The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (2024)

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Over the last couple of decades, statistics has gradually assumed greater importance within the footballing world.

This is most certainly a far cry from how things were in the sport back in the ‘70s, ‘80s or even the ‘90s.

Arguably, player data is now integral to the decision-making process undertaken at most football clubs today.

Here’s my list of top recommendations:

Image

Product

Features

Rating

Our #1 Rated

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (1)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (2)

Soccernomics

  • Written by Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski

  • 576 pages

81%

Best Value

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (3)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (4)

Football Hackers:The Science and Art of a Data Revolution

  • Written by Christoph Biermann

  • 304 pages

79%

Best Budget

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (5)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (6)

The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong

  • Written by Chris Anderson

  • 400 pages

73%

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (7)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (8)

Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game

  • Written by David Sumpter

  • 352 pages

72%

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (9)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (10)

Outside the Box: A Statistical Journey Through the History of Football

  • Written by Duncan Alexander

  • 352 pages

70%

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (11)The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (12)

The Expected Goals Philosophy: A Game-Changing Way of Analysing Football

  • Written by James Tippett

  • 220 pages

63%

The Soccernomics Book is an award-winning title that beats the rest of the pack as a result of its depth, not to mention the fine amount of granular detail that has been conveyed throughout the text.

For those of you who are looking to make a quick purchase, I’d highly recommend an Audible membership, because with Amazon’s generous 30-day free trial you can scoop up any of the aforementioned titles without spending a single penny!

That means instant access to the world’s largest selection of audiobooks and podcasts on any Android or iOS enabled device.

So, it’s worth checking out either a Audible UK membership or an alternative Audible US one.

I’m now going dissect the best football analytics books by providing even greater insight into some of the fascinating ways that data driven tools and metrics are used in the sport today.

Let’s begin…

Table Of Contents

  1. 1. Football Hackers: The Science and Art of a Data Revolution
  2. 2. The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football Is Wrong
  3. 3. Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game
  4. 4. Soccernomics
  5. 5. The Expected Goals Philosophy: A Game Changing Way of Analysing Football
  6. 6. Outside the Box: A Statistical Journey Through the History of Football
  7. 7. Data Analytics in Football: Positional Data Collection, Modelling and Analysis
  8. How football clubs use analytical data today
    • Player recruitment
    • Monitoring fitness levels and tracking match performance
  9. Final recommendation

1. Football Hackers: The Science and Art of a Data Revolution

Sale

Football Hackers by Christoph Biermann

  • Biermann, Christoph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/30/2019 (Publication Date) - Blink Publishing (Publisher)

The author of this fantastic title – Christoph Biermann – has spoken with numerous scientists, managers, scouts and psychologists involved in the game to provide a balanced account of the growing influence of data within football.

He emphasises that winning in football no longer takes place solely on the field, but also in the boardroom as club executives and data analysts seek to gain extra competitive advantages over their rivals by way of innovation.

Benefits

  • The data analysis techniques presented in the book are presented in an easy to follow manner, which shouldn’t put off those who struggle with mathematical concepts
  • Provides thought provoking knowledge on concepts like expected goals, packing and “dangerosity”

Drawbacks

  • In a section of the book, the reader is introduced to people that use quantitative methods to analyse football but this section fails to provide further insight into this aspect of data analysis

2. The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football Is Wrong

Sale

The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally

  • Anderson, Chris (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 06/05/2014 (Publication Date) - Penguin (Publisher)

Chris Anderson – a former goalkeeper who is now a football statistics guru – and David Sally – a former baseball pitcher turned behavioural economist – debunk the commonly misplaced myths about the game in this great book called The Numbers Game.

Football has always used numbers to represent certain in-game concepts.

Look at formations for example, with shapes like 4-4-2, 3-4-3 and 4-5-1 using numbers to denote how many players are positioned in each strata of the field.

Or how the game uses 3 points to signify a win and 1 point to signify a draw.

