Data visualization and storytelling


Seven creative data visualization ideas for your World Cup coverage ⚽

Visualizing FIFA World Cup stats, from match history to goals and player info

The World Cup is in full swing, and along with it comes all the media buzz, fanfare and excitement one would expect from such a major sporting event.

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Besides the twists and turns of every game, we also look forward to the colorful and rich statistics this year’s tournament will bring. While we wait for the stats to pile in, we created a few data visualizations with historical data to celebrate the tournament and inspire you to create your own football content with Flourish.

1. Visualize matches with a tournament bracket chart

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Using our interactive tournament template, you can provide an overview of who is leading in the tournament along with images, scores and popups.

2. Share a bit of history with an overview map

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The World Cup tournament has been around for almost a century, and it’s undoubtedly one of the grandest sports events worldwide. 79 national teams have participated in the tournament since 1930, with Brazil being the only team to appear in all of them.

Using one of our interactive map templates, you can provide an overview of the tournament’s history while also sharing important facts about the game. Create a story or use customized popups to share more information about each country without overcrowding your map.

3. Show the winners at a glance with a Sankey diagram

Frequent participation in the World Cup does not necessarily guarantee a win. For instance, Mexico has appeared a total of 17 times in the tournament but never made it to the finals. In fact, only 8 nations have claimed the trophy so far – see all winning countries visualized with our “Sankey” template below.

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By hovering over the chart’s links, we can see that Brazil has won five World Cup titles, while Germany and Italy follow closely with four titles each. France is the latest champion, with one more previous win in 1998.

4. See who owns the ball with a racing bar chart

Surely the top World Cup winners must also be the top goal scorers? Well, not always. Using our “Bar chart race” template, we visualized the distribution of all 2500+ goals scored during the tournament by country.

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One of the biggest benefits of the “Bar chart race” template is that it slowly reveals the progress of each participant in the race – almost like a football tournament!

We can see that among the top scorers, there are teams who never won the World Cup – Hungary and the Netherlands, for example. And if you pause the visualization and scrub back and forth between the last two entries, you will see the close battle between Germany and Brazil as top goal scorers.

If you are a fan of sports analysis, you may often hear early or late goal trends being discussed. The 2018 Russia World Cup was no different, but this time we wanted to make sure we see the pattern ourselves.

Using a grid of scatter plots, we visualized all 169 goals during the 2018 World Cup and distributed them on a 90(ish)-minute timeline. This template is a particularly good choice in this case, as it also allows us to clearly see the fastest and slowest goals of the tournament.

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Let’s analyze the chart above. There were 65 goals in the first half (including the first stoppage), compared to 82 goals in the second. In other words, almost half of all goals (48.5%) were scored in the latter part of the game.

In an interesting twist, the 93rd minute accounted for the highest number of goals (7). And as it turns out, the most recent World Cup saw the highest percentage of late goals in the history of the tournament.

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6. Show players info with our Sports template

We can’t possibly talk about the World Cup without mentioning the stars who make the game so exciting! Use our “Sports” template to visualize formations while providing useful data for each player in the popups.

Below, we visualized the lineups of the French, German and Spanish national teams during their final games in the last three World Cups.

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In order to accommodate unexpected formations, our “Sports” template allows you to plot each player individually. Simply provide an X and Y position in your dataset or use the custom formation box in the Preview tab. Read more about this on our help page.

7. Use a column chart to compare teams and players

If you hover over the customized popups in the visualization above, you may notice that some of the star players do not actually play at home during regular season. And while we are well aware of how contagious patriotic cheers can be, the stacked column chart below shows us the reality of where most players spend their time outside the World Cup tournament.

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By using custom color overrides, you can focus the readers’ attention to specific parts of your chart. Did you also notice that the graphic above doesn’t use a traditional legend but a colored text in the header instead? Combining legends with titles makes your visualizations simpler and more impactful – and it’s super easy in Flourish.

Read our guide to creating compelling visualizations for more best data visualization practices.

Looking for more sports coverage? 📢

We are so excited for the World Cup, that we devoted one Flourish webinar to the occasion. Watch our session on top five tips for creating interactive football content below.