Beyond the Stats: Using Sports­code to Ana­lyze Play­er Per­for­mance Part II

We put our play­er rat­ings sys­tem to the test again. This time, we ana­lyzed Andres Ini­es­ta and Daniele De Rossi’s impact on Spain v. Italy in the knock­out round of the Euro­pean Championships.

Beyond the Stats: Using Sports­code to Ana­lyze Play­er Per­for­mance Part II

We put our play­er rat­ings sys­tem to the test again. This time, we ana­lyzed Andres Ini­es­ta and Daniele De Rossi’s impact on Spain v. Italy in the knock­out round of the Euro­pean Championships.

Spain and Italy, two giants in Euro­pean foot­ball, squared off in the round of 16 of the UEFA Euro 2016 Cham­pi­onships on Mon­day, and we put our play­er rat­ings sys­tem to the test again.

Unlike our last piece, we aimed to break down the impact of play­ers from both teams in this test to see how well our for­mu­la aligned with the out­come of the match. We picked Andres Ini­es­ta of Spain and Daniele De Rossi of Italy for the sim­i­lar­i­ties in their style of play and their antic­i­pat­ed impact on the match based on the way the two teams line up. 

Here’s what our rat­ings helped us uncov­er about the match’s end result, a 2 – 0 vic­to­ry for the Azzurri.

The First Half

It was a tale of tac­tics as Italy shaped up against Spain’s infa­mous 4 – 3-3 with a 3 – 5-2 of their own. Andres Ini­es­ta played as the num­ber six in the Spain set up, and was tabbed by many as the cre­ative hub for Spain going forward. 

Italy would see to it that they couldn’t cre­ate any mean­ing­ful opportunities.

With De Rossi anchor­ing, the Ital­ians con­trolled the mid­field, essen­tial­ly elim­i­nat­ing Ini­es­ta and his cohorts from cre­at­ing any real threat on goal. Much of Spain’s play is dic­tat­ed by con­trol­ling the mid­field, and Ini­es­ta is respon­si­ble for most of the link up play from the back. He strug­gled for much of the first half to break down the Ital­ian mid­field and defense with his pass­ing, often pass­ing the ball from side to side in hopes that the Italian’s would fold — they didn’t.

Italy pressed Spain as a cohe­sive unit, and broke inci­sive­ly on the counter, exploit­ing the space between Ser­gio Bus­quets and the Span­ish back line to open up the play. Watch this series of play that led to the first goal.

The play that led to the foul pri­or is the key. The Azzur­ri move the ball up the field with such flu­id­i­ty, and Spain allowed them all the time and space to do so. The ini­tial ball in from De Rossi to Graziano Pelle is weight­ed per­fect­ly, and Ger­ard Piqué can’t do any­thing but foul Pelle. The result? 1 – 0 to Italy.

The Sec­ond Half

The intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond half saw De Rossi subbed off for Thi­a­go Mot­ta in the 53’. Despite the ear­ly sub­sti­tu­tion, De Rossi earned a match rat­ing of 8.3 with our for­mu­la. His inci­sive pass to set up the free kick that led to the first goal was a fac­tor, but his impact on the orga­ni­za­tion of the mid­field was the real key. His involve­ment in the game direct­ly con­tributed to sev­en chances for the Azzurri. 

As the sec­ond half wore on, the Span­ish mid­field began to get a foothold in the match. Cred­it Vin­cente del Bosque for the sub­sti­tu­tion of Lucas Vasquez, who inject­ed some life into the side going for­ward. Ini­es­ta saw more and more chances cre­at­ed as the game moved clos­er and clos­er to the end, even lash­ing a shot that forced Gian­lui­gi Buf­fon into a save.

Ulti­mate­ly, it was not enough for Spain, despite Iniesta’s best efforts. Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing, Ini­es­ta had a game very much on par with his pre­vi­ous per­for­mances. The real key was chances cre­at­ed, in which he had far few­er than De Rossi, despite play­ing a full 90 min­utes. His pass­ing just couldn’t open up the Azzur­ri defense. And ulti­mate­ly, the lack of chances was what lost Spain the match.

Over the course of our two tests using Sports­code, we noticed the impor­tance of chances cre­at­ed. If the pass­es a play­er makes are result­ing direct­ly in chances for the oth­er team, there is a high­er val­ue in those plays than if your pass­ing is sim­ply keep­ing the play mov­ing. Although Iniesta’s pass­ing kept the play mov­ing, his pass­ing didn’t result in chances for his team, which con­tributed to the 2 – 0 scoreline. 

The impor­tant thing to remem­ber is that analy­sis is all sub­jec­tive, and the data you choose to ana­lyze can impact that. Mov­ing for­ward, we will attempt to ana­lyze dif­fer­ent posi­tions and the impact they have on the out­come of the match based on the analy­sis we can do in Sportscode. 

If you’re inter­est­ed in giv­ing Sports­code a try, check out this page for more details on the product.