Lessons from FIFA

Some of us watched the recently concluded FIFA World cup during ungodly hours with dreary eyes. Some of you might have wondered on the definition this kind of fun – a bunch of guys run after one ball whereas everyone could have been given one  each. 

Whichever camp you belong to, there is a lot one can learn from these past 4 weeks of soccer action:

Philipp Lahm

Phillipp Lahm, the German captain summarized the victory rather well with a one liner paraphrased here “others have marquee players, we have a team.” If you ponder over this line from him, it is evident that despite huge differences in individual abilities, each member of the team has a role to play. If you build your strategy too much around 1 player, you still may not get close to your goal (well, pun intended). If you do not believe this,  ask Argentina, Portugal, Brazil and so on… (Teams need to identify and strengthen on the collective team’s capabilities.) 

Brazil team

You can be in love with what you do, but not to a point of exclusion of some realities. Passion is a key ingredient, but too much of this could break your back. Ask Brazil, it will be a while before they can keep their  back straight, sadly, too literally for their main player. It is OK to build a stadium by spending your tax payer’s money hoping that your team will play there (and become champions), but not without giving allowance for undesirable outcomes. Run with passion, but hold on to a grain of truth to guide you. (Keep our head balanced and eyes straight on tasks, but do make allowance for realities too) 

USA Portugal goal

It is not over, till it is over. USA was all ready for an upset of Portugal, but for a goal from Portugal in the 91st minute (yes, in the dying seconds of the game). USA supporters may have started to revel on the spoils of this victory, when they were shut out with this goal. (No work is compete till all possible exposures are plugged) 

Costa Rica team

Size or skill may not matter much without self belief. Minnows of Group D (Costa Rica) topped their group. They also extinguished the Greek flame and almost send Netherlands packing. Their  display of soccer was not just reputation in motion, but ambition and skill on a bed rock of courage. You can be God in your chosen profession, but without courage you cannot seize the day. See England, Uruguay and Italy – they were out of sorts with Costa Rica – a nation who does not even have an army! (Courage the virtue on which all other virtues are mounted)

Germany goal

Finally, knowing data helps. Germans studied themselves and the competition closely – they improved their ball handling time from 3.4 secs to 1.1 secs. Imagine  the power of this, each member of the team knows that they need to speed up. Everyone speeds up a bit, the entire team speeds up hugely. (A small act of efficiency by each team member goes a long way for the team).

We could go on with more examples. Key point being it was not just a soccer tournament, but an epitome of strategy and execution. Lot can be learnt from this.

Germany beats Bosnia, Belgium

“Germany beats Bosnia to claim FIFA 2014 Slugfest title, Belgium wins bronze”

Yes. You read that right. Those were the results of our exploration of the physique of teams which participated at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Tall & Short Tales

Each team had a squad of 23 players. Each bar here represents a team, the height of the bar is the average height of players in the team and the width of the bar indicates the average weight. Lets start off by arranging the teams based on their average height.

Team heights

In the 2014 World Cup the Germans were the tallest with an average height of 1.86 m and also the heaviest weighing 79.35 kilos on average.

Mia Hamm the American World Cup Soccer champion said,

“If a team wants to intimidate you physically and you let them, they’ve won.”

It was not just their intimidating physique but also their superior skill and team work that helped the Germans win the World Cup. They were the perfect combination of ‘brain’ & ‘brawn’, demolishing anything that came their way.

Germany team height

The players from Chile were the shortest with an average height of 1.76 m.

Chile team height

And the players from Japan were the lightest weighing 71.43 kgs. Mexico was close at 71.65 kgs.

Japan team weight

European Domination

Amongst the tallest teams, the first 5 were all European! – Germany, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belgium, Croatia & England. Spain was the shortest and lightest of the European teams.

European team height

South America

The South American teams were at the bottom half, Brazil being the tallest of the lot with an average height of 1.82 m.

South American team height

North America

With the exception of the United States (1.83 m) the other North American teams – Costa Rica, Honduras & Mexico – were amongst the shortest.

North American team height

Africa & Asia

The African & Asian teams fill the rest of the gap. The Super Eagles (1.83m) were the tallest African team

African team height

while South Korea (1.84m) was the tallest Asian team.


A European Phenomenon?

Let’s arrange the teams by order of Average Weight and study the Europeans. Out of the 6 teams in the bottom half, with the exception of transcontinental Russia, 5 are Western European – Portugal, Italy, France, the Netherlands & Spain. Note: Teams are now ordered by Average Weight.


BMI Scores

Arranging the teams based on their average BMI scores we find that Cameroon has the highest mean BMI score of 23.67 and Russia and Japan the lowest at 22.58.

Team BMI

The Giants & Giant Killers

Lets now move on to the players themselves. Who were the tallest, shortest, heaviest & lightest players in the 2014 World Cup?

Fraser Forster, the English Goal Keeper was the tallest standing tall at an astonishing 2.01 m.

Fraser Forster

Edgar Salli, the Cameroon forward was the shortest player at 1.63 m.

Edgar Salli

Daniel Van Buyten, the Belgian defender was the heaviest weighing 96 kilos

Daniel Van Buyten

and the Brazilian midfielder Bernard Anicio Caldeira Duarte was the lightest weighing 57 kilos.

Bernard Anicio Caldeira Duarte

Tallest & Heaviest by Player Positions

In most teams it was either a goalkeeper or a defender who was the tallest or heaviest. But there were also exceptions. Notice that a forward was the tallest player in these teams – Chile (Mauricio Pinilla), France (Olivier Giroud), South Korea (Shin-Wook Kim) & Portugal (Hugo Miguel Pereira de Almeida ) – while a midfielder(Reza Haghighi) was the tallest player in the Iranian team.

Tallest player by position

Tallest player by position

The tallest players of France, South Korea & Portugal (all forwards) also happened to be the heaviest in their teams while a forward from Italy (Mario Balotelli ) and another from Chile(Jean Beausejour) were the heaviest in their respective teams.

Heaviest player by position

Heaviest player by position

Before we go, who do you think won the 2010 slugfest? Germany? Wrong! It was the Serbians! Gotcha!

Dear Brazil

Dear Brazil,

7 – 1.

Ouch! Did that hurt?

In case you are wondering what just happened, you’ve just been ‘Blitzkrieged’ .

‘Blitzkrieg’ is a German term which means ‘lightning war’; a war conducted with great speed and force. You may want to read a bit about this World War phenomenon of ours here, to really understand what happened on the 8th of July 2014.

You can take comfort in the fact that we haven’t done this for the first time. In fact, ‘Blitzkrieg’ to us is a habit …

Please see the  image below for our rich ‘blitzkrieg’ history.


We’ve been looking for a big one, and thanks for accepting the invitation.

With Love,
The German Football Team 2014
Finalists Smile