Tactical Variables Related to Gaining the Ball in Advanced Zones of the Soccer Pitch: Analysis of Differences Among Elite Teams and the Effect of Contextual Variables
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Performance analysisLa LigaAssociation footballDefending tacticsMatch Analysis
Fernandez-Navarro J, Ruiz-Ruiz C, Zubillaga A and Fradua L (2020) Tactical Variables Related to Gaining the Ball in Advanced Zones of the Soccer Pitch: Analysis of Differences Among Elite Teams and the Effect of Contextual Variables. Front. Psychol. 10:3040.
Attacking tactical variables have been commonly studied in soccer to analyze teams’ performance. However, few studies investigated defensive tactical variables during match-play and the influence of contextual variables on them. The aims of the present study were (1) to examine the defensive behaviors of soccer teams when gaining the ball in advanced zones of the pitch and (2) to evaluate the effect of contextual variables on these defensive behaviors. A sample of 1,095 defensive pieces of play initiated in the opposing half of the pitch obtained from 10 matches of the season 2010/11 of La Liga and involving 13 teams was collected using the semiautomated tracking system Amisco Pro. Five defensive tactical variables, the outcome of defensive pieces of play, and contextual variables (i.e., match status, venue, quality of opposition, and match period) were recorded for every defensive piece initiated in the opposing half of the pitch. Teams winning gained more balls in the zone close to their own goal, and losing teams gained more balls in advanced zones of the pitch. Moreover, the greater the quality of the opponent the lesser the chance of gaining the ball in advanced zones of the pitch. Neither venue or match period influenced the defensive pieces of play analyzed. Soccer teams could employ a similar analysis to improve their performance and prepare for opposition teams in competition.