Biology of Sport
eISSN: 2083-1862
ISSN: 0860-021X
Biology of Sport
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vol. 41
Original paper

Match running performance is influenced by possession and team formation in an English Premier League team

Ryland Morgans
John Radnor
Jose Fonseca
Chris Haslam
Matthew King
Dave Rhodes
Piotr Żmijewski
5, 6
Rafael Oliveira
7, 8, 9

  1. School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK
  2. Faculty of Human Kinetics, Lisbon University, Lisbon, Portugal
  3. Brentford FC Football Research Centre, Brentford FC, London, UK
  4. Football Performance Hub, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom
  5. Jozef Pilsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw, 00-809 Warsaw, Poland
  6. Research and Development Center Legia Lab, Legia Warszawa, Poland
  7. Research Centre in Sports Sciences, Health and Human Development, 5001–801 Vila Real, Portugal
  8. Sports Science School of Rio Maior – Instituto Politecnico de Santarem, 2040–413 Rio Maior, Santarém District, Santarém, Portuga
  9. Life Quality Research Centre, 2040–413 Rio Maior, Portugal
Biol Sport. 2024;41(3):275–286
Online publish date: 2024/02/12
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The aim of this study was to examine the possession (very low, low, high, and very high), team formation (3-5-2 and 4-3-3) and position (centre-backs, full-backs, centre midfielders, attacking midfielders, and centre forwards) on match load across two consecutive seasons in elite soccer. Twenty-seven English Premier League outfield players were recruited. Data was monitored through an 18 Hz Global Positioning System and a 25 Hz semi-automated camera tracking system, respectively, and all variables were analysed per minute. Main effects for formation on total distance (TD) (p = 0.006; η2 = 0.010), high-speed running (HSR) (p = 0.009; η2 = 0.009), number of high metabolic load (HML) efforts (p = 0.004; η2 = 0.011) were observed. In addition, there were significant interaction effects with formation×possession on TD (p < 0.001; η2 = 0.043), HSR (p = 0.006; η2 = 0.018), sprinting (p < 0.001; η2 = 0.030), HML efforts (p < 0.001; η2 = 0.035), accelerations (p < 0.001; η2 = 0.025). From the position specific analysis, only the running performance of centre-backs was affected by formation or positional factors. These results indicate that formation and possession can have a significant impact on TD, HSR, and HML distance. Furthermore, players performed more high intensity efforts in 3-5-2 than 4-3-3 formation. These findings suggest that coaches can evaluate running performance in the context of formation and possession and tailor tactical strategies to optimise physical performance.

Match running performance, Possession, Team formation, Positional demands, Soccer

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