Thieves strike at Donegal church once again

first_imgGardai are examining CCTV footage after another theft from a church in Co Donegal.It is understood an amount of money was stolen from St Patrick’s Church in Killygordon.It follows a number of robberies at the same church earlier this year. On one occasion local priest Fr Frankie Lynch came across the culprits who fled.On Sunday evening last around 6pm a man entered the church.It was later discovered that a quantity of money had been stolen from charity boxes.Gardai are viewing CCTV footage from the time and are also keen to speak to the driver of a black 08DL car which was seen in the area at the time. Thieves strike at Donegal church once again was last modified: September 7th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Bruce blames himself after ‘worst-ever’ display

first_imgEmbed from Getty ImagesAston Villa boss Steve Bruce said he regretted starting with some of his young internationals after the goalless draw with Brentford.Midfielder Josh Onomah played for England Under-21s this week, while forwards Keinan Davis and Andre Green featured for the Under-20s.The promising trio started against the Bees but all had to come off during the second half with slight injuries, replaced by the more senior Scott Hogan, Robert Snodgrass and Gabby Agbonlahor.“Keinan yesterday was sore, complaining of a bit of a hip problem,” Bruce said. “Greeny and Josh have picked up muscle injuries.“So in hindsight, I blame myself a little bit. With my experience, I should have been better.“There was no real freshness, too many had been away on international duty and we were as flat as we could be.“That’s arguably the worst we’ve been since I’ve been here.”Talisman Jonathan Kodjia, who broke his ankle in defeat at Fulham in April, is close to a return, with an appearance for the Under-23s slated for Monday.And Bruce said the striker could even be included in the squad for the home game with Middlesbrough on Tuesday if he comes through the second-string match.He added: “We’d love Kodjia to be back but he’s had a fractured ankle, so it’s important for him to get through 45 minutes on Monday night.“If he does, it puts him in contention for Tuesday.”See also:Canos injured as Bees draw at Villa Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Joe Panik’s walk-off single lifts Giants to late win

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — It’s one thing to earn a comeback victory. It’s another to steal a win.The Giants did both against the Braves on Tuesday.Trailing 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, a Giants’ offense that recorded two runs in the first 17 innings of the series pounded out four singles, secured two key stolen bases and completed a come-from-behind win with three hard-earned runs in a 4-3 walk-off victory.Second baseman Joe Panik fell behind Braves closer Luke Jackson 0-2, but battled his …last_img

Scientists’ Letter Challenges PZ Myers’ Revisionism

first_imgIn a letter to Nature, three scientists set the record straight about theology and science, after atheist P.Z. Myers got off with only a mild rebuke in a previous book review.Glenn Branch gave a fairly genteel review of The Happy Atheist by PZ Myers last month in Nature (Aug. 8).  In response, Robert White (U of Cambridge), George Ellis (U of Cape Town; see mention in ENV) and Denis Alexander (Faraday Institute; see mention in ENV, an evolution defender, ENV) – no friends of creationism or intelligent design – decided to write Nature and list a few of the “religious believers” who founded modern science.Young Earth creationists are easy to lampoon (see G. Branch Nature 500, 149; 2013). However, using reasoned arguments might hold more sway with the US creationist movement.PZ Myers, author of The Happy Atheist (which Branch reviewed), should remember that the majority of those who helped to establish the disciplines that we now practise as modern science were religious believers, including Nicolaus Copernicus, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Carl Linnaeus, Edward Jenner, Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, Joseph Lister, William Thomson and Arthur Stanley Eddington — to name but a few, and excluding a long list of contemporary names. Half of the 10 most influential scientists of the past 350 years chosen for the Royal Society’s commemorative stamps in 2010 were religious believers.Branch had, indeed, lampooned creationists in spirit with Myers.  These three scientists, though, wanted to make sure he was not dissing “religious belief” in general.We take this opportunity for you to read some of our biographies of these great scientists by clicking their names.  Some of them were not just “religious believers” but strong Christians who studied the Bible and trusted its authority.  White, Ellis and Alexander would not wish to associate with “creationists” or even advocates of intelligent design, but they don’t want to support atheism, either – especially the brand advocated by foul-mouthed PZ Myers, who made a fool of himself on Ray Comfort’s Evolution vs God video by saying human beings are fish.It may be “easy” to lampoon creationists, but looking at all the Stupid Evolution Quotes of the Week on this site, and the many foolish things the Darwin disciples say every day (see most recent example of hundreds), who would not be embarrassed to hang with that crowd?  If Charlie worshipers wish to parade their naked emperor in public, day after day, they lampoon themselves without our help.  But to believe an intelligent, all-wise Creator made the order and complexity we see in nature, and told us what He did, why should that be a subject of scorn?  Well, look what they did to Jesus; don’t be surprised.One thing we can agree with these theistic evolutionists on: “using reasoned arguments might hold more sway with the US creationist movement.”  Great idea!  When do they start?  We dare anyone to lampoon this month’s featured scientist, Raymond Damadian, inventor of the MRI scanner – a Bible-believing creationist.  Millions owe their lives to his intelligent design. (Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

