ATTACKING PHASES DURING THE 2010
FOOTBALL WORLD CUP
INTRODUCTION METHODS CONCLUSION
Notational analysis was conducted on 5 games of the men’s 2010
Studies have found that successful football teams play with D C B A The results of this study were somewhat similar to that of other
FIFA World Cup. The primary variables consisted:
much faster movement compared to unsuccessful teams (4). studies that stated a majority of goals are scored within 15
• Duration of attacking phase
Research shows that fast attacking phases lead to more scoring seconds of re-possession (2). These findings do not necessarily
• Outcome of the phase (turnover, shot off-target, shot on-target,
opportunities (4). The counterattack is a useful tactic to use give support to the usefulness of the counter-attack tactic in
goal, free-kick for offensive, free-kick against offense)
when trying to penetrate the opposition’s defence. In order for breaking down the opposition defence. International teams
• Field location of beginning of phase (Figure 1)
a counterattack to be effective it must be done at speed, thus may find more success from taking a more cautious and
• Speed of attacking phase (seconds per zone covered)
giving the opposition less time to mount an adequate defence planned offensive approach. Such an approach would look to
• Team ranking (1st to 5th)
(1). This is sometimes called the ‘8-second rule’, which means find and capitalise on weaknesses in the defence.
the attacking team should aim to create a scoring opportunity
A chi-squared test was used to compare the duration of the phase
within 8 seconds of gaining possession (5). The ‘8-second rule’ The results of this study supported some of the research on the
and the location the phase started to its outcome. An ANOVA was
has been supported by research, which found that top optimum area to win possession in order to score more
used to compare the speed of the phase to team rank. The intra- Direction of Attack
international teams scored majority of their goals after a build- frequently, however, the research is quite contradictory (2,3).
coder reliability was found to be very strong and positive, τ = .98,
up of between 6 and 15 seconds (2).
p < .001, two-tailed, N = 100.
Figure 1: Classification of field zones By focusing on the results of the present study, it would appear
that employing a pressing defensive strategy, would be
Another important consideration when analysing offensive beneficial to a teams attacking potential. Furthermore,
phases of a team is the location in which the phase began.
RESULTS encouraging players in advanced positions to close down when
Some studies have shown that winning possession in the final defending, may illicit an increase in possession won in these
attacking third of the pitch is heavily linked to success and 4 attacking zones, and greater probability of goal scoring
% Goals per Total
Analysis showed no significant relationship between duration of
more effective scoring opportunities (3), however other phase and outcome (χ2 (25, N = 1056) = 32.42, p = .146). 3 success.
research points to the middle third as the most successful to Analysis trended towards more goals being scored with
win the ball (2). One study found that 64% of goals started in durations of between 11 to 15 (SR = 1.6) and 21 to 25 seconds 2 The present study shows contradictory evidence to other
the defensive half of the field, but more shots were recorded (SR = 1.6, Figure 2). research when considering the speed of play and success (4).
from phases beginning in the middle third of the field (2). One possible reason as to why slower attacking phase
4 0 movement could be beneficial, as seen in this study, could be
% Goals per Total Phases
The aim of this study was to identify the key characteristics of Def. Mid-Def. Mid-Att. Att. that the team is able to organise a more comprehensive attack.
an optimal attacking phase in international football. The Start Zone Taking time to organise and plan an offensive approach may
objectives of the study were to compare: help to target weaknesses in the opposition’s defence.
• The duration of an attacking phase to the outcome of the Figure 3: Percentage of goals scored per total number
phase 2 of phases for each starting zone
• The location that possession was won to the outcome of the
phase 1 Analysis showed a significant relationship between team rank
• The speed of attacking phases to team ranking. and speed of phase movement (F (4, 1051) = 6.52, p < .001, η2
= .024_. Team ranked 1st (M = 6.94, SD = 7.45) had
significantly lower speeds than teams ranked 2nd (M = 5.30, SD
0-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-25 >25 = 4.74), 4th (M = 4.29, SD = 3.04), and 5th (M = 5.04, SD =
Phase Duration (seconds) 4.22). However, there was no significant difference between the
speeds of the teams ranked 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th (Figure 4).
Figure 2: Percentage of goals scored per total number of
phases for each duration group
(seconds per zone
Analysis showed a significant relationship between field 8
zone the phase started in and outcome (χ2 (15, N = 1056) =
68.93, p < .001). Analysis showed a trend here that less goals REFERENCES
were scored when the phase began in the mid-defensive zone 4
(SR = -1.6, Figure 3). Analysis showed that more goals were 2 1. Bangsbo, J et al. Offensive Soccer Tactics, 2004.
scored when starting in the attacking zone (SR = 2.1).
0 2. Carling, C et al. Handbook of Soccer Match Analysis, 2005.
3. Garganta, J et al. In Science & Football III, 1995. pp. 246-
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
4. Harris, S et al. In Science & Football I, 1987. pp. 322-328.
Figure 4: Average speed of phases for each team rank 5. Vermeulen, H. Zone Soccer, 2003.