Opposition interaction in creating penetration during match play in elite soccer: evidence from UEFA champions league matches
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport. 2017, 17, 802-812. 10.1080/24748668.2017.1399326
The aim of this study is to compare how penetrations were created between the Finalists and Non-finalists by assessing opposition interaction in elite soccer. Sample included data from 12 matches played from the round of 16 to the final of the UEFA Champions League season 2010/2011. Differences in creating dangerous penetrations were found only after controlling for the effects of opponent’s defensive balance. Three way repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the interaction of team status and opponent’s defensive balance had a meaningful effect on the percentage of penetrative ball actions into dangerous spaces (F2,20 = 2.9, p = 0.076, partial η2 = 0.227). Finalists performed a higher percentage of dangerous penetrative ball actions per match than Non-finalists when playing against an imbalanced defence (89.2 ± 14.0 vs. 77.6 ± 13.6), while Non-finalists performed a higher percentage when playing against balanced (25.8 ± 10.7 vs. 16.1 ± 12.5) and beginning imbalanced (32.8 ± 10.9 vs. 29.1 ± 9.2) defences. Results suggest that effective exploitation of spaces within and behind the last line of opponent’s defence is an important determinant of successful offensive performance in soccer. The assessment of opposition interaction is of critical importance when analysing elite soccer performance.
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