Sport

156 players have reached the top ten of the ATP men’s singles rankings since they were established in 1973. How do they compare on success and longevity?

Find out in our interactive graphic Read more

It is said that money makes the world go round, but in football’s transfer market we can be a little more specific on that money’s provenance. Our interactive graphic explores the net spend of the 265 clubs in world football to have each spent £10m or more in total since 1980, grouped by country.

Any guesses on the identity of the country whose clubs spend the most? Read more

The game’s highly paid stars seeking bans to get holiday time off appears to be a myth Read more

goal scorers, Champions League and European Cup

By Wednesday night it is almost certain there will be a new name atop the goal scoring charts of European club football’s elite competition.

Lionel Messi currently sits level with former Real Madrid star Raul on 71 goals, and behind them is Cristiano Ronaldo on 70. Either Messi or Ronaldo could become the outright leader when their sides play on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

And the fierce competition between Messi and Ronaldo may even be ushering in a new higher scoring era. The goals-per-game ratio across all players declined steadily from four per match in the late 1950s to settle around 2.5 in the past decade, but has jumped back up to three in the past five seasons.

Looking back across the Champions League and its predecessor the European Cup, the 100 highest scoring players are packed with modern greats. And this is no coincidence – there are 126 matches in the current format, excluding qualifiers, up from fewer than 60 in the early years of the European Cup.

But that hasn’t stopped some of the greats of yesteryear breaking into the upper echelons of that top 100.

Alfredo di Stefano – one of 22 Real Madrid players on the list – scored 49 goals in the 1950s and 1960s, placing him sixth in the all-time rankings. Portugal and Benfica star Eusebio is two places behind on 46. So what happens when we adjust the absolute goal tallies for the number of matches each player took part in?

Eusebio tops the rankings, followed by former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy. Messi, Raul and Ronaldo complete the top five, and then Ronaldo’s team mate Karim Benzema is sandwiched between two men who stopped playing before he was born – di Stefano and the Hungarian Ferenc Puskas. Read more

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

Pity the white queen’s pawn. It tends to survive only one in every four games.

That statistic comes from an analysis of 2.2m master-level tournament games conducted by Oliver Brennan. But statistical analysis has found that overall white wins about 37 per cent of the time to Black’s 28 per cent. Read more

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

In the latest instalment of The Baseline, our weekly feature on sports statistics, we looked ahead to the ATP Tour Finals, the climax of the men’s tennis season.

The tournament is played on a hard court surface, which goes some way to nullifying the relative advantages afforded to big serving and big returning players by grass and clay courts respectively. But where exactly does hard court fall between those two extremes, and what can this tell us about its impact on the playing styles of grass and clay specialists? Read more

By Jurek Martin, Gavin Jackson and John Burn-Murdoch

In the latest instalment of The Baseline, our weekly feature on sports statistics, we looked at baseball statistician Bill James and the impact his insight and methods have had on not just one but arguably all sports.

Bill James began dissecting the numbers behind baseball in the late 1970s and among his acolytes was Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics and inspiration for Michael Lewis’ best selling book Moneyball. Such was Oakland and Beane’s success that the stats-driven approach has transcended baseball and now has its adherents in hockey, football, tennis, golf and dozens more of the world’s biggest sports Read more

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Between them Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more than 300 league goals in the last four seasons of Spain’s La Liga, but which player provides more goals for their team? Read more

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the world’s top goalscorers. And next weekend will see them pitted against each other in what might be the biggest rivalry in sport: El Clásico, the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
 Read more

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

In the latest instalment of The Baseline, our weekly feature on sports statistics, we looked at Serena Williams’ dominance of women’s tennis over the last decade.

Williams has won 17 of the 43 grand slam tournaments she has entered since the 2002 French Open, and the reasons for her success can be explained with a look at performance data for the top players of the modern era Read more

By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

In the fourth instalment of The Baseline, our weekly feature on sports statistics, we looked at how overtaking in Formula One has changed over the years.

For decades it appeared the aggressive passing move was a dying art, but everything changed in 2011. Read on to find out why, and what it means for this year’s title tussle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Read more

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By John Burn-Murdoch and Gavin Jackson

In the third instalment of The Baseline, our weekly feature on sports statistics, we looked at how much we can learn about the final outcome of the Premier League from the season so far.

For the story click here, or keep reading to find out how we worked it out. Read more

With the 40th Ryder Cup about to get underway at Gleneagles, we wanted to know if we’ve been misled by one of golf’s greatest myths.

The saying goes that you “drive for show, and putt for dough” – in other words an impressive shot off the tee may win you a few whoops from the fans, but it’s your putting game that will win or lose tournaments.

We used data from the PGA Tour to analyse the relative impacts of the long and short game on players’ success. Read more

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You drive for show and putt for dough. Or do you? We analysed data from the PGA Tour to test golf’s great aphorism Read more

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Liverpool were without Raheem Sterling for the first hour as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa, highlighting the teenager’s importance to the team.

Just how much has Sterling improved since he broke into the first team in the 2012/13 season? We used data from Opta to analyse and visualise his rapid development. Read more

In case you’ve forgotten, England did take part in the 2014 World Cup. But despite uncharacteristically low expectations from the watching English public, Roy Hodgson’s side slunk under this low bar, flying home after two defeats and a goalless draw with the global footballing powerhouse Costa Rica.

What went wrong? Countless theories abound – some better than others – but some relatively simple maths may be able to explain at least one of the factors involved: statistically speaking, England were bereft of luck. Read more

736 players have travelled to Brazil for the World Cup. The diagrams below show how their individual skillsets help create their national team’s identity. Read more

Keith Fray

Sachin Tendulkar, India’s greatest batsman, is to retire from all forms of cricket, after playing two more international matches (Tests) to take his total to 200.

This is the most Tests played by anyone, and over 30 more than the next two cricketers in line – former Australian skippers Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh.

Cricket fans – in common with baseball nuts – love lists. And Tendulkar sits at the top of most. Read more