, and interest to be found in comparing their position in the chart to their position in the league.

Winning streaks

The next visualisation by Jorge Camoes shows performance over an entire La Liga season (the original can be downloaded from

The good news is that this is actually a standard chart from Excel 2010 onwards – just go to Insert > Sparklines > Win / Loss (using 1, 0, -1 for W, D, L).

I do like the simplicity of this method – in his book, Camoes suggests using a dot or horizontal line for a draw, but even without this it is the Barcelona of Excel default graphs.


The Guardian took a more creative route to show similar data, visualising Leicester’s winning streaks as shapes oddly reminiscent of a string of carrots – the interactivity is fun though!

guardian_leicesterWhich brings us back to the start – what odds would FiveThirtyEight or the FT have given Leicester last season before they pulled off the second most impressive rise to become champions of England since World War Two?

And yes, I do mean the second most impressive 🙂



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