The present study aimed to analyze the interaction and main effects of deliberate practice experience and smallsided game format (3 vs. 3 and 6 vs. 6 plus goalkeepers) on the offensive performance of young soccer players. Twentyeight U-15 male players were divided into 2 groups according to their deliberate practice experience in soccer (i.e., years of experience in federation soccer): Non-Experienced (age: 12.84 ± 0.63 years) and Experienced (age: 12.91 ± 0.59 years; experience: 3.93 ± 1.00 years). The experimental protocol consisted of 3 independent sessions separated by one-week intervals. In each session both groups performed each small-sided game during 10 minutes interspersed with 5 minutes of passive recovery. To characterize the recorded offensive sequences we used the Offensive Sequences Characterization System, which includes performance indicators previous applied in other studies. No interaction effects on the offensive performance were found between both factors. Non-parametric MANOVA revealed that the factor “experience level” had a significant effect (p<0.05) on performance indicators that characterize the development of offensive sequences, especially in 6 vs. 6 + GKs. While experienced players produced longer offensive sequences with greater ball circulation between them, the non-experienced participants performed faster offensive sequences with a predominance of individual actions. Furthermore, significant differences were observed (p<0.05) in the development and finalization of offensive sequences within each group, when comparing small-sided game formats. Evidence supports that small-sided games can serve several purposes as specific means of training. However, the manipulation of game format should always consider the players’ individual constraints.
The present study aimed to examine the independent and interactive effects of match location, match status, and quality of opposition on regaining possession, analysed by the type and zone of ball recovery, in matches played in the 2011-2012 UEFA Champions League. Twenty-eight matches of the knockout phase were evaluated post-event using a computerized notational analysis system. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was applied to identify the effects of the previously mentioned situational variables on ball recovery type and zone. Match status and quality of opposition main effects were observed for both dependent variables, while main effects of match location were only evident for ball recovery zone. Additionally, the interactions Match location * Quality of opposition and Match status * Quality of opposition were significant for both type and zone of ball recovery. Better teams employed more proactive defensive strategies, since, even when winning, they tried to sustain their defensive success on actions that aimed to gain the ball from the opponents. Results emphasized the tendency for home and losing teams to defend in more advanced pitch zones. Better-ranked teams were also more effective than worse-ranked teams in applying defensive pressure in more advanced pitch positions. The findings of the study suggest that the defensive strategies used by better teams imply more intense and organized collective processes in order to recover the ball directly from the opposing team. Furthermore, defending away from own goal and near the opponent's one seems to be associated with success in elite soccer.
The aim of this study was to examine the sequences of the first two goals scored in soccer matches in accordance with a range of different match contexts. Data from 1506 matches played in the Portuguese Premier League during six consecutive competitive seasons (2009-10 to 2014-2015) were analysed using descriptive statistics and the chi-square test in order to verify the association between variables and a Cox regression analysis was used to predict the time the second goal was scored in function of the time of the first goal scored in the match and the scoreline. The results revealed a higher frequency of the second goals being scored in the second half of a match (58%) and in the last 5 min periods of each half. A positive association was found for home teams and score-doubling goals (58%), as well as for away teams and score-equalizing goals (56%). For home and away teams the score-doubling goal of a match was strongly and positively associated with a win outcome for home (93%) and away teams (92%), while the score-equalizing goals were associated with a draw (home and away teams: 44%) and loss outcome (home: 33% and away teams: 32%). Finally, the Cox model showed that if the first goal was scored in the second half of the match, the probability of the second goal being scored was three times higher compared to the first half.