Numbers have always played a part in making the game what we know and love today, but there’s more…

In this book you’ll learn why preventing a goal is more valuable than scoring one at the opposite end; why corners should be taken short and why it’s better to improve the worst player on the roster than to splash out for a world-renowned superstar.

Benefits

  • Match scenarios like the optimal time to making substitutions and the comparison between the worth of scoring and conceding was presented very well

Drawbacks

  • There is a fair bit of repetition in the book, which makes for a less entertaining read
  • There is a flaw in their analysis when comparing football to other sports as they failed to account for the fact that in football there are 3 outcomes – win, draw and lose – whereas in American sports it’s only wins or losses.

3. Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game

Sale

Soccermatics by David Sumpter

  • Sumpter, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 03/09/2017 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury Sigma (Publisher)

The premise behind Soccermatics is that in order to make sense of the shot statistics, league tables patterns of play and tactical shapes, we need to understand the mathematical models that are applied in physics, biology and economics.

Soccermatics therefore binds together mathematics and football, with numbers used to reveal some of the inner workings of the game.

The author – David Sumpter – has done extensive research on some of the world’s most famous footballers and teams, and he reveals the fruits of his meetings with some of the professionals who utilise numbers and statistics for performance enhancement within the game.

Benefits

  • The chapter on player recruitment was fairly relevant to the direction that data analysis is taking at present to support football clubs
  • There was an insightful section on betting techniques that are used to predict outcomes of games

Drawbacks

  • One of the main flaws was in David Sumpter’s use of behaviours in the natural world amongst organisms in comparison to players on a football field. For example, how animals or insects might congregate together and how this could be read across to the soccer pitch.

4. Soccernomics

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski

  • Kuper, Simon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 05/31/2018 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

In the world of football literature, Soccernomics is one of the most widely recognised and recommended titles.

And for very good reason.

Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski provide excellent answers to some of the biggest questions that football fans want to know, such as why England frequently lose whilst the likes of Germany and Brazil win more often than not.

Focus is also paid to Spain’s period of international dominance and why so many clubs fail to recruit the right players.

Benefits

  • The early chapters of the book are very engrossing, as they couple fact-based presentation with insight and analysis from the viewpoint of an economist
  • Interesting anecdotes on the Ajax and Barcelona academies

Drawbacks

  • Failed to tackle some largely important aspects of football such as hooliganism and crowd safety
  • Too many comparisons made between football and baseball due to the success of the popular book called Moneyball

5. The Expected Goals Philosophy: A Game Changing Way of Analysing Football

The Expected Goals Philosophy by James Tippett

  • Tippett, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 220 Pages - 11/08/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Football fanatics and casual fans alike will often have heard of the expected goals metric that’s often used to analyse performance.

Such is its significance that even professional gamblers draw on this data point in order to determine which teams are worth a lucrative bet.

And then you’ve got club scouts also using it to scope for the hidden gems in the transfer market.

Expected goals is big business.

Yet despite its ever-growing importance in football, the majority of casual fans still don’t fully understand what the expected goals term is, or when to apply it correctly when analysing a player’s performance.

The Expected Goals Philosophy sets out to put things straight.

Readers will learn all about the methodology which has seen English Championship side Brentford battle for promotion on a couple of occasions, along with amassing more than £100 million in transfer revenue as a result of their use of the expected goals metric in their player recruitment.

Benefits

  • The expected goals model is explained succinctly and a reader doesn’t need to be moderately academic to understand the nuances behind it

Drawbacks

  • There is too much repetition in terms of content and language used
  • Limited use of statistics to back up the content of the book or to aid with comparative analysis

6. Outside the Box: A Statistical Journey Through the History of Football

Sale

Outside the Box by Duncan Alexander

  • Hardcover Book
  • Alexander, Duncan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Back in the day, the numbers and performance metrics didn’t mean much in the world of football.

It was certainly a simpler time, with teams mainly focused with succeeding on the pitch.

Players didn’t have to adhere to the meticulous dietary and fitness regiments that they have to today.

Outside the Box uncovers when the numbers started to become more important to various stakeholders within football, and it offers a thoroughly detailed explanation of what the numbers mean.

