“Football is too much of a game to be a science, but implies too much science to be just a game.” – Miguel Cardoso
Due to the rise of big data, soccer clubs are beginning to implement the usage of specific analytics in an effort to increase performance. There is no question that data can help clubs and coaches make smarter decisions, however the challenge is to create appropriate metrics that can translate numbers (data) into useful information for the technical staff. After searching the web for free data sites, three sites were discovered that appear to do an excellent job of translating data to usable information. The three sites include: www.squawka.com, www.fourfourtwo.com, and www.whoscored.com. Each website offers slightly different characteristics that coaches can take advantage of.
Www.squawka.com utilizes a platform that provides comparative analytics between teams and players. One of the best aspects of the dashboard is the ability for a coach to compare data between seasons. For instance, Luis Enrique could utilize the dashboard to compare specific aspects of FC Barcelona’s style of play in the Champions League between this season and last season. The comparison could provide the coach with objective data to confirm whether or not the team is evolving as expected. For example, if Enrique wants his team to increase the “number of forward passes”, he could use the platform to gain objective data comparing the number of forward passes in the Champions League matches between last season and this season.
Www.fourfourtwo.com utilizes a similar dashboard as the previous site, but takes the analytics to a higher dimension with the usage of graphics to better illustrate the influences of the players in a match. In the dashboard, a coach can strategically examine the relationships between players by analyzing the number of passes between players. For instance, in the Atletico Madrid – Celta Vigo match, Diego Simeone could use the website to analyze the best partnerships in the game. By using the FourFourTwo analytics, Simeone would learn that his left striker and left midfielder connected the most passes of any duo in the team. The data can be especially useful if the tactical instructions of that specific game were to exploit Celta’s right side.
Www.whoscored.com is the third data platform that was analyzed and specifically, the dashboard provides unique insight into attacking tendencies. Within the dashboard, coaches are provided with objective insight into the channels that their team attacks in the most. For instance, in the Villareal – Real Madrid game, the dashboard clearly states that Villareal attacked down the right flank 44% of the time while only attacking down the left and central channel 27% and 29% respectively. Marcelino could interpret the data from the perspective that the team needs improve the variety of their attacks or from the point of view that the team executed his game plan perfectly.
As more technology is produced, coaches and clubs must constantly be aware of the information they want to gain from the data and thus how to transfer the information to the playing field to increase performance.