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This paper comes from the idea that the higher up on the pitch a team sets press, the higher up they will win the ball and hence create more goal scoring opportunities.

Through a quantitative analysis of goals scored at top international level, I wanted to look at the correlation between where the teams started their defensive press and from that press how goals were scored.

I divided the length of the pitch into Areas 1 to 4, whereas Area 1 is closest to the opponent’s goal, and 4 is closest to the defending team’s own goal.

My impression was that the defending team would score more goals off of a ball win when the press is sat high and won in Area 1 or 2.

This was not the case, as my data shows that the majority of goals scored, were after ball winnings low on the defending team’s own half in Area 4.

If the breakdown of my evaluation and these results are transferrable to soccer in general, there are some strong trends in top international football to argue that defending higher up the pitch leads to more goals.

Of 136 goals analyzed, only a few came as a result of high pressure resulting in ball winning in Area 1 or 2. 61 of the goals came from winning the ball all the way back in the defending teams own end, Area 4.

These results led me lo think that it was due to the team’s high-organized pressure that teams won ball possession through for example forced long balls and clearances.

Aftera new analysis of the 61 goals that were scored from winning the ball in Area 4, this theory was also proven wrong.

This forced me to do a new diagnosis on why the teams in possession in the opponent’s Area 4 were most vulnerable to being scored upon after losing possession.

By analyzing the 61 goals scored after ball wins in the team’s own lower half, I was able to see the trends and habits, leading up to losing possession and getting scored upon.

My data clearly shows that most attacking teams lost possessio when entering the “breakthrough phase” of their attack, the final phase where they try to penetrate the opponents defense line. Through dissecting each goal and what the team in possession did prior to losing possession,

the trends are that teams are most likely to be scored upon when entering this breakthrough phase on a dribble, especially in the central zone.


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