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19-Jun-2017 10:55

Atletico Madrid used few predictable passing patterns in the 2013/14 season – and won the league that year (Image: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty) Who really calls the shots in team sports? Information on the players involved, their pitch co-ordinates, the distance between them and the time taken for each pass was studied by a computer, which had analysed video footage of games.

It’s one of a raft of tools that are using artificial intelligence to give coaches and managers a deeper understanding of the game.

Sure enough, the algorithm revealed that Barcelona and Real Madrid had more than 100 recurring passing patterns, 151 and 180 respectively, and retained possession in their own half. Atletico Madrid, which won the league that season, had just 31 recurring patterns.

Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, says this lack of predictable play could be why Atletico Madrid had such a successful season.

The 2005 update to the offside law was also a contributing factor: by forcing defenders deeper, the law expanded the effective playing area, making players' size matter less and allowing technical skills to flourish.

Under Guardiola, Barcelona's tiki-taka shared Dutch Total Football's high defensive line, positional interchange and use of possession to control the game.

Under his guidance, tiki-taka reached new extremes.

This was partly due to Guardiola's visionary coaching, partly due to an exceptional generation of players, many of whom had been schooled in La Masia's idiosyncratic style, and partly due to Barcelona's ability to sustain intense pressure on the ball.

" the final tally was most often 1-0, proof, for Curley, that soccer was as low-scoring as he suspected.in Spanish) is a style of play in football characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession.The style is primarily associated with La Liga club Barcelona, especially during the era of manager Pep Guardiola.(He remembered the vague details, but not the specifics.) How often have his two favorite teams played each other over the last century? The answers to those questions were surprisingly difficult to find.But Curley used the same approach he uses in his academic career: data, lots and lots of data.

" the final tally was most often 1-0, proof, for Curley, that soccer was as low-scoring as he suspected.

in Spanish) is a style of play in football characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession.

The style is primarily associated with La Liga club Barcelona, especially during the era of manager Pep Guardiola.

(He remembered the vague details, but not the specifics.) How often have his two favorite teams played each other over the last century? The answers to those questions were surprisingly difficult to find.

But Curley used the same approach he uses in his academic career: data, lots and lots of data.

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