The author – Duncan Alexander – reflects on the 28-year life of the Premier League and demystifies the mysths surrounding the game whilst at the same time revealing some hidden truths.

Armed with OptaJoe archives and tonnes of data, he explains why Liverpool have had a lengthy trophy drought and reveals whether Messi is the greatest footballer of all time.

You’ll have to pick this title up and find out the answer to these questions!

Benefits

  • Each chapter focuses on a specific season and chapter endings include a statistical overview of each season which is a nice touch
  • Contains numerous Premier League facts which offer plenty of insight for casual and dedicated fans alike

Drawbacks

  • Disappointing lack of info graphics or innovative statistical investigation given the author’s access to Opta statistics

7. Data Analytics in Football: Positional Data Collection, Modelling and Analysis

Data Analytics in Football by Daniel Memmert

  • Memmert, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 186 Pages - 06/14/2018 (Publication Date) - Routledge (Publisher)

This last recommendation is a totally data driven one.

Daniel Memmert and Dominik Raabe explore how positional data on players can be collected, modelled and analysed and they challenge some of the sports longest held assumptions by way of cutting-edge methodology.

Some of the topics covered in this title include the emergence of positional data analysis and the benefits of a data driven approach to decision making in football.

Data Analytics in Football contains data collected from the German Bundeliga and UEFA Champions League and is supplemented with interviews from some esteemed professionals within the industry such as Ralf Ragnick and Urs Siegenthaler.

How football clubs use analytical data today

There are two main ways in which this info-centric part of the game is of use to clubs:

Player recruitment

These days most football clubs have extensive scouting networks across each and every continent.

But with data now widely available, clubs can create a shortlist of players who have statistics that fit a particular profile, all without having to leave the training centre.

There’s a case of a team in Eastern Europe that employed a company called 21st club that specialises in this field of work.

Using 21st Club’s tool – which calculates the historical link between a player’s on pitch actions alongside overall team performance level and subsequently assigning an overall rating – a player who was earning 25% less than the average player on the client’s shortlist and who was better than all but one on the said shortlist, was identified.

Monitoring fitness levels and tracking match performance

Companies like STATSports are making significant sums as their GPS sports vests are used by some of the biggest teams in world football as a way of measuring and monitoring the fitness of players.

These vests are able to track various metrics such as:

  • Total distance covered
  • Maximum heart rate
  • Dynamic stress count
  • Maximum sprint speed

It goes without saying that the increased prize money available and the fierce competitiveness within the sport has lead to clubs seeking to eke out any possible legal advantage to get an edge over their rivals.

Clubs will want their athletes in tip top shape for matches and they can only be sure that their athletes are in the best physical condition by using the data at their disposal to keep an eye on their performance in training.

Look at Milner go here!

Final lap of the gruelling lactate test 👟👟👟@JamesMilner 🆚 @J_Gomez97

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 6, 2019

Now reading all that should have enlightened you on why clubs use data so extensively.

Final recommendation

Ultimately, from this blog post you should have been able to deduce the fact that data driven insights are playing an increasingly important role in several facets of the sport today.

If I was to pick and place one of the recommendations in this post above the rest in the list of the best football analytics books, I would vouch for Soccernomics; not only due to its overwhelming popularity among football readers, but also because it looks at analytics from multiple angles as opposed to most of the other titles.

The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (27)

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The Best Football Analytics Books to Read [2023 Buying Guide] (2024)

FAQs

How do you get into football analytics? ›

To get a job in football analytics, you need a strong knowledge of the subject. One option is to a university degree in the subject. There are many different courses available which will offer you a thorough education in the subject, although they do take at least three years to complete and tuition fees are expensive.

What software do football analysts use? ›

Football Analysis Software Nacsport is the perfect tool for football video analysis. Our software provides a full suite of tools which gives you deep insights in the game of football.

