An analysis of the possession patterns employed in England's FA premier and Spain's La Liga
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The nation that possesses the greatest quality football league is a debated topic amongst critics inside and outside of professional football. When judged on European success of the last ten years it appears that Spain's La Liga is ahead of England's FA Premier. Existing research of playing patterns in football has traditionally focussed on teams in international competitions (e.g. Hughes et al., 1988; Luhtanen et al., 2001) or on outcome variables and attacking strategies (e.g. Bate, 1988; Yamanaka et al., 1993). Little research exists focussing upon the general playing styles of clubs from two different countries. The aim of this study is to examine the possession pafferns of matches from England's FA Premier and Spain's LaLlga. Six matches from both the FA Premier and La Liga2002-2003 season (N:12) were analysed post-event using a computerised notation system designed at the Liverpool polytechnic by Hughes et al. (l9SS). Mean and total scores for each variable were calculated for each match in the respective leagues. The two types of match were compared using descriptive and inferential statistics (Mann-Whitney U tests) Analysis revealed that in an FA Premier match there were significantly more possessions (P <0.01), possessions involving 0 and l-passes (P <0.01), possessions involving I and 2-players (P <0.01), possessions of 0-9s duration (P <0'01), lost controls (P <0.01), and throw-ins (P <0.05), than in LaLiga. Total distance covered in possession (P <0.01) was also significantly longer in the FA Premier, than in La Liga. Analysis also revealed that in aLaLiga match there were significantly more passes (P <0.01), possessions involving 6-passes (P <0.05) and 8+ passes (P <0'01), possessions involving 6 and 7-players (P <0.01), possessions of 20+s duration (P <0.01), and free kicks (P <0.05), than in the FA Premier League. The average number of passes in a possession (P <0.01), average number of players in a possession (P <0.01) and average duration of a possession (P <0.01) were also significantly higher in La Liga.
BSc (Hons) Sport, PE and Recreation
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