Do English football teams have different passing styles between European and domestic competition?
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Football has received considerable attention since research began on notational analysis systems, (James, Mellalieu and Holley, 2002), with match analysis being a large area of study (Grehaigne et al., 2001; Lago-Penas et al., 2009), specifically research into the possessions and passing styles of teams, which has shown contradictory findings (Jones et al., 2004; Scoulding et al., 2004). Most past research on passing styles has been done with international teams, mainly at different FIFA World Cups (Yamanaka et al., 1993; Grehaigne et al., 2002; Tenga and Larsen, 2003; Scoulding et al., 2004; Hughes and Franks, 2005). The purpose of this study was to determine if the English teams have a different passing style in European competition to domestic competition. A hypothesis was made that the teams would show more defensive qualities in passing style in the European competition and more attacking qualities in passing style in domestic competition. Seventeen games were analysed, eight from the Champions League, and nine from the Premier League. Pearson’s Chi-square (2) was used to look for differences between the two competitions (p<0.05). The main findings suggest that the ball is passed around in more defensive areas of the pitch with more cautionary passes in European competition, whilst in domestic competition the ball is passed into wider positions and into attacking areas quicker, with attack minded players being brought onto the ball quicker. However, the tactics of a team may not stay the same throughout the match due to the evolving status of the game (Jones et al., 2004). Practically, this research can allow coaches to assess their own players and assess opposition teams and decide the best way to beat the opposing team. Future research should look at the later stages of the Champions League and analyse if a team’s tactics change from the group stages.
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