World Cup Weekend – France v Argentina

Build up through Umtiti and Pogba has gone wider far more often than it does through Varane and Kante where it stays narrow.

Griezmann has struggled to have a positive impact. There has been no incisiveness in his passing yet, and penalty apart he’s struggled to get involved in front of goal in good areas:

In defence, France have been great at restricting the opposition’s chances. Les Bleus have conceded less xG from open play situations than any other team.

That said, France appear to have a problem down the right hand side according to pressure measures. Mbappe covering either right back option Pavard or Sidibe does not particulary have a good look.

Conversely, of the teams who qualified for the 2nd Round, Argentina were one of the least great sides for restricting opposition chances in open play.

The weakness is down the left hand side too, which bodes well for Mbappe.

The South American’s also have a goalkeeping issue with Caballero ranking as one of the worst keepers at the tournament so far, and back ups Armani and Guzman having very little international experience.

Up front, notwithstanding Messi’s woeful penalty, and brilliantly taken goal against Nigeria that anyone less human wouldn’t have made into a chance, the Barcelona man has struggled to get into good areas to shoot:

La Albiceleste have a major creativity problem. Put simply, Sampaoli must play Banega to link up with Messi according to my passing model.

Both sides have structural issues, but according to the numbers, France are fairly clear favourites. Once again, it’ll be up to Messi to do something about it.

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The Differentgame Handbook of the Premier League (for kids)

My children (both Primary School age) often ask Dad what on earth he’s doing looking at lists of numbers to do with football.

“It looks boring.”

And then one of them went to Coding Club at school, started knocking about with a Raspberry Pi, talking about Python and writing a program to turn a bulb on and off.

“So what does it all mean then, Dad?”

And then…

“I want a book to tell me about all the teams.”

I was taken back to a handbook I had for the 1986-7 season when Everton last won the league. It had all the football league clubs in it. Some facts and figures, pictures and a brief summary of how each team had done. I loved it. But it wasn’t just a list of numbers like the Rothman’s guide or whatever.

And it occured to me I have all that stuff at my finger tips. So I wrote one for my children, trying to make some football analytics stuff understable for kids.

I’ve made the first part available for download. I haven’t put the whole thing on there as it’s a present for my poor offspring. It’s designed to be printed out, but will look ok on a tablet:

Differentgame Handbook

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