Journal of Systems Science and Complexity

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 21–42 | Cite as

A network analysis of the 2010 FIFA world cup champion team play

  • Carlos Cotta
  • Antonio M. Mora
  • Juan Julián Merelo
  • Cecilia Merelo-Molina


This paper analyzes the network of passes among the players of the Spanish team during the last FIFA World Cup 2010, where they emerged as the champion, with the objective of explaining the results obtained from the behavior at the complex network level. The team is considered a network with players as nodes and passes as (directed) edges. A temporal analysis of the resulting passes network is also done, looking at the number of passes, length of the chain of passes, and to network measures such as player centrality and clustering coefficient. Results of the last three matches (the decisive ones) indicate that the clustering coefficient of the pass network remains high, indicating the elaborate style of the Spanish team. The effectiveness of the opposing team in negating the Spanish game is reflected in the change of several network measures over time, most importantly in drops of the clustering coefficient and passing length/speed, as well as in their being able in removing the most talented players from the central positions of the network. Spain’s ability to restore their combinative game and move the focus of the game to offensive positions and talented players is shown to tilt the balance in favor of the Spanish team.

Key words

Complex network complex systems FIFA World Cup football La Roja network analysis soccer Spanish team sports 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Systems Science, Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Cotta
    • 1
  • Antonio M. Mora
    • 2
  • Juan Julián Merelo
    • 2
  • Cecilia Merelo-Molina
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of MálagaMálagaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Architecture and Computer TechnologyUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

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