Stephen Hawking, for whatever reason, spent some time digging up soccer stats for Paddy Power that could help nudge the English side to a World Cup win. It's fascinating, mostly for the premise of Stephen Hawking being mixed up with Paddy Power.
Elder of contemporary physics going in with a site that took prop bets on whether or not President Barack Obama would "finish his first term" aside (assassination odds were a lowballed 16-1, if you were wondering), Hawking didn't make a broad-reaching model, or make projections for the tournament at large. He did have a few interesting takeaways, though.
- England fares much better with European referees (68 percent win rate) than it does with refs from anywhere else (38 percent).
- A rise in temperature of five degrees Celsius decreases English odds of winning 59 percent.
- The English also play much, much worse above 500m above sea level, and after 3 p.m. local time, though how they adapt by hemisphere is unmentioned.
The penalty data is actually pretty neat:
Let's start with the technique. Velocity is key. For this reason, get a run up of more than three steps. Give it some welly. There is only a 58% probability of scoring if your run up is three steps or less. Considerably less than the normal 87% probability of scoring otherwise.
However, velocity is nothing without placement. If only I had whispered this in Chris Waddle's ear before he sent the ball into orbit in 1990. Use the side foot rather than laces and you are 10% more likely to score.