Tactical variables related to gaining the ball in advanced zones of the soccer pitch: analysis of differences among elite teams and the effect of contextual variables

Fernandez-Navarro, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-5367-1575, Ruiz-Ruiz, C., Zubillaga, A. and Fradua, L., 2020. Tactical variables related to gaining the ball in advanced zones of the soccer pitch: analysis of differences among elite teams and the effect of contextual variables. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 3040. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

Attacking tactical variables have been commonly studied in soccer to analyze teams’ performance. However, few studies investigated defensive tactical variables during match-play and the influence of contextual variables on them. The aims of the present study were (1) to examine the defensive behaviors of soccer teams when gaining the ball in advanced zones of the pitch and (2) to evaluate the effect of contextual variables on these defensive behaviors. A sample of 1,095 defensive pieces of play initiated in the opposing half of the pitch obtained from 10 matches of the season 2010/11 of La Liga and involving 13 teams was collected using the semiautomated tracking system Amisco Pro. Five defensive tactical variables, the outcome of defensive pieces of play, and contextual variables (i.e., match status, venue, quality of opposition, and match period) were recorded for every defensive piece initiated in the opposing half of the pitch. Results showed that there were significant differences among teams in the outcome of defensive pieces of play originating from the opposing half (χ2 = 111.87, p < 0.01, φc = 0.22), and in the outcome of offensive pieces of play following ball gains (χ2 = 49.92, p < 0.001, φc = 0.22). Cluster analysis revealed four groups describing different defensive behaviors from high-pressure to a defense close to their own goal. Match status (χ2 = 25.87, p < 0.05, φc = 0.11) and quality of opposition (χ2 = 21.19, p < 0.05, φc = 0.10) were the contextual variables that showed a significant effect on defensive pieces of play initiated in the opposite half of the pitch. Teams winning gained more balls in the zone close to their own goal, and losing teams gained more balls in advanced zones of the pitch. Moreover, the greater the quality of the opponent the lesser the chance of gaining the ball in advanced zones of the pitch. Neither venue or match period influenced the defensive pieces of play analyzed. Soccer teams could employ a similar analysis to improve their performance and prepare for opposition teams in competition.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Psychology
Creators: Fernandez-Navarro, J., Ruiz-Ruiz, C., Zubillaga, A. and Fradua, L.
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Date: 21 January 2020
Volume: 10
ISSN: 1664-1078
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03040DOI
1352680Other
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 11 Sep 2020 16:01
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2020 16:01
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/40694

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