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Diogo Peixoto, Gibson Moreira Praça, Sarah Bredt and Filipe Manuel Clemente

Abstract

Purpose. The study aimed to compare social network analysis (SNA) general measures and centrality levels of successful and unsuccessful offensive sequences performed by elite national teams in 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup 2014 tournament and to compare the level of centrality between playing positions. Methods. Adjacency matrices of passing sequences within an offensive unit were built and treated in a dedicated SNA software. Results. The main results indicated significantly lower values of total links and network density in successful sequences in comparison with unsuccessful ones in the teams that achieved the round of 8, semifinals, and the final. The comparisons between playing positions revealed that forwards showed the highest values of indegree centrality (balls received) and that midfielders presented the highest values of outdegree centrality (ball passed) in both successful and unsuccessful offensive units. Midfielders also exhibited the highest values of betweenness centrality (intermediation between teammates) in unsuccessful sequences and forwards in successful ones. Conclusions. Greater cooperation among teammates may not be determinant for successful sequences. Forwards are the prominent players to receive the ball and intermediate the passing sequence in offenses that end in a goal.

Open access

Gibson Moreira Praça, Juan Carlos Pérez Morales, Sarah Da Glória Teles Bredt, Raphael Brito E Sousa, André Gustavo Pereira De Andrade and Pablo Juan Greco

Abstract

Purpose. Players’ tactical skills are crucial for a successful, high-standard career in soccer. Although recent studies propose and apply the analysis of young players’ tactical skills through the understanding of their knowledge about tactical principles, no research has compared the development of these specific tactical skills throughout a soccer specific season in different youth academies. This article aimed to compare the development of tactical skills in U-14 and U-15 soccer players throughout a season. Methods. The tactical skills of 30 athletes (16 U-15 and 14 U-14) of a sports club were evaluated during 10 months with the System of Tactical Assessment in Soccer (FUT-SAT). The incidence of tactical principles and the percentage of successful principles in offense and defence were compared with the use of a two-way ANOVA (category × time). Results. Reduction was observed in the incidence of actions of offensive unity in the U-15 athletes throughout the season and a higher incidence of offensive coverage compared with U-14. Moreover, U-15 athletes increased their percentage of successful actions, both offensive and defensive, and presented a higher performance than U-14 players. Conclusions. Tactical performance of U-15 soccer athletes increases over a sports season, which is not observed in the U-14 category, although players from both groups presented changes in the incidence of offensive and defensive tactical principles. This supports the non-linearity of tactical skills acquisition and development in soccer, as well as justifies the need of constant assessment during the training process across the ages.