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Futbol: still the only team sport not to have been overrun by stat nerds

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Rejoice. No, really. Now, I'm with most of you when it comes to stats. The more the merrier. The more advanced they get, the better you can gauge the player's value to a team. But every once in while, you want to be surprised by the statistical anomalies, which the statheads chalk it up to variation at first, and then if the pattern persists they wave their hand and attribute it to the human element. Sometimes you just have to throw the book out on certain players. To quote Michael Lewis' account of the thoughts of Billy Beane's skeptical scouts in Moneyball, "Who cares about the stats? You have to look at the player. Imagine what he'll become." The beautiful game of soccer is the sport for that. There is no metric to quantify field vision, instincts, other-worldly dribbling ability, or a coach's ill-suited scheme. Take the last item. If you follow soccer even just casually, you know Lionel Messi is The Man just by the number of goals he scored for Barcelona. But pundits are prepared to rip up the stat sheet if indeed Argentina coach Maradona's defend-and-counter tactics holds back Messi's talents, which thrive in well, whatever system Mike D'Antoni would implement if he happened to coach soccer. How Messi Mode fares in the grandest stage will definitely be something to watch for. Similarly, I'm not aware if fantasy club soccer exists, but if it does, would fantasy owners still take Ronaldo high in the draft, knowing new Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (who Fox Sports' Curt Menifee recently dubbed the Rex Ryan of his sport for his expertise on defense as well as his charisma with a hint of arrogance) brings his sleep-inducing, (even by soccer fans' standards) defense-first style that severely limits the number of shots at goal his players take?
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  1. DirtyKash's Avatar
    I'm picking Mexico to win the World Cup.
  2. DirtyKash's Avatar
    On second thought, change my pick to the USA.