Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid and Rey Juan Carlos University used complex networks and data from the 2018-2019 season of the Spanish Football League to verify that the performances of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are more consistent. Barcelona also showed the most recognizable game types.
data analysis football It usually focuses on each player. For example, his number of goals, missed opportunities, pass success rate or travel distance can be used by any fan. In addition, access to this information actually occurs in real time.
However, due to Network scienceAlso known as complex network theory, it can analyze the structure of the network to explain the processes that take place, such as games that take place on the game field.
This type of analysis is also very popular because all events that occur in this field are now recorded, tagged and classified. From the exact position of the beginning and end of each pass, to the height of each shot and the position of the defender.
Seems not enough, camera It is installed by the Spanish Professional Football League in all the first and second division stadiums. It can know the position of each player with an error of less than 10 cm and a time resolution of 25 images per second.
In this case, from Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) with Ray Juan Carlos University (URJC) They applied a variety of network science methods to study the ability of football teams to develop specific styles.In his work, published in magazines Scientific report, They analyzed 2018/2019 season From Lariga Santander,focus on Pass between players.
“You can’t just look at the player’s personal number to describe the player’s behavior on the court. It must include information about the interaction with his colleagues and his competitors. This is the premise of the scientific basis of complexity: it is impossible to integrate complex systems It is broken down into separate parts to analyze it, and the entire system must be analyzed. The strange thing is that in every interview, the best player in the game repeats the idea behind this: not me, but the team” , Co-author’s comment Javier Buldu,Coordinator Biological Network Laboratory UPM and URJC in Biomedical Technology Center.
Pass network for 380 games this season
Another author David GarridoA member of the URJC center research team explained: “We have established a passing network for the 380 games of this season. These networks are formed by nodes (field areas) connected to each other through links (channels). Said channel network. Next, we study how each team’s network creates different patterns throughout the game, analyze their structure, and then compare some team’s networks with other teams.”
To carry out this research, the researchers divided the sports field into multiple parts, where the connection between them depends on the number of passes between each pair of parts. These networks are different for each team and vary from game to game.
One of the advantages of this work is that it analyzes the evolution of each team’s passing network throughout the season: “We converted a team’s passing network into a matrix and compared it over the entire 38 games. Crossover Comparison. In this way, we can detect which teams have more regular rules, that is, which teams play more clearly.” Daniel AntequeraAnother researcher who participated in the study added: “We can also see the performance of the team in the game or at home, and even which team is more loyal to its own style in a particular game.”
In this way, the team calculated the correlation between each team’s matrix to evaluate What is consistent is his passing style.Next, they quantify the difference between the different matrices to obtain the parameters Recognizability This shows how unique the passing style of a given team is.
It turns out that, as expected, royal house Madrid with FC Barcelona Has the highest consistency. In fact, in that season, they ranked first, third and first respectively. Real Betis and Atletico Madrid are close behind in the consistent ranking.
Barcelona meets both requirements
“In the first study, we only used the network in the past, that is, we did not tell the algorithm who created the greatest chance, who won the most goals or who won the most points. Nevertheless, The most stable team seems to be ranked high. Strangely, we found that FC Barcelona is a team that meets two requirements at the same time: Very consistent pass network, besides, different The rest of the team. In neuroscience, this attribute is the so-called recognizability, so we can say that FC Barcelona is the most recognizable team, in other words, the team most different from the other teams in La Riga,” Burdu Say.
This work is an example Football Multidisciplinary Research, Because it involves the collaboration between scientists from the Biomedical Technology Center, LaLiga’s “Sports Field and Media Coach” and researchers from ESADE Business School. As Buldú explained, “This article would not have been possible without the help of the LaLiga sports area. The LaLiga sports area has all the necessary data for analysis and the knowledge to explain them.”
Researchers believe that it is too early to assess the impact of this method, but it is clear that more and more clubs that want to have differentiated advantages in other areas will have to integrate scientists into their teams. . Will the way of understanding and playing football change?
D. Garrido, JMBuldú, etc. “Football Team Consistency and Recognition: The Perspective of Network Science”. Scientific report