How SAP helped Germany win the World Cup

Business Intelligence

by Joe Curtis| 14 July 2014

It was big data that won Germany the trophy.

As millions of Germans celebrated their national side's World Cup triumph yesterday, it was data off the pitch as much as the players on it that helped secure the trophy for the four-time winners.

Since last October, SAP has been helping the Germany team analyse big data captured by eight cameras around the pitch to improve team performance and gain insight into opponents' strengths and weaknesses.

SAP's Match Insights technology, based on the German tech giant's in-memory database HANA, is credited with speeding up the side's passing, from an average of 3.4 seconds of possession per player back in 2010 to 1.1 seconds per player in Brazil.

Oliver Bierhoff, manager of the German football team, said: "Imagine this: In just 10 minutes, 10 players with three balls can produce over 7 million data points. SAP HANA can process these in real time. With SAP, our team can analyse this huge amount of data to customize training and prepare for the next match."

The data is then displayed on players' mobiles and tablets or viewed in the players' lounge on a big screen for everyone to digest.
Looking at average possession time, speed and distance travelled, player positions and number of touches, the data can be used to look at teams as a whole as well as German players and their opposite numbers.

Bierhoff added that it allowed team members to ask for specific data on opponents they were due to come up against.

"We had a lot of qualitative data for the opposition available," he said. "[Defender] Jérôme Boateng asked to look at the way Cristiano Ronaldo moves in the box, for example.

"And before the game against France, we saw that the French were very concentrated in the middle but left spaces on the flanks because their full-backs didn't push up properly. So we targeted those areas."

Germany beat Portugal 4-0 and France 1-0 on their way to winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

Match Insights is only available in prototype at the moment, but SAP plans to release it on a wider scale now the tournament is over.

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