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Styles of Play in Elite Soccer: Identification and Definition of the Attacking and Defensive Styles of Play in the English Premier League and the 1st Spanish League

Fernández Navarro, FJ (2015) Styles of Play in Elite Soccer: Identification and Definition of the Attacking and Defensive Styles of Play in the English Premier League and the 1st Spanish League. Masters thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Deciding on effective team strategies and tactics is fundamental to successful performance in soccer (Carling et al., 2005). Previous studies have addressed the influence of the styles of play when measuring technical and tactical aspects in soccer (Bradley et al., 2011; Duarte, Araujo, Correia, & Davids, 2012; Fradua et al., 2013; James, Mellalieu, & Hollely, 2002; Lago-Peñas, Lago-Ballesteros, & Rey, 2011; Pollard & Reep, 1997; Pollard, Reep, & Hartley, 1988; Tenga, Holme, Ronglan, & Bahr, 2010b; Tenga & Larsen, 2003; Tenga & Sigmundstad, 2011). Different attacking and defending styles of play and associated variables have been identified (Bate, 1988; Hughes & Franks, 2005a; Lago-Peñas & Dellal, 2010; Pollard et al., 1988; Tenga, Holme, et al., 2010b; Tenga & Larsen, 2003). ‘Direct’ and ‘possession’ are the styles of play most often described (Bate, 1988; Garganta, Maia, & Basto, 1997; Hughes & Franks, 2005a; Olsen & Larsen, 1997; Redwood-Brown, 2008; Ruiz-Ruiz, Fradua, Fernandez-Garcia, & Zubillaga, 2011; Tenga, Holme, Ronglan, & Bahr, 2010a; Tenga, Holme, et al., 2010b; Tenga & Larsen, 2003; Tenga, Ronglan, & Bahr, 2010; Travassos, Davids, Araujo, & Esteves, 2013). The aims of this thesis were to identify and define the different styles of play in elite soccer, compare the results with the previous styles of play and to classify the observed teams’ styles of play.Data were collected from ninety-seven matches from the 1st Spanish League and the English Premier League from the seasons 2006-2007 and 2010-2011 using the Amisco® system. A total of nineteen variables, fourteen in attack and five in defence were measured in the analysis. Factor analysis using principal component analysis was carried out using the nineteen variables to cluster each team’s style of play based on their factor scores.Six factors, representing the different styles of play, were extracted and in combination explained 87.54% of the variance. Factor 1 explained the largest variance, while each subsequent factor explained less of the variance in descending order. Factor 1 differentiates between teams that use a direct or possession play. Factor 2 distinguishes between teams that usually regain the ball in the wide areas or in the central areas of the pitch. Factor 3 measures how much possession of the ball teams have in the defensive third and the use of centres. Factor 4 represents the width of the teams’ possession. Factor 5 distinguishes between teams that use high or low pressure. Factor 6 measures how the teams progress in the attack.Playing styles can be defined by specific variables and consequently, teams can be classified by their styles of play. For practical implications, the variables of a team that utilise a style of play can be measured and compared with the reference values of the style of play we want to develop. To improve the performance, a team that utilise a specific style of play should use training tasks that improve the variables typical of that style of play.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance analysis Match analysis Football SoccerTactics Factor analysis Premier League La Liga
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2016 12:46
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2016 12:46
Supervisors: McRobert, AP and Ford, PR and Scott, M
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4464

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