SAP helps Germany lift the World Cup

Germany-based software company SAP played its part in the national football team's victory over Argentina in the World Cup final in Brazil

Germany-headquartered software company SAP played its part in the national football team's victory over Argentina in the World Cup final in Brazil on Sunday.

Much has been said about the precision engineering and intelligent design of Germany’s football, which eventually overcame the boys from the barrios.

But enterprise software played a part, too, in the form of big data analytics.

In October 2013, the German Football Association (DFB) and SAP began collaborating to develop a “Match Insights” software system for the German national team to use in preparation for and during the tournament. SAP delivered a prototype in March 2014 and Joachim Low’s management team has been using the software ever since.

During the World Cup, the German team analysed the data captured by video cameras around the pitch and turned it into information that could be viewed on tablet or mobile devices to help improve team performance and gain a deeper insight into its rivals.

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The information was also sent to individual players’ mobile phones or viewed on a big screen in the players’ lounge.

The biggest improvement resulting from using the data was the team’s speed of passing, said SAP. When Germany reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2010, the team had an average ball possession time of 3.4 seconds. After using SAP Match Insights, based on the supplier’s Hana technology, it has been able to reduce that time to 1.1 seconds.

Other data captured included players' speed and distance travelled, positioning and number of touches.

Oliver Bierhoff, a SAP brand ambassador and manager of the German national football team, assisting coach Low, said: “We had a lot of qualitative data for the opposition available. Jerome 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.”

There were eight cameras covering each pitch in Brazil and data was available to all the teams – but only the land of Audi, BMW and Mercedes made use of this type of big data analytics.

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