Ted Lasso’s BELIEVE versus Reality

Posted Jan 28, 2022

Fans of television’s Ted Lasso will understand the power of BELIEVE. Unfortunately, mathematics paints a very different picture when predicting who will win soccer matches for under-sourced teams. According to PHYS.ORG, in a recent article from Royal Society Open Science, Oxford researchers Victor Martins Maimone and Taha Yasseri report on their findings from an analysis of 88,000 professional football (soccer) matches. The data were collected spanning the years 1993-2019 and included records from teams across the globe, including Scotland, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, and England’s Premier League.

Maimone and Yasseri constructed a mathematical model that accurately predicts game winners an astonishing 75% of the time. What’s more, their statistics became increasingly accurate as the model was tested over the course of years, with outcomes becoming easier and easier to predict. In fact, when the researchers ran the data from the latter years, results conclusively showed inequality of resources as the largest loading predictive factor in their analysis.

It seems belief can only get you so far. Oh, and home field advantage — that’s a myth. Sorry, Ted.

Jeffrey Smith, Ph.D. 
MAEM Graduate Director 

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