A football match might seem impossible to model, but with the right data and a powerful analytics platform, teams are beginning to develop algorithms for success.
When Liverpool FC’s Philippe Coutinho scored a free kick against Brighton in December 2017 by firing his shot underneath the jumping defensive wall, Jurgen Klopp credited his analysts for pointing out the opportunity.
Data was also instrumental when Hearts ended Celtic’s 69 game unbeaten run last year. Hearts Manager Craig Levein revealed that Anderlecht’s 1-0 victory over Celtic in the Champions League had pointed the way.
“The analysis of the Anderlecht game,” revealed the BBC, “showed that the Belgians played a pressing 4-3-3 and that the three midfielders and three attacking players covered an average of 11.8km per man when hustling and harrying Celtic out of possession.”
Thanks to their own club analytics, Levein and his coaching staff knew that they had players who could cover that sort of distance. So the strategy was to “hit the 11.8km average, frustrate Celtic, press them high up the pitch, cut out the passing route to their most dangerous players, refuse to let them settle and force some errors.”
Hearts ran out 4-0 winners.