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Technical Soccer-GPA of attacking actions during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Jesús Rico-Sanz, PhD

Soccer Performance & Science Institute

 

Introduction

The Soccer-Grade Performance Average (Soccer-GPA) is an objective and comprehensive method that I created to grade technical and tactical match performance of soccer players during match play. For over thirty years I have been an advocate for objective grading of players' technical and tactical match performance (Rico-Sanz, 1992; Rico-Sanz,1993; Rico-Sanz,1994). During the last decade, I have worked on a more exhaustive technical and tactical performance analysis; thus, the technical and tactical GPA for attacking and defending actions has been developed for youth, college, and professional soccer (https://www.soccerpsi.com/soccer-performance-analysis). The Soccer-GPA is essential for player development and player ratings. In a previous article I presented the attacking technical Soccer-GPA of the players of Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain during the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final. In this article I am presenting the attacking technical Soccer-GPA for the players of Chelsea and Manchester City participating in the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final.


Methods

The methodology utilized was the same as presented in the previous article on the 2020 UCL Final. Briefly, the Soccer-GPA panel was used inside the Dartfish LiveS platform and the data later extracted to quantify the Soccer-GPA for all technical actions for each player in each team. The attacking technical actions were categorized into ball controls, dribbles, passes, headers, and scoring attempts. All actions were graded according to the well established Soccer-GPA objective criteria (<2% error). Due to the large number of data gathered, only the attacking technical GPA will be presented here for each of the players of Chelsea and Manchester City.


Results


A total of 1126 attacking play actions were recorded for Manchester City and 716 for Chelsea during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final. The total number of ball controls, dribbles, passes and headers, and scoring attempts are shown in Figure 1. Ball controls included aerial and ground ball controls. Dribbles included shielding, beating an opponent, and dribbling to open spaces.


Manchester City had 529 passes and 13 headers while Chelsea had 335 passes and 16 headers. Chelsea had one more scoring attempt than Manchester City. The game was decided by a goal from Havertz near the end of the first half. Chelsea won the game 1-0. As in the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final, the winning team had one more scoring attempt than the losing team. In this case, Chelsea had 9 scoring attempts, while Manchester City had 8 scoring attempts.


Figure 1. Total number of attacking technical actions with the ball for Chelsea and Manchester City during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final.


For Chelsea, the Spanish International central defender Azpilicueta was the player with most touches with 90. For Manchester City, it was the English International Stones, also central defender, the player with most touches with 198 (see Figure 2). For Manchester City, all defenders and the central midfielder, German International, Gündoğan had more than 120 touches on the ball, while other than Azpilicueta the rest of the central defenders and midfielders for Chelsea had less than 70 touches, giving an indication of the distinct style of play between Manchester City and Chelsea.

Figure 2. Total number of attacking technical actions with the ball for each of the players of Chelsea and Manchester City during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final.


Each attacking technical action was graded accordingly following a set of established criteria as per the Soccer-GPA coding system. The individual Soccer-GPA for the attacking technical actions for each of the players of Chelsea (royal blue) and Manchester City (light blue) during the 2021 Champions League Final are shown in Figure 3. For both teams, goalkeepers are in yellow and reserve players are in purple. All wingbacks and midfielders for Chelsea had a technical GPA for attacking actions higher than 1.57 while the highest GPA value for a Manchester City player in the midfield was 1.43 (Gündoğan). Similarly, all starting attacking players for Chelsea had a technical GPA above 1.55 while the highest attacking GPA for any Manchester City attacker was 1.49, recorded for the Algerian International Riyad Mahrez. The Brazilian International Gabriel de Jesus had an attacking GPA of 1.71 after he came in the second half for the injured Kevin de Bruyne. On the Chelsea side, the Croatian International Mateo Kovačić had a technical GPA of 2.25 in attacking actions after substituting the English International Mason Mount.

Figure 3. Technical GPA for attacking actions for each of the players of Chelsea and Manchester City during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final.



Conclusion

In another report using the Soccer-GPA to grade technical actions in an elite soccer competition such as the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final, I illustrate differences in GPAs for individual players, positional groups, and teams.


References

Rico-Sanz J. A model for technical and tactical analysis in soccer. Communication to the 1st World Congress in Notational Analysis in Sport. Liverpool, 1992.

Rico-Sanz, J. Technical and Tactical analysis of the Danish National Team during the European Cup 1992. Proceedings of the First World Congress of Notational Analysis of Sports, Liverpool, 1993.

Rico-Sanz J. Match Analysis. Science & Football. 1994 July; (8): 4-7.

Rico-Sanz J. The Soccer-GPA: objective and comprehensive grading of the 2020 UEFA Champions League Final. https://www.soccerpsi.com/blog, 2022.

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