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Technical grades of impactful attacking actions of the 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Finals

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Jesús Rico-Sanz, PhD

Soccer Performance & Science Institute


 

Introduction

In oder to be fair to the talent that players exhibit during top match conditions, it is important that the match analysis grades performance objectively. Furthermore, the grades for attacking and defending technical and tactical performance set the basis for player development. Periodic performance grading during matches shows whether or not players are developing, how consistent their performance is from game to game, and from season to season, and it allows to rank players within the team, and among other players in their competitive level. Furthermore, the grading of the main elements of the game can narrow down more in detail where the need for improvement is more prominent. Players and teams benefit from objective performance grading. In previous articles I presented the Soccer-Grade Performance Average (Soccer-GPA) as a method to grade match performance. In those articles I showed the average grades of all the attacking technical actions of the players and teams participating in the last two UEFA Champions League Finals (Rico-Sanz, 2022a, 2022b). In this article I am presenting important results showing the average team GPAs of individual techniques. I am also introducing results showing the grades on the actions that are more relevant during the match, what I call the impactful actions. Although the soccer match consists of many actions that are relevant for the game, as it is to keep possession of the ball, the impactful actions represent a category of technical actions that have the player under pressure from opponents and result on breaking of lines of defenders in dribbles, passes, and scoring attempts. Thus, the category and success of the impactful actions are more likely to show that the best talented players will obtain better impactful GPAs during the match. In this study, we will see how the champion teams in the 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Finals had better team impactful GPA than the losing teams. Because the level of the players and teams reaching the UEFA Champions League Finals is so high, the impactful GPA differences among these teams is expected to be very small.


Methods

All attacking technical actions were analyzed and graded according to the standard set of criteria for ball controls, dribbles, passes+headers, and scoring attempts (Rico-Sanz, 2022a,2022 b). Impactful GPAs refers to the grade performance average of players and teams during impactful technical actions; that is, when all the simple and irrelevant actions are removed from the analysis. Thus, for the purpose of this study, the most impactful technical actions were separated and evaluated. Examples of irrelevant technical actions are passes back to defenders or goalkeepers, or dribbles and ball controls under no pressure. Thus, only those actions in which the player was under pressure from opponents such as in ball controls and dribbles, or in those actions that are directed towards the opponent's goal, such as during pressured dribbles, penetrating passes, and scoring attempts were entered into the analysis.


Results

The total number of each main attacking action (ball control, dribbling, passing+heading, scoring attempts) for each of the teams participating in the 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Finals is shown below. In 2020, Bayern Munich dominated the possession of the ball while in 2021 it was Manchester City. However, the two teams that won the Champions League had higher number of scoring attempts than the losing teams. In 2020, Bayern had 12 while PSG had only 10. In 2021, Chelsea had 9 scoring attempts while Manchester City had 8. Both games were decided by only one goal. The importance of scoring attempts when two top teams compete against each other seems to be a deciding factor at least in the last two Champions League Finals.

Figure 1. Number of attacking actions for Manchester City and Chelsea during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final and Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain during the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final.


The average team Soccer-GPA for the main attacking skills for the four teams participating in the last two UEFA Champions League Finals are shown in Figure 2. In the 2020 Final, PSG had a higher GPA for all attacking actions than Bayern with the exception of scoring attempts. On the other hand, all of the Chelsea's attacking skills GPAs were higher than those of Manchester City. Very importantly the graph shows that both champion teams had higher GPA on the scoring attempts than the losing teams; Bayern had a scoring attempt GPA of 1.00 vs 0.60 for PSG. Chelsea's scoring attempt GPA was 0.83 vs 0.50 for Manchester City. Thus, not only Bayern and Chelsea had more scoring attempts, but the quality of the attempts gave them a higher GPA compared to PSG and Manchester City, in the 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Finals, respectively.

Figure 2. Attacking Technical Soccer-GPA for Manchester City and Chelsea during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final and Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain during the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final.


During the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final, the total number of attacking technical actions for Bayern and PSG were 974 and 534, respectively. Of the total number of actions, the number of impactful actions were 410 for Bayern Munich with a percentage of success of 72%; the number of impactful actions for PSG was 333 with a success rate of 70%. The GPA of the impactful actions was 1.83 for Bayern and 1.76 for PSG.

During the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final, the total number of attacking technical actions for Chelsea and Manchester City were 716 and 1126, respectively. Of the total number of actions, the total number of impactful actions were 351 for Chelsea with a percentage of success of 77%; the number of impactful actions for Manchester City was 396 with a success rate of 76%. The GPA of the impactful actions was 1.98 for Chelsea and 1.87 for Manchester City.

Figure 3. Impactful Attacking Technical Soccer-GPA by playing positions for Manchester City and Chelsea during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final and Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain during the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final.


Conclusion

In the present article, I show important impactful GPA statistics of the 2020 and 2021 UEFA Champions League Finals. Not only the scoring attempts were higher for the winning teams on both years, also the GPA of the scoring attempts was higher. Importantly also, I demonstrated that the team GPA for all the impactful attacking actions during the match was higher for the wining teams; namely Bayern Munich in 2020 and Chelsea in 2021. These results indicate that the match performance analysis with the Soccer-GPA can differentiate the performance of players and the teams and the Soccer-GPA produces key statistics that are relevant for success in soccer at the top level.


References

Rico-Sanz J. The Soccer-GPA: objective and comprehensive grading of the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final. https://www.soccerpsi.com/post/the-soccer-gpa-comprehensive-and-objective-grading-of-technical-and-tactical-match-performance. 2022.

Rico-Sanz J. Technical Soccer-GPA of attacking actions during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final. https://www.soccerpsi.com/post/technical-soccer-gpa-of-attacking-actions-during-the-2021-uefa-champions-league-final. 2022.


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