With fire in his eyes

first_imgBut the sport’s sole eight-division champion has made it clear: At 40, Pacquiao said he would prove that he could still fight like he did 10 years ago when he was crushing it at every level.“I still have that killer instinct and the fire in my eyes is still there,” Pacquiao said. “That aggressiveness, the interest in this career is still there 100 percent. The speed and the power are still there.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsIn his prime, he scored thrilling stoppages over some of the sport’s biggest names like Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. He is the only boxer to have won championship belts in eight weight classes.He said he would climb the ring against an imperfect Mayweather clone with Divine guidance: “In my hands is the power from God,” Pacquiao said. In response, the flashy part-time rapper said he would knock out the Filipino boxing legend, turn the Vegas strip “into one big block party and then invite Manny for a drink.”“It’s a hell of opportunity man … like I said before I’m not doing this for myself; I’m doing this (expletive) for the hood,” Broner said after making the weight on Friday.“After I win tomorrow night, I will be a legend overnight.”Broner, the youngest fighter to have won title in four weight divisions, possesses a sturdy chin. He has never been knocked out before.But Pacquiao said he definitely would go for a KO, having remembered how good it felt to stop Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur last July.“It’s nothing personal. But I will chase him inside the ring. Where he goes, I follow,” said Pacquiao.Broner has lost all three of his biggest fights and this encounter with Pacquiao is hands down even bigger than those combined.He reportedly signed a five-fight, $50-million deal with Premier Boxing Champions which only becomes binding if he defeats Pacquiao. For this fight, he will reportedly get $2.5 million plus a share of the revenue.Broner is criticized for throwing too few punches. But he moves around the ring well and has been described by experts as a “poor man’s Mayweather.”But he allowed himself to be devoured by the trappings of boxing’s spotlight and his career went south after losing to Mikey Garcia and drawing Jessie Vargas in his two previous fights. And his trainer wants Pacquiao, a devout Christian, to turn his fists into fire and brimstone and make Broner taste the wrath of God.“When you find a chance, go for it, don’t show mercy and forget that you’re a Christian for several minutes,” said long-time pal and now corner chief Buboy Fernandez.Mayweather’s shadow looms large over this duel. The undefeated American defeated Pacquiao in 2015, an underwhelming bout described as the richest fight in boxing history having reportedly generated $600 million.Mayweather fired up talk of a rematch when he announced last September that he was willing to come out of retirement and fight his Filipino rival once again.Broner, 29, finds his being cast aside in the fight narrative unacceptable.ADVERTISEMENT View comments Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño LATEST STORIES Vargas lost to Pacquiao via unanimous decision when the Filipino global superstar last fought in the United States more than two years ago.Pacquiao’s career also lost its sheen after he failed to score a knockout win for nine years. In that span, he got knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and then lost a decision to Jeff Horn in 2017 in Brisbane.But the knockout win over Matthysse gave his career another highlight and, with Mayweather in retirement, once again made him the most important man in all of boxing.Pacquiao could reportedly earn $20 million from this bout.For #PacBroner updates, visit The Pacquiao Files.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Manny Pacquiao (right) hopes to add more shine to his legacy when he battles Adrien Broner in a WBA title defense. —ILLUSTRATION BY RENE ELEVERALAS VEGAS—With the power of God in his hands and fire in his eyes, Manny Pacquiao sets out to defend his WBA welterweight title against Adrien Broner on Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila) at MGM Grand Arena here.There has been speculation as to what the Filipino senator’s motivation is, with many pointing that he is auditioning for another rich bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Others say he is polishing a career that is bound for the Hall of Fame.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Pacquiao, Broner make weight LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionlast_img read more

