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Can empirical data unravel the mysteries of football as well as explain some of its familiar patterns?

Those trends have been on display at the ongoing World Cup in South Africa.

Brazil, Argentina and Germany have played with ruthless efficiency while England, France and Portugal have once again been unable to live up to the hype.

Although Asian and African teams are improving slowly, this World Cup is once again turning into the usual tussle between Latin America and Europe.

There are many who argue that everything we have seen in this competition so far can be explained by data analysis and numbers, while others say football is the sum total of one's emotional relationship with the game.

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On Wednesday's show we ask: Can science and rational calculations improve a nation's success in football and will it help us predict future World Cup winners?

Joining the show will be author and journalist Simon Kuper, who has written extensively on the game. He most recently co-authored Soccernomics, a book that tries to quantify football through mathematics and science.

We will also have with us Al Jazeera's football correspondent Andrew Richardson who is covering the World Cup in South Africa.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired from Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera