Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Association between playing tactics and creating scoring opportunities in elite football: A case study in Spanish Football National Team

Joaquín Gonzalez-Rodenas, Ignacio Lopez-Bondia, Ferran Calabuig, Nic James, Rafael Aranda



The aim of this study was to examine the association between playing tactics, situational variables and creating scoring opportunities according to the type of start-up possession in a case-study. All team possessions (n=857) developed by the Spanish Football national team during the World Cup 2010 were analysed and grouped into “strategic set-plays” (n=90), “recoveries” (n=451) and “restarts” (n=316). Fourteen categorical variables which describe offensive playing tactics, opponent situation as well as situational variables and their associations with creating scoring opportunities were examined using chi-square analysis and bivariate logistic regressions. Chi-square analysis showed that “strategic set-plays” were more effective to produce scoring opportunities (29.2%) than recoveries (15.4%) and restarts (8.9%) (P<0.001). Within the strategic set-plays, no differences were found between corners kicks and free kicks to produce scoring opportunities. In recoveries, the variables “field starting zone” (P=0.001), “initial penetration” (P<0.001), “initial opponent number” (P=0.004), “initial opponent position” (P=0.014), “initial penetration zone” (P<0.001), and “type of progression” (P=0.049), and for restarts “pass number” (P=0.049) and “duration” (P=0.006) were associated with the likelihood of creating scoring opportunities. More scoring opportunities were created in the second half (P=0.022).  The type of start-up possession and the match half may modify the playing tactics developed during the offensive process and influence the creation of scoring opportunities in Football.


Soccer; Match analysis; Performance indicators; Offensive play; Effectiveness


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