What's the best site for football? ›

Most Visited American Football Websites
RankWebsiteCategory
1nfl.comSports > American Football
2afl.com.auSports > American Football
3rugbyrama.frSports > American Football
4nrl.comSports > American Football
46 more rows

How do you Analyse a football book? ›

FOOTBALL DECODED: Using Match Analysis & Context to Interpret the Demands : Bradley, Dr Paul S: Amazon.co.uk: Books.

Which NFL teams use analytics the most? ›

For the last few years, ESPN has surveyed the league's analytics staffers to gauge teams' involvement with analytics. Its most recent survey, released last December, rated the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Eagles as three most analytically advanced teams.

How to get into sports data analytics? ›

Requirements and Qualifications
  1. Bachelor's degree in statistics, data science, sports science, or a related field (Master's degree preferred).
  2. Proven experience as a Data Analyst, preferably in the sports industry.
  3. Proficiency in data analysis tools and programming languages, such as Python, R, SQL, or similar.

Is Wyscout worth it? ›

Wyscout — If you're wanting data form a massive pool of leagues, Wyscout is worth the investment. It's approx £210 for the year, and includes all EFL Leagues, National League, Belgian First division and many more. Admittedly, the data is not as reliable as Statsbomb or OPTA.

What do football analysts look for? ›

Match Analysis: Analyze football matches by tracking player movements, tactical formations, and key events. Break down offensive and defensive strategies, identifying strengths and weaknesses. Player Performance Evaluation: Assess individual player performance by analyzing statistics, heat maps, and video footage.

Is Wyscout data reliable? ›

A Global Library of Data

Wyscout collects accurate, play-by-play data from more than 300 competitions worldwide, allowing clubs to make every decision with objectivity. The areas in which Wyscout data can be implemented are many, from scouting to player development and performance analysis.

What website for football data? ›

Sportmonks has one of the largest data coverages in the market with over 2,000 football leagues. We cover everything from national leagues like La Liga to international club tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, as well as international matches like the European Championships.

What is the best football app to download? ›

Soccer Apps
  • FotMob - Soccer Live Scores. ...
  • LiveScore: Live Sports Scores. ...
  • 365scores. ...
  • All Football - News & Scores. ...
  • Sky Sports. ...
  • Live Soccer TV. ...
  • Futbol24. ...
  • Onefootball. Onefootball is one of the best apps that you can find for Android devices that allows to follow all of the soccer championships around the...

What app is good for live football? ›

1. An Overview of Best Live Football TV Apps
Live Stream AppOperating SystemGoogle Play Rating
FuboAndroid, iOS, Web3.8
ESPNAndroid, iOS, Web4.3
Amazon Prime VideoAndroid, iOS, Win4.2
Live Soccer TVAndroid, iOS, Web4.8
6 more rows
Mar 26, 2024

What is the best way to Analyse football predictions? ›

Always try to assess the likelihood of a particular scenario and find its true value. Find the real odds by yourself and only after that compare them to the ones offered by the bookmaker. This approach will help you easily reveal the bookmaker's mistake and, as a result, provide you with some value.

How can I be a good football analyst? ›

Research skills - analysts need to be able to complete detailed research and present their findings in a comprehensive way. Communication skills - just being able to analyse and research isn't quite enough – you also need to be able to communicate your knowledge with confidence and clarity.

What is the QB read? ›

In a read option play, the quarterback has only one teammate to whom he can pitch or hand the ball, and he typically "reads" the initial movement of the defensive end when deciding whether to run a keeper or hand it off.

What do football analytics do? ›

Performance Analysis

This data provides insights into a player's speed, distance covered, heart rate, and even the angle of their passes. Such granular data allows teams to identify strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to tailor training regimens and game strategies accordingly.

How much money is in sports analytics? ›

The global Sports Analytics market size was valued at USD 2591.14 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 23.13% during the forecast period, reaching USD 9031.74 million by 2027.

How do you become a fantasy football analyst? ›

All candidates must have a history of published content with a proven track record of providing quality advice. Each fantasy expert will be tasked with creating content in a variety of formats including, but not limited to articles, player notes, rankings, news updates, podcast appearances, and video advice.

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