From Farense to Manchester City: CIES Football Observatory quantify directness in attack

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From Farense to Manchester City: CIES Football Observatory quantify directness in attack

According to the CIES report, Manchester City have the least direct style of attacking play among the teams analyzed
According to the CIES report, Manchester City have the least direct style of attacking play among the teams analyzedReuters
One thing that crops up a lot in football tactics discussions is the issue of directness. Specifically, which clubs are more or less direct in their attacking play? The CIES Football Observatory have cleverly attempted to quantify this conversation.

The basic idea is this - how can you objectively determine which teams play with a more 'direct' or 'verticle' style in attack without relying simply on the eye test?

The CIES Football Observatory presented a solution in one of their recent weekly reports by combining data from Wyscout and SkillCorner to create an index of directness.

The index ranks teams from 27 leagues worldwide from those with the most direct attacking style to those with the least, the most elaborated offensive play.

Three variables were taken into account for calculating the index - the frequency of sprints per player (at least 0.7 seconds at over 25 km/h) during possession; the proportion of so-called ‘call-for-the-ball’ runs into space; and the number of kilometres covered by the ball in possession resulting from the number and average length of successful passes.

The direct play index was then calculated by multiplying the frequency of sprints per player by the proportion of ‘call-for-the-ball’ runs and then dividing that value by the number of kilometres covered by the ball in possession.

This formula produces a numerical value for each club analysed, with the higher values representing the more direct styles of play. The values were scaled to fall between 0 and 100, with 100 being the most direct side.

A the top of the tree in terms of directness overall were Portugal’s Farense with a value of 100. Of the 'big five' European leagues, Luton Town (87) were at the summit and Banfield (83) led the way for non-European teams.

Newcastle United (56) recorded the highest score among UEFA Champions League participants.

At the other end of the standings, the lowest values, reflecting the most indirect attacking styles, were measured by two teams coached by famous Spaniards - Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (21) and Luis Enrique’s Paris St-Germain (23). Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal (27) were fourth after Ukrainian side Oleksandriya. Rounding out the bottom five was Polish club Lech Poznan.

Also of interest in the report are the extreme values for the specific variables of the index.

Regarding sprints during possession phases, Farense had the highest score and Freiburg the lowest. As for ‘call-for-the-ball’ runs into space, Cercle Brugge had the most and Premier League club Burnley the least.

Paris St-Germain led the world in terms of kilometres ‘covered’ by the ball in possession with Czech side Teplice at the other end of that spectrum.

You can view the entire post as well as an interactive table displaying the direct play index here.

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), an independent study centre located in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The CIES Football Observatory specialises in the statistical analysis of football.

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