HOW POSSESSION IS OBTAINED AND USED BY MAJOR INTERNATIONAL TEAMS IN FOOTBALL TO CREATE GOAL SCORING CHANCES, WITH ADDITIONAL FOCUS ON THE EFFECT OF WINNING 50/50 BALLS.
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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This study documents the ways leading International football teams obtain ball possession in a major competition, and whether the possession outcomes are positive or negative. Particular attention was provided into the effect of 50/50 ball situations that occur in matches, revealing if this area that has been excluded from previous performance analysis studies in football, has any importance in match outcomes. With the use of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, seventeen matches were analysed, consisting of matches from the round of the last 16 onwards, whilst a group stage match involving the competition winners Spain was used to test system reliability using Kappa percentage error. Focus was placed on the four nations to reach the semi final, providing comparisons between the most successful teams competing. Findings identified that the majority of possessions begin through an interception or 50/50 ball being won in the middle third of the pitch, whilst most possession outcomes end in either the same third the possession was obtained or in a more advanced third. 50/50 balls won in the middle third of the pitch were found to have no impact on match results, although 50/50 balls won by teams in the final third impacted on match outcomes. Of the 45 goals analysed and included in the study, 46% were scored in passing sequences consisting of four or more passes, proving previous research findings incorrect. Using SPSS, Chi Squared analysis and Kruskal Wallis tests were conducted revealing three significant variables (p<0.05), interceptions made in a teams own third, opponent interceptions in the final third, and possessions consisting of twelve passes.
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