Is the number of Prehistoric Animal Genera a good Guide to National Football Team Performance?

At the start of the 2008 European Football championships some of the team members at Everything Dinosaur conducted a quick analysis of the sixteen countries taking part to ascertain whether the number of prehistoric animal genera recorded within a country would act as a guide to football team performance.

No in-depth analysis of the actual number of genera recorded was carried out, most of the countries playing in the football tournament have had far more genera recorded from palaeontological finds from their countries than we stated.  Team members merely used what data they could find from the office files one evening, as a very crude and general guide.  The number of genera was weighted in accordance with the size of the country concerned; (it was felt appropriate to do this, as how else where we able to compare the likes of Croatia and Austria with Russia for example).  For extra spice, we also factored in the number of mentions a participating country had had within our own web log.

Based on this analysis, we produced a ranking table, listing the expected position of each nation based on the statistical data provided.

To view the first article and summary table: European Champions for Prehistoric Animal Genera

With the group games now concluded and the quarter finalists determined, it is a good time to review our data to see how accurate our predictions were.  According to our study, Germany should win the tournament, beating France in the final (countries ranked one and two respectively in our analysis).  It is true that Germany have made the last eight, unfortunately France have been knocked out, indeed the French finished bottom of their group.

The top ranked teams, according to this analysis are listed below along with their tournament record:

National Team Performance at Quarter Finals Stage (2008 European Championships)

Rank Country Performance
1 Germany Quarter finalist
2 France Knocked out
3 Spain Quarter finalist
4 Russia Quarter finalist
5 Portugal Quarter finalist
6 Greece Knocked out
7 Switzerland Knocked out
8 Sweden Knocked out
9 Turkey Quarter finalist
10 Poland Knocked out
11 Italy Quarter finalist
12 Romania Knocked out
13 Holland Quarter finalist
14 Czech Republic Knocked out
15 Austria Knocked out
16 Croatia Quarter finalist

Data Source: Everything Dinosaur

It seems that using this rather bizarre methodology, four out of the eight teams that have made the quarter finals have been predicted correctly.  In essence, had we picked 8 countries at random, we statistically would have had a chance of predicting half of them correctly, so without having to conduct Chi squared tests or indeed subjecting our work to a more rigorous analysis we can conclude that prehistoric animal genera does not seem to have an impact on a football team’s performance.

However, Germany, the country ranked number one in our survey could still win the Championship.

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