Only a few hours left until the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil … A reader from Germany recently sent me a clipping from the May edition of Germanwings inflight magazine (read it online here). The article on page 36/37 has this Sankey diagram:

Interesting visualization, though not fully in line with the basic rules for Sankey diagrams. The width of the bands represents the number of times the world cup has been won. The main issue is that only eight of the participating countries have ever won the cup (Brazil, the pentacampeão won it 5 times, so far…). For most of the nations shown, the green stream or arrow thus stands for zero wins. Zero (nil) however is impossible to display in a Sankey diagram, if you want to maintain the basic rule of arrows being proportional in width to the quantity displayed by them.

Several approaches have been proposed for the “zero quantity flows” such as a thin dotted line, or a thin line with a label “no flow”, or a colourless line. In the above case the choice of the diagram type is – in my opinion – not the luckiest one. The main message is that all teams are dreaming of getting to Rio’s Maracanã stadium on July 13.

Also see my two posts for the 2010 world cup here and here with a slightly different Sankey diagram.

Blog reader W. Rufer sent a scan of a Sankey diagram from his favourite soccer magazine.

Rufer writes: “I found this rather unusual Sankey diagram in a German soccer magazine called 11Freunde (11Friends). It visualizes the career of French international Nicolas Anelka in terms of transfer and lending fees. He started in the youth team of Paris Saint-Germain, changed to their first team in 1995 and got sold to Arsenal for 750’000 € (left side of the Sankey diagram). From there he made his way through Europe, sometimes for incredible transfer fees of about 35 million €. Now, as a rather old player, he earns his money in China.”

The legend also has grey arrows, when Anelka was “on loan” to another club. The change to his current club was without tranfer fee (different blue).

Following up to my last post after the knockout of the 2010 FIFA world cup. Well, things have cooled down a bit now, so here is the completed Sankey diagram showing the tournaments goals.

As one commenter put it, you can “see that Spain’s road to success is a rather boring one (a thin line of 1:0 wins) while Germany was pretty inefficient (big lines, no gain).”

Drawing this was fun, although I was not happy to see my favourite team drop out in the quarter finals already…

In doing the Sankey diagram I found it difficult to handle null flows (that is, explicit zeros, not “no value”) in a Sankey diagram. Also I am not happy with the differentiation of regular goals and penalty goals (brown Sankey arrows). Maybe I’ll come up with a different presentation in time before the 2014 worldcup in Brazil…. ;-)

Inspired by the diagram on the knockout stage of the 2010 FIFA worldcup, I just had the idea to “sankeyfy” it. The width of the Sankey arrow represents the number of goals scored. Penalty goals are shown in different color (brown), but to scale.

Now I have to run for the Brazil-Netherlands match….

Will update this diagram after the quarter-finals…