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal on collision course in semis at Indian Wells

first_img“You look back at what I did well there, but you can’t just copy-paste and play exactly the same thing again,” Federer said.The other semifinal Saturday pairs Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem.Nadal improved to 6-0 against Khachanov, although it was tougher and longer than Federer’s win.Nadal trailed 6-5 before Khachanov’s forehand error forced the second tiebreaker, which Nadal dominated to close out the match that lasted just over two hours.“He’s unbelievable in defense,” Khachanov said. “When you want to try maybe just to play more safe then he suddenly steps in and he counterattacks. He steps in and then he starts moving you, and then you are again in trouble.”Federer believes Nadal is playing better than he did in losing the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic, who was upset earlier in the week.“When Rafa is healthy, especially in a place like here in Indian Wells where he feels comfortable, he’s clearly very tough to play,” Federer said.Against Hurkacz, Federer fought off two break points in the second set, including the last game when he closed the match with a forehand winner off a short ball.“Not that I didn’t expect it,” Federer said, “but it definitely went better than I thought it would.”Hurkacz, a 22-year-old Pole, earned three-set upsets of No. 28 Lucas Pouille, No. 6 Kei Nishikori and No. 24 Denis Shapovalov to make his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal against his childhood idol. Federer was playing in his 83rd at this level. Neither Federer nor Nadal has dropped a set in four matches in the desert. Federer has been broken just once, while Nadal has dropped serve three times, twice against Khachanov.Nadal stands in the way of Federer’s pursuit of a record sixth title at Indian Wells.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesStill, the Swiss superstar was rooting for Nadal to advance against his 22-year-old opponent.“Playing against young guys to eventually get to Rafa, that’s exciting,” said Federer, who also faced an opponent the same age as Khachanov. 76ers get 3rd straight win to pull even at no. 3 in East playoff race View comments Hong Kong tunnel reopens, campus siege nears end P2.5 B shabu seized in Makati sting, Chinese national nabbed Trump campaign, GOP groups attack Google’s new ad policy Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 1 dead, 3 injured in Quezon road crash “Playing against him for the first time on the big stadium of a great crowd here was for sure different feeling,” Hurkacz said.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games hosting troubles anger Dutertecenter_img PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss LATEST STORIES MOST READ Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief Roger Federer, of Switzerland, waves to fans after winning his quarterfinals match against Hubert Hurkacz, of Poland, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)INDIAN WELLS, California — It’s Federer vs. Nadal again, only this time it’ll be in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open.Roger Federer beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 and Rafael Nadal got by Karen Khachanov 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) on Friday to set up the old rivals’ 39th career meeting and first in 16 months.ADVERTISEMENT Nadal’s right knee flared up in the second set for the first time during the tournament. He called for a trainer who applied tape just below the knee. The trainer returned again with Nadal leading 3-2 in the second set.“My goal and my idea is be ready for tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I cannot guarantee how I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning.”Knee problems have dogged the 32-year-old Spaniard in recent years, and they cut short his 2018 season after the U.S. Open in September.“I love to play on hard (courts), but probably my body doesn’t love it that much,” Nadal said. “As I say before, is not only about today, is about tomorrow. Maybe we’re going to pay the price at the age of 45 or something. That will be not nice. When I see some old legends walking around the tour, is tough to see.”Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu rallied past No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, winning on her fourth match point to reach the biggest final of her young career.ADVERTISEMENT Andreescu became the first wild-card to reach the Indian Wells final.“Another goal of mine was to make history, and I just did,” she said, smiling.Andreescu will play two-time major champion Angelique Kerber, who ended 23rd-seeded Belinda Bencic’s run of upsets with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.The 18-year-old Canadian’s run is reminiscent of Naomi Osaka’s path to last year’s title. Little-known at the time, Osaka used her Indian Wells victory as a launching pad to beating Serena Williams for the U.S. Open title and winning the Australian Open while becoming the world’s top-ranked player.“I’m actually shaking right now,” Andreescu told reporters. “It’s just so incredible.”Andreescu had break points against her in each of her last three service games.“It was so many emotions going through my head,” she said. “It was a crazy match. It was a roller coaster.”Svitolina had three break chances in the final game, but couldn’t convert. The Ukrainian also was bothered by her inflamed right knee.“I couldn’t allow myself to play 100 percent because my movement was not there,” she said.Federer is on a five-matching winning streak against Nadal, who lost to him all four times they played in 2017, including the last time at the Shanghai Masters in October of that year. Private companies step in to help SEA Games hostinglast_img read more

