The well renowned football statistics…
For some, the numbers that appear at the half time of the match; for others the percentage of possession or the total quantity of passes. Well known terms only for soccer fans, that sometimes the rest of us don't even pay much attention to but…
Do fans really understand the reach that these data can have?
Before you think this article is going to get complicated, let us elaborate. We are going to answer (exemplify) this question with the help of the game state concept. At Kin we use this concept to measure different metrics/KPIs and analyze them depending on the 3 different possible states of the scoreboard (winning, losing, or tying).
For this example, we are using Xg -expected goals-, this metric measures the offensive danger created by a team or player by assigning an average scoring efficiency to each shot taken. For this metric many parameters can be considered, such as: zone in which the shot was taken and characteristics of the shot (header, penalty, etc.).
Based on his experience and research, Ramiro Rangles, the Head of Sports Analytics, tells us that the most common thing is for a team to generate a high Xg when they are losing, due to the mere need to turn the result around. However, is pretty standard that the best teams in all competitions manage to generate a high Xg when the game is tied.
If a team is generating expected goals at the time of a tie, when there is no condition on the scoreboard (when neither is winning nor losing), it is clear that the offensive strategy is more proactive and many times that makes the difference.
To exemplify this concept with actual values, we are using the data collected from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Croatia and France, finalists of the competition, registered an average Xg of 1.42 and 1.20 respectively. Not so high compared to the values registered by other renowned national teams such as Germany (2.37), Brazil (2.33), England (1.60), or even Belgium (1.55).
Despite the mentioned data, when reviewing this metric (Xg) specifically in the tying state of the games, both France the champion, and Croatia the runner-up, were the two best teams in the competition, significantly outperforming all the other mentioned national teams.
Clearly, the result of a single metric is not the complete answer as to why a team is able to win or not. It is the ability to contextualize metrics and to measure performance more precisely that allow to recognize strengths and weaknesses for better decision-making down the line.
I hope this entry gave you a little more clarity about the value of game state concept in football and why is so important for us to analyze its direct relation with team performance. But far more important than that, we hope that this text showcased the importance of contextualizing and going as deep as possible into the metrics. At Kin Analytics, we specialize in not only developing cutting edge metrics and analysis, but, furthermore, we give an end to end service that allow teams/federations to customize and align the analytics side of things with their specific gameplay philosophy and needs.
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