“It’s all over! USA has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup!,” were the last few words heard on 7 July 2019 when the final whistle blew. After which, all that we could see was celebration and joy. On the other side, Sarina Wiegman’s team were denied from taking the trophy home on their maiden world cup final. Right from America’s historic win against Thailand to Kanjana Sung-Ngoen’s 91st-minute goal against Sweden in the World Cup, everything made us fall in love with this beautiful game.

And here we are 10 months after the conclusion of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, ready to find out the best forward on the field using statistics of players. In this data analysis, we will not only look at goals scored by the players but also look at other statistics that are equally important.

In this data analysis, we will note the area under each player in the graph as their score and will add their total in the end, to find out the best forward.

Analysis of NpxG and xA

We begin with analysing the players NpxG (non-penalty expected goals) and xA(expected assists) which are the fundamental requirements as a forward, given the condition that a player must have played a minimum of three matches and should have scored at least two goals.Finding the best forward in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - data analysis statistics

Ellen White who the FAWSL followers would know pretty well has the highest NpxG of 4.2 however her xA is 0.10 which is low when compared to Alex Morgan from the World Cup-winning team who has the next highest NpxG of 2.90 with an xA of 1.0, which is high when compared to the other forwards in the competition.

Sam Kerr, one of the most expensive female footballers ever, stands third in NpxG with a value of 2.60 which is quite close to Morgan and’s with an impressive xA of 1.1. 

One who had watched all of USA’s match wouldn’t be surprised by fact that the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe leads the xA with 2.0 and a pretty good NpxG of 1.40. 

Stina Blackstenius, the Swedish star has an NpxG of 2.3 and also has an xA of 0.10 which is the same as White. The jewel of Barcelona, Lieke Martens, is found having an NpxG of 1.3 and an xA of 0.4. 

In addition to that, I would like to bring into account that one of the top 5 goal scorers in the World Cup, Cristiane Rozeira has the least xA of 0 and an NpxG of 1.10.

Player name Score
Ellen White 0.42
Alex Morgan 2.90
Sam Kerr 2.86
Megan Rapinoe 2.80
Stina Blackstenius 0.23
Cristiane Rozeira 0.00
Lieke Marten 0.52

 

As we continue with our analysis we will keep eliminating the players with the least score.

Analysis of xG and conversion rate

Next, we will be analysing the conversion rate and the xG(expected goals) of the players.Finding the best forward in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - data analysis statistics

Rapinoe has the highest conversion rate of 0.60 and unlike NpxG, her xG is 3.7. The reason behind her higher conversion rate could be because of the lesser shots she took which we will analyse that later in our discussion.

Surprisingly  Kerr who was third in our previous analysis is now leading the xG(4.3) but with a low conversion rate of 0.27.  White has a better conversion rate of 0.33 and a lesser xG of 4.2 when compared with Kerr.

 Morgan, the golden boot competitor’s conversion rate (0.3) lies in between Kerr and White with an xG(2.7) which is 0.8 lesser than her country-mate Rapinoe. 

Cristiane finds her way on top with her conversion rate being 0.44 but loses the competition with an xG of 1.1. Blackstenius couldn’t stand out due to her very less conversion rate of 0.15 and with an xG of 2.3. 

Martens seems to be on the edge of the average crowd with a conversion rate of 0.2 and an xG of value(2.1) greater than 2 which only a few players have achieved.

Player name  Previous score Updated score
Ellen White 0.42 1.80
Alex Morgan 2.9 3.71
Sam Kerr 2.86 4.02
Megan Rapinoe 2.8 5.02
Stina Blackstenius 0.23 0.57
Cristiane Rozeira 0 0.48
Lieke Marten 0.52 0.94

Analysis of SoT per 90 minutes and xG per 90 minutes

Let’s continue our analysis by looking into the SoT/90 (shots on target per 90 minutes) with xG/90. (expected goals per 90 minutes)

Finding the best forward in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - data analysis statistics

This visualisation gives us a complete idea of which forwards shot a keeper must fear. A player with greater SoT/90 and xG/90 is a nightmare to any opponent.

