The technological evolution in soccer

“We live in a world surrounded by technology and soccer can’t avoid it”. The words are from Pierluigi Collina and it shows the importance of technology in today’s soccer, as it is an important tool for all sporting agents which is used in several ways and with different purposes, like to improve athlete’s and team performance and even to increase the effectiveness of the referee’s decisions.

Technology in soccer

Soccer is a major sport and it quickly added technology in its world. Many players are commonly seen today wearing devices that allow the monitoring of the distances they’ve traveled in a match (GPS) or their heart-rate (heart-rate monitor). In 2015, the goal line system was implemented, which signals if the ball completely goes beyond the goal line, and more recently, the video-referee has also been introduced to assist the referees in the most difficult decisions. It is worth mentioning that performance analysis software is being used by most technical teams in the present days, which allow the analysis and evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative data in all moments of the game.

The importance of the video

When we visually observe a movement, it is not automatically registered, and so there was a necessity to find some sort of tool which would allow its annotation; the video was the answer, and with it, the movements could be reviewed, its key aspects could be identified and eventual mistakes could be corrected. Today, the video is a key instrument for most of the teams as it opens the possibility to examine in detail the behaviors of the team and the opponent, at any place and at any time.

Why it’s important to use video analysis

There are several reasons that support the use of the video. For example, with it, we can individually develop our players, increase the objectivity of our feedback which concerns the individual and collective performances, enrich the process of analyzing the opponents thus developing a better preparation for the competition Also to improve our process of recruiting new players for the team.

The importance of individual and collective analysis

The current manager of FC Porto, Sergio Conceição, has said in the book “Observar para Ganhar”, by Nuno Ventura, that analyzing the team and the opponent is a key task for all coaches. In addition to this idea, José Mourinho, in an interview to the newspaper Expresso, has claimed: “to me, it is crucial to analyze the opponent because the way I play is influenced by the opponent I’m playing against, and the training sessions are built around it. These two statements support the idea that top coaches place a great value on the process of analyzing the opponent and their own team, demonstrating that it is a decisive component that not only influences the game itself but also the training microcycle that precedes the competition.

Let’s look at the following example: after analyzing the video of our next opponent, we identify 3 different situations regarding their defensive process: 1) the striker does not press the player in possession of the ball, 2) no one covers the defensive midfielder when he leaves his position to press and 3) the right-back is very far from the center-back on the same side, leaving a huge gap between them.

A clear example of a very common mistake: a gap between a full-back and a center-back.

After detecting weaknesses, we as coaches, for example, decide that: 1) our center-backs should play a key role in the build-up phase of the offensive process, 2) situations of 2×1 should be created in the intermediate area and 3) the left winger should execute depth movements between the right-back and the center-back. After deciding what we will do to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, we train these behaviors in the week that precedes the game.

As we can understand by this example, our strategic plan for this particular game is more enriched because we analyzed our opponent, and we will be closer to victory thanks to the video. In addition to the aforementioned aspects, it is equally relevant to add the analysis of the opponent’s offensive process (ex: pattern plays, most influential players, etc), it’s transitions (ex: areas where more balls are recovered, initial attitude after the loss/recovery of the ball, etc) and the set-pieces (ex: players positioning, target areas, etc), also including an individual analysis, that is, the player profile, his strengths/weaknesses, etc.

There are many variables that influence the final score of a soccer match. However, knowing your own team and the opponent you’re playing against greatly reduces the degree of uncertainty, and objectively brings you closer to success.

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