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