I've been thinking lately that the "importance" of a win in a soccer match depends on how good the opponent is.

Let's take the spanish league for example. You have some elite teams like Barcelona FC, or Real Madrid FC who win most of the games and are in other words powerhouses. You also have some other teams which are good enough to stay on the league but they are not elite...

So i've been thinking if a normal mediocre team manages to score a win against an elite team like Barcelona FC or Real wouldn't it make sense to consider this win more important than a win against a weaker opponent?

So basically what i am asking can someone propose a grading system or something along those lines that would allow to quantify the importance of wins against opponents of different caliber?

  • $\begingroup$ What does "important" mean? $\endgroup$ – ziggystar Oct 17 '14 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ if let's say a win in general counts as 1 a win against a superior opponents counts as 2 or something like that. If Barcelona wins against a really weak opponent then that win should count as 0.5. At least that is what i am thinking... $\endgroup$ – Sotiris Oct 17 '14 at 21:09

This is the basis of Elo type rating systems:

  • you use the current ratings of the opponents to predict an expected outcome
  • you adjust the two ratings in proportion to the difference between the actual outcome and the expected outcome

While Elo ranking is best known for Chess, there are sites which apply this system to football.

Taking one particular site and looking at the relatively unknown Spanish team of Granada, when it lost $6-0$ to Barcelona on 27 September its rating fell by $3$, while when it beat Barcelona $1-0$ on 12 April its ranking went up by $18$, compared with its $2-1$ win over Deportivo de La Corunna on 23 August which gave it $+7$ ranking points.

  • $\begingroup$ Useful information!! On curiosity, on this rating systems how would you set the initial rating of already well established teams? A baseline? $\endgroup$ – Ramalho Oct 18 '14 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ You would want to give it a rating similar to teams it was perceived to be as likely to win or lose against. $\endgroup$ – Henry Oct 18 '14 at 11:53

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