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CIES in the Media

Wed. 16 January 2019

New Monthly Report analyses the link between possession and success

The 41st CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report analyses the link between ball possession and results in 35 European leagues. While this link is undeniable, it is only from a certain level that ball control allows teams to improve significantly their results. This is probably the source of the erroneous but widespread idea that possession is not a key factor for success.

The 70 champions of the last two seasons in the 35 leagues analysed had an average possession of 57% during their winning season. Only 10% of champions won their league with a ball possession of less than 50%: Spartak Trnava, RC Strasbourg, Stade de Reims, AIK Solna, FC Midtjylland, Spal 2013 and CFR Cluj. None of the 70 champions completed fewer passes in the attacking third of the pitch than their opponents during the title winning season.

The analysis at match level for all the possession indicators taken into account shows that a team can sometimes accept an opponent’s domination, especially when they are winning. However, this is not a successful strategy in the longer term as it implies too many risks of conceding the first goal without being then able to put sufficient pressure on opponents. The data used were generated by the specialist sports company InStat. More information is available on demand.

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