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 Pique 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.