Its OK to cry in the courtroom even if youre a judge

first_imgVANCOUVER – Judges can’t be expected to be emotionless robots, two legal experts said after a defence lawyer questioned a British Columbia judge’s ability to deliver a fair sentence because she cried during a victim impact statement.Defence lawyer Jacqueline Halliburn has asked provincial court Judge Monica McParland to recuse herself from the Kelowna courtroom because of what she argued was an “overall tone of bias” against a person who pleaded guilty in a sexual interference case. The lawyer also said McParland scoffed at the defence’s suggestion for an intermittent jail sentence.It will be up to McParland to decide if she should quit the case and refer sentencing to another judge.Annalise Acorn, a professor of law at the University of Alberta with no involvement to the case, said judges are routinely confronted with facts involving tremendous amounts of human suffering and as human beings can be expected to have an emotional response, just like anyone else.The case highlights a false expectation that reason has to be independent from emotion, she said. But that is a distorted view of what takes place in the trial process, where there are all kinds of overlap and interplay between reason and emotion.“Emotions are these kind of physical responses we have to rational evaluations,” said Acorn, whose main area of research is the philosophy of emotions in the context of conflict and justice.“In my view, to suggest that an emotional response in itself is an indication of bias is a really wrong-headed approach.”Jeremy Melvin Carlson was charged in 2016 with sexual assault and the sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Carlson, who is transgender and is in the midst of a male-to-female transition, pleaded guilty to sexual interference of a minor.Janine Benedet, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, said it’s significant that the judge cried during the sentencing stage of the trial, which means the accused had already been convicted.“As a society, we should have a revulsion to the sexual abuse of children, there’s nothing wrong with finding that distressing,” she said.While she wasn’t aware of similar cases, Benedet said the courts recognize that judges and juries may be affected by what they see and hear in court. That’s why there’s a process to determine, for example, whether still photographs of a graphic event might be shown as evidence instead of a full video.After the Crown and defence arguments were made on Monday, McParland indicated her decision will come before the end of August. Online court documents show the case is due to return to provincial court in Kelowna for a decision on Aug. 17.The Crown wants a jail sentence up to 20 months, followed by two years of probation. The defence recommended a 90-day intermittent jail term, to be served over 20 weekends.The judge’s response when Halliburn proposed that sentence is a matter of dispute. Halliburn described it in her submission to the court as a “short, sharp scoff,” but Crown prosecutor Angela Ross says no such response is audible on court recordings where it’s alleged to have occurred.Judges routinely display a wide range of mannerisms and speaking styles in their interactions with counsel during sentencing proceedings, Ross said, and even if they were true, none of the behaviours ascribed to McParland meet the high standard of proof required for a judicial recusal.— With files from Ron Seymour, the Kelowna Daily Courierlast_img read more

PM should stop thinking people are fools they see through everything Priyanka

first_imgMirzapur (UP): Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through everything, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Wednesday. The Congress leader, who is incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, is on a three-day boat journey down the Ganga, meeting people living on the banks of the holy river as part of her outreach ahead of the general election beginning on April 11. “The prime minister has attacked every institution in this country for the last five years, including the institution of which all of you are a part,” Priyanka Gandhi told reporters. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “So I think the PM should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all this,” she added. The Congress general secretary went on to say that she is not afraid of being “harassed”. “Even if anything is done, and we are harassed, we will not feel afraid. We will continue our fight against them. The more we are harassed, the stronger will be our fight,” she said. Speaking at a ‘chaupal’ near a temple in the city late last evening, Gandhi blamed the Modi government for “not doing anything” for the development of the country. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “This government has given only lollipops,” she charged. She said politics should be done for the development of the country. Talking about employment created during the Congress-led dispensation, she said, “The Congress government had given the biggest employment guarantee programme MGNREGA.” But under the BJP government, she alleged, machines were replacing labourers. “If the Congress is voted to power, it would work for farmers and the poor,” she asserted.last_img read more

