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PSG are so far ahead of their domestic rivals that manager Laurent Blanc has been able to field weakened sides ahead of big Champions League matches at a rate unmatched by any other quarter-finalist, ensuring that his strongest side has been as well-rested as possible. Read more
Hosts India squeezed into the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Twenty20 World Cup largely thanks to a sensational innings from their star batsman Virat Kohli, who hit 82 off 51 balls, without losing his wicket, to take India past Australia and eliminate their opponents in the process.
In doing so he scored more than half of all India’s runs for the match — having almost managed the same two games earlier, scoring 46 per cent of the team’s total in another crucial win, this time against Pakistan. Read more
The interplay between competitive balance and outright quality of football is a complex one, and depending on who you talk to, different levels of importance are placed on each when it comes to talk of which league is the best. Read more
Premier League’s 4th Champions League spot is at risk, and keeping hold of it is about to get harder
The Premier League could lose its fourth Champions League berth within two years, and things will only get more difficult the year after that.
England’s top flight will be given four places in Europe’s elite club tournament next season whatever happens, but the different leagues’ rankings in Uefa’s member association coefficient rankings as they stand at the end of the current season will determine the number of berths each receives in the 2017-18 tournament. Read more
It’s not just the money: quality of signings suggest China could become a major power in club football
The Chinese Super League has cropped up in football conversations for several years now, but until recently it was in the context of it being one of the sport’s so called ‘retirement homes’: lesser leagues, where prominent Europe-based players only go for a final bulging pay packet and a relatively easy ride. This winter, that all changed, as several genuine global stars — many still in their prime — arrived on big money deals from major European clubs Read more
The Red Devils have hardly undergone a Chelsea-esque implosion — they sit in 5th place at the time of writing — but the Old Trafford faithful have grown increasingly restless, an undercurrent of discontent growing into a crescendo of criticism as perceived lacklustre performances have been followed by the poor results many felt they deserved.
According to an FT analysis, those perceptions are backed up by the statistics. After seven years of near-unbroken dominance in terms of their results, Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from the post of manager was followed by a dramatic decline.
By the end of David Moyes’ solitary term in charge, Man United’s results — after adjusting for opposition quality — didn’t even put them among the fourth strongest sides in the league. The arrival of Louis van Gaal brought about a recovery: by the end of his first campaign the club was — only just — back among the four strongest sides in the league in terms of results. Read more
Thus comes to an end his second spell at the reins of the club. The first ended in relative stagnation, but the second was truly a meteoric rise and fall.
With the aid of a statistical examination of the last 15 seasons, we can see the best and worst of Mourinho, and get a clue as to some of what went wrong this time around. Read more
Last week Garry Monk became the seventh Premier League manager to be dismissed by his club in 2015, and the 11th top flight departure overall in the same period when resignations and contract expiries are included.
Monk had been in the job for just under two years, and while you could be forgiven for thinking this is precious little time, it actually comes in at almost twice the median across all Premier League managers in 2015. Read more
Jamie Vardy’s record-setting Premier League goalscoring streak for Leicester City has been hailed as one of the most remarkable individual achievements of modern English football, but how does it compare to similar feats elsewhere?
Many have pointed out that Vardy’s run of scoring in 11 successive top flight English matches remains behind that of Jimmy Dunne, who made it to 12 for Sheffield United in 1931/32.
But given how much the game has changed over the intervening 60-plus years in terms of tactics, fitness and other factors, perhaps a better way of contextualising his record is to compare it to those of his contemporaries. Read more
Ever since the Open Era began in 1968, we can identify the individuals and their periods of success. First came Laver, Rosewall and Newcombe; next was Borg’s reign, bookended by Connors, McEnroe and Lendl. Wilander and Becker ushered in the ’90s before giving way to Sampras and Agassi.
Federer, Nadal and now Djokovic have run the show since then, but there is no heir apparent. The average age of the ATP top 10 is 29.7 — the highest it has ever been — with an unprecedented five of its current members aged over 30. Read more
The last time athletics was engulfed by doping concerns of the volume seen last week was the 1980s, when performance enhancing substances including testosterone were commonplace among elite competitors.
This doping dark age left a mark still visible today in the form of records set decades ago that are still yet to be broken – and in some cases yet even to be approached. Read more
A dozen games into the new Premier League season, Chelsea’s title defence has been anaemic, and few — if any — saw it coming. But with the aid of hindsight, shots data and the Elo ratings system, we can obtain a clue as to exactly when their troubles began: January 1 2015. Read more
Wins earlier in October against Israel and Andorra will see the team leapfrog Argentina and Germany when Fifa’s rankings are updated next month, but how highly do alternative systems rate the Red Devils? Read more
How do standard of play and level of competition vary across Europe’s top leagues, and can this tell us which provides the best football?
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Was it a one-off, or a sign of an underlying issue? And how does his rival Rafael Nadal compare when it comes to winning the biggest points in tennis? Find out in our interactive graphic Read more
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
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