Differences in attacking play between successful and unsuccessful teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Soccer has received a lot of research and performance analysis due to its global popularity and large financial incentives on offer for success in large tournaments. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in attacking play between successful and unsuccessful teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as these differences could ultimately account for a team winning or losing (Frencken and Lemmink, 2010). A sample of 12 teams was used, with two group matches analysed for each team (24 matches). The 4 successful teams were defined as the teams that reached the semi-final stage of the tournament and the 8 unsuccessful teams were defined as the teams that finished bottom of their respective groups and so did not make it through the group stage of the tournament. A specifically designed hand notation sheet was created to record the following variables: the frequency and location of shots and goals, the quantity of passes prior to shots and goals, the type of assist, the frequency and location of possessions won and whether a shot occurred in said possessions, the frequency of final 3rd and penalty area entries. The results of this study showed successful teams to have significantly greater values in the following areas: goals scored (p = 0.005), percentage goals from shots (p = 0.013), shots taken inside the six yard box (p = 0.003), shots and goals assisted from a direct shot (p = 0.001), percentage penalty area entries through middle third (p = 0.019) and right third (p = 0.023), and percentage possessions won in the attacking third (0.009). Findings of this study can be applied in a performance environment to assist soccer coaches developing tactical strategies to improve the ability of players to gain entry into the penalty area for closer shots and to attempt to win possession closer to the attacking goal by pressuring the opposition defences higher up the pitch. Future research could investigate the differences in attacking play at other international and elite club tournaments, or the differences in defensive play between teams at the FIFA World Cup.
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