Police dressed as ATM thieves to make criminal April Fool

first_imgNEW DELHI: In a filmy style scene, Delhi police team dressed in Lungi and Kurta disguised themselves as ATM thieves to lure a man into the conversation who has created menace in Dwarka with ATM machine thefts.The police zeroed in on a criminal after analysing CCTV footage of the ATM thefts in the area. After studying a typical pattern of dressing by the criminal, the police team decided to dress in exactly the same manner to dodge the criminal. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”At about 9 pm, the criminal came to Uttamnagar area and saw few other familiar looking men. He tried to establish communication with those men, actually the police team members, assuming them that they are from some new gang from Mewat area. He disclosed his name and address in Mewat to the team,” said DCP Dwarka, Anto Alphonse. On confirming his identity, the team surprised him with ‘April Fool Banaya slogan’. The accused is a permanent resident of Karanda, Mewat and is residing in Loni, Ghaziabad. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe accused committed several crimes and several cases have been registered against him but maybe in different names as he used to tell his new name every time he was arrested. After he was lodged in several jails, he polished his criminal abilities with an introduction to criminals from various states, hence he became a member of an interstate gang. In 2012, he along with his associates tried to steal an ATM in Mourya Enclave, Delhi area but guard fired upon them which caused the death of one of his associates. He was later arrested and charged also. He stopped attending court in 2017 and the court declared him an absconder. He used to shortlist any ATM after a recce and then prepared plans with associates to steal uproot the ATM.last_img read more