Rapinoe the player with the highest conversion rate surprisingly has a lower SoT/90 of 0.63 but manages to have the second-highest xG/90 (0.77).One should not forget the fact that Rapinoe scored in every knockout game for the US except in the semi-finals (in which she didn’t play) which was vital in the US winning the World Cup for the fourth time.

Morgan, Cristiane, and White share similar SoT/90 of 2.02, 2.09, and 1.93 each, with Kerr stealing the spotlight for both SoT/90 and xG/90 with 2.54 and 1.0 which typically means for every five shots she takes, she is expected to score two goals.

Martens and Blackstenius have buried themselves into the box of average players with a SoT/90 of 0.83 and 0.84 each.

When it comes to xG/90, White is found trailing behind Rapinoe with an expected goal of 0.73 per match. Morgan too has managed to have an xG/90 greater than 0.5 of 0.53. However, the remaining shortlisted players’ Martens, Blackstenius, and Cristiane have less than 0.50 expected goals per match with the values 0.34, 0.38, and 0.33 respectively.

Player name  Previous score Updated score
Ellen White 1.80 3.20
Alex Morgan 3.71 4.78
Sam Kerr 4.02 6.56
Megan Rapinoe 5.02 5.50
Stina Blackstenius 0.57 0.89
Cristiane 0.48 1.16
Lieke Marten 0.94 1.22

 

(Hereafter we will only be analyzing the 4 players with highest scores)

Analysis of shots taken during the World Cup

The size of the circle in the plot below corresponds to the value of a shot being a goal.

First, let’s look at  Morgan who had to take 20 shots to score six goals which’s exactly why her conversion rate is very low(0.30). Out of her six goals, five goals were from the record winning match against Thailand, and the remaining one goal came in the semi-final which sealed the victory for the States. From the plot below one can conclude that she has missed a few good opportunities to score from right in front of the goal

Next, we will be looking at White who has also scored six goals, but with a lesser number of shots (18) when compared to Morgan. She has missed many convertible opportunities in front of the goal which seems worrying as a finisher.

Finding the best forward in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - data analysis statistics

Rapinoe had scored six goals from just 13 shots which answers the question of why the Golden Boot winner’s conversion rate is so high. Out of her 13 shots, three shots were in the form of penalties which she didn’t miss at all. Most of her shots came from outside the box which has a very less probability of the ball finding the net except the one that she converted from a free-kick. She had also missed two good opportunities to score from the edge of the six-yard box.

Finally looking at the Australian striker Kerr, who has also taken 20 shots from which she had converted only five. Looking at her shots, she has been dangerous in front of the goal and looks like any opportunity in front of the six-yard box is a definite goal. However, she too has missed a few good opportunities to score which could have won her the Golden Boot. (Despite playing fewer matches when compared to the remaining three)

The final analysis

Before we jump to conclusions, let us look at a few other important stats.

Finding the best forward in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 - data analysis statistics

Looking at the above bar graph, one’s eyes would eventually go the column containing stats about  Rapinoe as she’s found to have the most number of touches in the attacking third per 90 of 41.46 touches. Several other statistics such as key passes/90, progressive passes, passes into the penalty area is also dominated by the American.

The reason why Rapinoe had had fewer touches in the penalty box could be because of the US’s tactic of playing the front three-wide.

Chelsea‘s sensational signing Kerr, trails behind Rapinoe in the comparison but manages to out throw her performance when it comes to touches in penalty area/90. 

Morgan and White also throw up a good show when comparing individual data, but would lose the competition when compared as a unit.

We would do a relative scoring for this final analysis to calculate their scores. ( players attribute value/ maximum value of that attribute)

Player name Final score Rank
Megan Rapinoe 9.90 1
Sam Kerr 9.53 2
Alex Morgan 6.33 3
Ellen White 4.65 4

Conclusion:

Our analysis justifies why Rapinoe was awarded the golden ball award in the FIFA World Cup 2019. Let’s not forget Kerr who lost the battle by a value of only 0.37 and being the youngest in this competition I’m pretty sure she has a lot more to offer to her country in the upcoming World Cups. Morgan and White too were lethal in front of the goal but didn’t manage to put up a complete performance. We conclude our analysis by identifying Megan Rapinoe as the best forward in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.

Sathish Prasad V T