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1 - Data Preparation

1.1 Load Data

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Let's select the most interesting columns from loaded dataset:

1.2 Summarize Data

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1.3 Preprocess Data

Right away I can see that values in columns: 'Value' and 'Wage' aren't numeric but objects. Thus I'll preprocess the data to make it usable. I will use short supporting function to convert values in those two columns into numbers. I will end up with two new columns 'ValueNum' and 'WageNum' that will contain numeric values.

To make things simpler, I select the first position from list as preferred and save it in 'Position' column.

2 - Data Visualization

2.1 Age

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2.2 Overall

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2.3 Preferred Position

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2.4 Nationality

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In case the plot.ly image doesn't show:

nationalities

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I can see that the players are very centralized in Europe. To be precise, England, Germany, Spain, and France.

2.5 Value

Let's see the 20 players with highest value:

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Let's make a scatter chart of the players' Value with respect to their Age and Overall:

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2.6 Wage

Let's see the 20 players with highest wage:

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Let's make a scatter chart of the players' Wage with respect to their Age and Overall:

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3 - Best Squad Analysis

For simplicity of this analysis, I only pull in data I am interested in:

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3.1 Squad of Highest Overall Players

What's the best squad according to FIFA 18 purely based on overall rating?

Alright, now let's move onto studying different squad's impact on Nationality teams. First let's modifiy above get_summary and get_best_squad functions for Nationality:

Also let's make our squad choices more strict:

3.2 France

Let's explore different squad possibility of France and how it affects the ratings:

So we can say that France has the best squard as 4-3-3 for the current squad; and 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 4-2-3-1 for the future squad based on team ratings. Let's check out the best 11 squad line-up of France in 4-3-3 for current rating as well as 4-4-2 for potential rating:

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3.3 Germany

The holding champion is certainly a heavy candidate for this year's 1st place:

As you can see, Germany's current ratings peak with either 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 formation; while those 2 plus 4-2-3-1 are their best options for the future. With that, I'll show Germany's best 11 squad with 4-3-3 for current ratings and 4-2-3-1 for potential ratings.

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3.4 Spain

How about our 2010's winner?

Well, Spain does best with either 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 for both current and potential rating. I'll choose 4-2-3-1 for the current squad and 4-3-3 for the potential squad.

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3.5 England

Although having the best soccer league in Europe, England did not seem to do that well at the national level. Let's figure out their options for the upcoming World Cup:

England should stick to 4-3-3 with their current squad and either 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 with their potential squad. Thus, I'll choose 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 respectively.

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3.6 Brazil

Having won the World Cup the most times in history, the Samba team will no doubt be one of the top candidates for this summer in Russia.

As you can see, Brazil has similar options like England. I'll go with 4-3-3 for the current rating and 4-2-3-1 for the potential rating.

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3.7 Argentina

Lionel Messi is still waiting for the only trophy he hasn't gotten yet in his career. Can he carry Argentina to the top after going short in the final 4 years ago?

Both 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 fare very well for the current and potential ratings of Argentine players. For the sake of diversity, I'll choose 3-4-3 for their current squad and 4-3-3 for their future squad.

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3.8 Belgium

The Red Devils has some of the best players in English Premier League, but can't never seem to make it far in the national level. Can Hazard and De Bruyne drive them far this time?

Again, 4-3-3 is the best formation for Belgium's both current and future squad.

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3.9 - Portugal

Last but not least, the winner of Euro 2016 and the best player in the world 3 times in a row, Cristiano Ronaldo.

OK, I'll go with 4-2-3-1 for current rating and 4-3-3 for potential rating of Portugal.

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4 - Final Comparison

Ok, let's make some comparison between these 8 line-ups with the current rating of players for these strongest contenders for World Cup 2018.

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Conclusion

So based purely on the FIFA 18 Data:

  • Spain has the highest average overall rating, followed by Germany and Brazil.
  • Germany has the highest total value, followed by Spain and France.
  • Spain has the highest average wage, followed by Germany and Brazil.

My bet is for a Spain vs Germany in the final, and Brazil vs France for the 3rd place. Your turn?