DIFFERENCES IN ATTACKING PLAY BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL AND UNSUCCESSFUL TEAMS IN THE UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2010-11 COMPETITION
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Although football has been the focus of considerable performance analysis research, little attention has been paid to the UEFA Champions League. On the basis of this, and the fact that the differences between successful and unsuccessful teams ultimately account for winning or losing (Frencken and Lemmink, 2009), this study aimed to identify the differences in attacking play between successful and unsuccessful teams in the UEFA Champions League 2010-11 competition. Successful teams were defined as the 4 teams who reached the semi-finals. Unsuccessful teams were defined as the 6 teams that finished on the fewest points after the group stage of the tournament. A hand notation system was designed to record the following variables; the frequency and location of shots and goals, the number of passes preceding shots and goals, the type of assist, frequency and location of possession won, and the frequency of final 3rd and penalty area entries. It was found that successful teams produced significantly higher values for the following variables; shots and goals (p < 0.05), shots and goals from inside the penalty area (p < 0.01), won possessions that ended in no shot (p < 0.05) and shot in the midfield 3rd (p < 0.05), won possession ending in no shot in the attacking 3rd (p < 0.05), entries into the final 3rd (p < 0.01) and penalty area (p < 0.01). In applied situations the results of this study could be used to develop strategies that will enhance the frequency with which a team can gain entry into their opponents defensive 3rd, and when in there creating shooting opportunities - preferably from within the penalty area. Future studies should take into account extra situational factors relevant to attacking play, or examine the differences in defensive variables between successful and unsuccessful teams in the UEFA Champions League.
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