Beauty and the Geek

When the beautiful game and statistical wonkery collide, expect predictive magic

Updated: June 20, 2010, 11:52 AM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the June 28 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Want a sleeper team in the World Cup this summer? Try Chile, but stay away from Greece.

I offer these picks to you with confidence, because while soccer is a difficult sport to analyze at an individual level, new metrics and models do provide projections of how teams will fare in big events like the World Cup.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.