App review

Total Football - Champions League

May 29, 2011
By Zac Lee Rigg

Rating:

Harry Redknapp maintains that "the numbers game is not the beautiful game". Maybe he's right. Maybe we should all sigh and begrudgingly admit that a column of stats will never possess the inherent beauty of an arching cross or a backheel flick. But that doesn't make the Total Football - Champions League app any less fascinating to peruse or its layout any less slick.

Total Football - Champions League App
SoccernetProvided by stats giants Opta, Total Football - Champions League gives fans a comprehensive insight into players' performances

For any involved with what the Guardian's Barney Ronay has dubbed 'the New Seriousness' - the recent obsession with tactics, and statistical and graphical analysis - the Total Football app is easily the best place to find in-depth statistics on Champions League games. Companies like Castrol, Prozone and Opta Sports (Opta powers the app) make it possible to break down any area of football to a concrete stat, but access to the raw data costs roughly three arms and two legs - certainly more than the layman can afford.

Total Football gives you stats on the Champions League, along with cute little graphs, for £0.59 for the knockout rounds. The graphs are what make it click for the visually oriented. You can blithely note that Xavi received 123 passes in the semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, but it's not until you see 123 little blue arrows flowing from box to box and sideline to sideline that you start to feel the enormity of the Barca maestro's availability in midfield.

Especially key for winning those classic bar arguments is the 'Player Influence' option. This serves as a combination heat map and impact gauge, with the players who exert a bigger influence having their name written in a bigger font. All you have to do is whip out your iPhone to prove what you've been arguing: "See, I told you Rooney dropped as deep as the midfield against Schalke."

Should all your friends be virtual, that's alright too. The app makes it surprisingly easy to share any graph or chart you come across through Twitter, Facebook, email, Tumblr, or just as a picture.

Breakdowns of individual matches aren't the only thing on offer; there's also suggested analysis, which includes some selected interesting chalkboards and top 10 lists. The lists compile data from all of the year's matches, but go far beyond your average stats.

Want to know which goalkeeper has punched the ball the most times per game? Need to know who has conceded the most fouls? Curious as to whose passes led to the most shots? Well, if you weren't before, you certainly are now. And it's just a short load away. (For the record, it's Valencia's Cesar, Dame Doye, and Mesut Oezil, respectively.)

The one frustrating aspect of Total Football (aside from the limitation to the Champions League – hopefully more leagues will make an appearance next season), is the long load times. Obviously the rich data and graphical analysis can't update immediately, but the delay can be frustrating even on Wi-Fi. On 3G, forget about it, unless you're of patient ilk.

That qualm aside, even Harry Redknapp and Barney Ronay are bound to find some faint amusement were they to click around in it following a round of Champions League matches.

Follow Zac Lee Rigg on Twitter - @zacrigg