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World Cup analysis - it's not just about England

By ‎@James_Quilter‎

England fans love supporting England's World Cup campaign on Twitter. But the fact is, for them, Twitter is about more than just the England games.

The same is true for other countries.

But what makes supposedly neutral footie fans reach for their phone and Tweet out their views with the world? 

Spoiler alert - the answer is simple and yet at the same time complex. A bit like football, really. 

So, the tournament has been running through the group stages and we know the most-Tweeted games. 

Looking at Twitter data from the first week,  the most Tweeted game by UK audiences, second to England’s win over Tunisia, was last week’s draw between Spain and Portugal. 

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Portugal v Spain in Tweets

Portugal v Spain had everything, goals, great players and a good old-fashioned rivalry most countries can empathise with and understand. 

Let’s analyse the game and how UK Twitter users reacted to it. 

The game itself followed something of a classic pattern. Portugal takes the lead. Spain levels. Portugal leads. Then Spain goes ahead with two quick goals to make it 3-2. 

Portugal is on the way to losing its opening game until one of the world's two best players (Cristiano Ronaldo) scores a wonder free kick. 

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Portugal may have grabbed a crucial draw. But in Twitter terms, Ronaldo was the biggest winner. 

When he scored at 20.45, the UK Tweets per Minutes (TPM) for the games maxed at around 11,000. 

Compare this to England's match that brought in 50,000 when Kane equalised . It shows there is massive interest in the tournament as a whole, not just England.

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People watch their home team because they are emotionally involved. But for UK fans, Spain-Portugal was simply about watching a great game. 

Spikes of interest

Despite the six goals, the timeline itself was dominated by five TPM spikes. Out of these, the biggest two were for Ronaldo's second and third goals. In these Portugal took the lead and got back on equal terms. 

At 20.46 Ronaldo’s third and last goal hit a peak of 10,000 TPM more than double that of his second goal at 19.45 (4,700) TPM.

What about Spain’s two-goals?

So far this seems understandable. Two Portugal goals, scored by a world-renowned player, change the flow of the match before half and full-time.

But what about the two goals Spain scored to take the lead? Costa’s might have been a tap-in. But Nacho’s goal, which took the lead, was a great strike. 

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Why did Spain’s goals draw fewer Tweets? 

There are some things that go on on Twitter that you will never figure out. But Costa is generally disliked in England (unless you support Chelsea) while Nacho is relatively unknown. 

General user behaviour 

One interesting point is how the goals mirror typical Twitter behaviour where an event will trigger a massive spike in Tweets. 

But rather than fall off a cliff edge, there was a slow decline in Tweets as other users respond to them or author their own.

A good example of this is Ronaldo's second goal. Four minutes after his second goal the TPM was still around 2,200. 

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Half-time Tweeting

Another interesting finding is that the Tweets don't appear to fall off at half-time. 

It may be the timing of Ronaldo's but there appears to be evidence that half-time is a great time to look away from the TV ads and pundit analysis. Instead, or as well as, fans are turning to Twitter. 

Conclusion - it’s about more than just the game

What can we draw from this? 

In Twitter terms, a game is built up around goals and other major incidents such as sending offs, injuries, and various one-off misdemeanors such as players biting each other. 

However, quality of goal, it's timing, and the profile of the scorer, also have a major effect on the number of Tweets. 

And from an advertising point of view, it shows people are Tweeting and watching games for the pure love of the game.

But, more importantly, it highlights how Twitter has become part of football’s viewing experience. 

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And from an advertising point of view, it shows people are Tweeting and watching games for the pure love of football.

But, more importantly, it highlights how Twitter has become part of football’s overall viewing experience. 

 

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