Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: Soccer: Success factors in international tournaments


Millions of fans will again be concerned with the question of what is important in order to survive in an international tournament at the European Football Championship this summer. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now noticeably expanded the factual basis for such debates. In the journal Frontiers in Psychology, a team of three researchers from the Institute for Sports and Sports Science has now presented a statistical analysis of the 2014 and 2018 World Cup games .

The most important success factors proved to be the avoidance of mistakes on the defensive as well as the efficiency in front of the opposing goal, especially after counterattacks. In contrast, “optical” achievements such as possession of the ball or the absolute number of shots were surprisingly insignificant.

In their investigation, the Karlsruhe scientists put a grid of 29 variables over the data from 108 World Cup games classified as “narrow”. In addition to values such as accuracy of fit, frequency of errors or walking distance, characteristics such as average age and market value were also taken into account. “Our results indicate that a solid defensive structure, paired with high efficiency on the offensive, especially after counterattacks, is particularly promising,” said the team of authors. The researchers carry out the transfer of their findings into training and competition practice in cooperation projects with several clubs.

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