What Analytics Can Teach Us About the Beautiful Game

Sports analytics, no matter the field’s renegade posturing, has now been around long enough to have its own pieces of conventional wisdom. Baseball’s cognoscenti know all about the primacy of on-base percentage over batting average, and they’ve also come to realize once-treasured strategies like bunting and stealing bases are best used sparingly. In basketball, the mid-range jump shot is slowly being phased out as an inefficient relic of antiquity. Spreadsheets are shaming football coaches into rolling the dice more often on fourth downs.But for many American fans tuning into the World Cup this month and next, soccer’s nuggets of analytic insight remain as foreign as the game itself. There are set pieces to orchestrate, attacking strategies to plan, areas of the defense to exploit — and it isn’t always apparent which tactics are best. But analytics has clear advice on how to do some things right.Soccer analytics is very much viewed as a discipline in its infancy. And the sport itself is often described as especially resistant to the pull of number-crunching, whether due to its fluid nature, its sportocratic establishment culture, or a fear that the unsentimentality of data will rob the Beautiful Game of its celebrated elegance.There’s not much truth to that. Off and on, people have been tracking relatively detailed soccer data in some form for more than six decades, up to and including the modern companies that exhaustively log every event on the pitch.That said, WAR isn’t coming to soccer anytime soon. Most attempts to create an all-in-one statistical index for soccer players (like we have for basketball and baseball) have suffered from a distinct lack of transparency1Generally speaking, no formulae for these indices have been released to the public — just vague assurances like this: “The Castrol Index tracks every move on the field and assesses whether it has a positive or negative impact on a team’s ability to score or concede a goal.” and a noticeable bias toward strikers and other scorers, whose output is most readily quantifiable. There are a number of interesting metrics at fans’ disposal, but no magic algorithm that accounts for a player’s role on his club, the system he plays in, the quality of his teammates and countless other factors. By necessity, even the individual plus/minus ratings ESPN uses for the talent portion of our Soccer Power Index fall prey to this phenomenon — we simply have to be more conservative when assessing the impact of a fullback than of a prolific goal-scorer. That makes it hard to distinguish between the value of, say, Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidić.At the team level, though, the numbers offer more hope. They have the potential to provide soccer with broad strategic conventions comparable to the sabermetric-minded rules of thumb in other sports. None of these is a hard-and-fast decree, but they offer guidelines generated by actual data instead of blind hunches.In “The Numbers Game” by Chris Anderson and David Sally — probably the definitive volume on statistical analysis in soccer — the authors tell the story of Charles Reep, a former Royal Air Force Wing Commander who was tracking play-by-play data for matches and serving as a quantitative consultant for Football League teams as early as the 1950s.Reep’s research was quite groundbreaking for its time, even if it was fatally flawed. The Wing Commander gathered data on how often a given number of successful passes were strung together, and how frequently goals resulted from those sequences, broken down by length. Reep determined that a team’s probability of retaining possession dropped precipitously with each consecutive pass attempt, and that most goals were scored on possessions of fewer than three passes — often originating from quick counterattacks.In Reep’s mind, this meant teams should abandon trying to control possession and maneuvering through the defense with endless passing. Instead, they should focus on getting the ball downfield in as few movements as possible on offense, and applying pressure on defense to generate opportunistic counter-rushes. The numbers seemed to suggest that the long game was the most efficient tactic for soccer success.But subsequent analysis has discredited this way of thinking. Reep’s mistake was to fixate on the percentage of goals generated by passing sequences of various lengths. Instead, he should have flipped things around, focusing on the probability that a given sequence would produce a goal. Yes, a large proportion of goals are generated on short possessions, but soccer is also fundamentally a game of short possessions and frequent turnovers. If you account for how often each sequence-length occurs during the flow of play, of course more goals are going to come off of smaller sequences — after all, they’re easily the most common type of sequence. But that doesn’t mean a small sequence has a higher probability of leading to a goal.To the contrary, a team’s probability of scoring goes up as it strings together more successful passes. The implication of this statistical about-face is that maintaining possession is important in soccer.2As analysts have also recently discovered it to be in hockey. There’s a good relationship3Correlation coefficient in last season’s English Premier League: 0.78. between a team’s time spent in control of the ball and its ability to generate shots on target, which in turn is hugely predictive of a team’s scoring rate and, consequently, its placement in the league table. While there’s less rhyme or reason to the rate at which teams convert those scoring chances into goals, modern analysis has ascertained that possession plays a big role in creating offensive opportunities, and that effective short passing — fueled largely by having pass targets move to soft spots in the defense before ever receiving the ball — is strongly associated with building and maintaining possession.As for the long ball, it’s proven futile in today’s game. During the 2013-14 English Premier League season, the percentage of a team’s passes classified as “long” by Whoscored.com’s data was very negatively correlated4Correlation coefficient: -0.8. with how many goals it scored.5If you’re concerned that the EPL isn’t representative of worldwide soccer, the numbers are essentially identical in Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, and Italy’s Serie A.The same goes for trying to spearhead an offense from the wings instead of attacking up the middle. In their book, Anderson and Sally write about a seminal piece of quantitative analysis on the 1986 World Cup from researcher Mike Hughes: “Successful teams played a passing game through the middle in their own half and approached the other end of the pitch predominantly in the central areas of the field, while the unsuccessful teams played significantly more to the wings.” The numbers from the 2013-14 season in Europe’s “Big Four” leagues6England’s Premiere League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A. bear this out as well. The percentage of a team’s attacks made up the middle did have a moderately positive7A correlation of 0.32. relationship to its scoring rate relative to the league average, while the relationship between wing attacks and scoring was of the same magnitude and in the negative direction.This, coupled with the fact that corner kicks are surprisingly ineffective at generating goals, is probably related to the negative correlation between a team’s propensity for winning aerial duels8That is, battles for possession strictly on balls played in the air. and its overall goal-scoring rate. By the numbers, it’s a losing bet to count on goals in the air via set pieces — or even off crosses in open play — as a steady way to generate offense, just as it is to rely on the long ball to consistently produce chances. Instead, the statistics seem to support an approach more in line with the artful tiki-taka style exemplified most notably by FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. In soccer, data and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive, just as they aren’t in any other sport.That’s the one bit of analytics wisdom that could stand to become more conventional. For now, though, we have a reasonably good idea of which metrics correlate with a team’s success more than others. Keep those in mind as you gorge on soccer over the next month. read more