Specialities - are they worth it?


All of us know that special events are supposed to play a big part in even matches. In order for special events to appear, we'll need to have the appropriate players, who will probably cause an event to take place in our favour when we most need it - but would it happen when we need it? Has the Spanish NTVer? had luck when it comes to winning matches thanks to its roster full of players with specialities?


Let's start taking a look at how many special events have taken place in the history of U-20Ver? national teams. That's how we'll be able to see the percentage of goals caused by special events.


Number of matches Total goals Event goals Goals per match Event goals per match % of event goals
7430 28956 3960 3,9 0,53 13,68%


The above table indicates that an average four goals are scored in each match. This means that in average, there's one goal caused by a special event every two matches. In addition to this, we can also see that goals caused by special events are almost 14% of total goals. So the importance of special event goals is obvious, but is it equally important for everyone?


As stated in the rules, we need to have players with specialities in order for special events to appear. But apart from that, what else can influence the probability of special events appearing?


As you would expect, your midfield level has an effect on such probability, as it's higher for the team with the best midfield - so midfield is important here, just like in anything else. But let's try to find out how important it is after looking at the following table.


Midfield ratio Event goals Event ratio
Home Away Home Away Home Away
91%-100% 0%-9% 76 17 4,47 1
81%-90% 10%-19% 184 56 3,29 1
71%-80% 20%-29% 265 87 3,05 1
61%-70% 30%-39% 420 175 2,4 1
51%-60% 40%-49% 599 438 1,37 1
41%-50% 50%-59% 406 486 1 1,2
31%-40% 60%-69% 92 237 1 2,58
21%-30% 70%-79% 49 186 1 3,8
11%-20% 80%-89% 28 90 1 3,21
0%-10% 90%-100% 14 55 1 3,93


So it becomes clear that midfield has a major effect on the chance of special events appearing for both teams. And it's also obvious that the ratio of special events appearing for each team is rather close to the midfield ratio.


We've already observed the significant proportion of special event goals out of total goals, as well as the importance of midfield so that the special events ratio isn't only related to the amount of players with specialities that both teams have.


That said, it's now clear that in order to win more matches, we need to have as many players with specialities as we can and have a better midfield than our rival - the bigger the difference, the better. But is there a great difference between having or not many players with specialities? Would it be enough to have a better midfield and strong attacks to win lots of matches? As midfield is so important, would special events do anything other than making a bigger difference in matches which were already decided by midfield and attack?


Let's try to answer these questions with the following table. Let's look at all the U-20 matches that had been played until March 12th, 2010, and see how many of these matches were decided by special events. However, we are only going to take into account the positive special events which decided the result of a match thanks to the specialities of the benefitted team's players - that is, we won't be taking into account these matches which were decided due to unpredictable players generating an event against their own team. This way, we'll be trying to find out how beneficial it can be to have players with specialities, but we won't be taking into account the cases in which they play against us.


Result Amount of matches Percentage
Same result 6638 89,34%
Earns 1 point 317 4,27%
Earns 2 points 451 6,07%
Earns 3 points 24 0,44%


According to the data in the previous table, it doesn't really look like special events have decided the result of many matches. Let's look at the data from the Spanish U-20 team, which often has a lot of players which specialities, so as to see how the Spaniards in particular have been affected by special events.


Result Amount of matches Percentage
Same result 180 96,77%
Earns 1 point 2 1,08%
Earns 2 points 4 2,15%
Earns 3 points 0 0,00%


Let's now look into how many special events caused by any speciality of U-20 Spanish players ended up causing a goal, both for and against Spain.


  Unpredictable Quick Corner kick Wing Technical Total
Nº de goles 5 22 19 10 0 56
Evento/partido 0,027 0,118 0,102 0,054 0,000 0,301
Frecuencia 1/37 partidos 1/8 partidos 1/10 partidos 1/19 partidos Nunca 1/3 partidos


Judging from this, it looks like special events are rather overrated. They are sometimes useful, but it doesn't really look like it is a good idea to choose players with lower skills or wasting lots of money in exchange for a player with an speciality which can cause goals - specially after we know that most of these goals don't change the actual result very often.

Do they improve goalaverage? Yes, but how many ties for the top stops in the World Cup groups are decided because of this? How many positions would be the same without goals caused by special events?

It's worth taking into account that specialities are also useful to avoid rivals scoring goals due to special events, but we also need to keep in mind that some specialities can cause weather events weather events against us, which hamper that player's performance - and the team's.

At this time, U-20 Spain has 5 unpredictable players, 6 head players, 2 quick players, 3 powerful players and 1 technical players. 17 players out of 26 have an speciality - and there are two trainers there as well. 17 players are the 71 % of 24. This alone isn't particularly noteworthy - but the fact is, this is the way things usually go in the Spanish U-20 team. More than half of the players do always have specialities, which is considered to be usual. This indicates that sometimes, not the best players are picked - instead, some other ones are chosen for the U-20 team, simply because they have an speciality.

Obviously, this is a decision for the U-20 Spanish staffVer? to make, just like any manager would make his picks to benefit his own team, but would the staff from any U-20 team still make the same decision once they've seen this data? And would you make it?

If you are a betting person, then you might consider answering to the previous questions - I do have an answer myself.

I hope you have found this study interesting.


Thanks to N4D13 for translate.