Soccer Rants / by kevin murray

Ball Possession:

One of the stats that they put on soccer telecasts is percentage of ball possession.  I find the stat to be kinda annoying and kinda interesting, but what really got me was questioning how a team like FC Barcelona can consistently have 70% ball possession or above.  Really?  So I did a little research and I found out a lot more about this term "ball possession" from OptaSports as follows:


"Opta now record possession in a football match by means of an automated calculation based on the number of passes that a team has in a game."… 
"During the game, the passes for each team are totalled up and then each team's total is divided by the game total to produce a percentage figure which shows the percentage of the game that each team has accrued in possession of the ball.


Aha, so that explains how Barcelona puts up these insane ball possession numbers.  Barcelona are the kings of short, precise and concise passing which is what Opta records ultimately as 'ball possession'.  Consequently, 'ball possession' is a misnomer.  How about some full disclosure?!  And why not just call it what it is, which is simply a stat of passes made by each team.


Corner Kicks:

Perhaps I am just ignorant but way too many corner kicks look helter-skelter to me and that just doesn't make any sense.  Here you have a real scoring opportunity in the opponents' end of the field and you would think that putting the ball in the back of their net would be a high priority.  If soccer was run like the NFL, there most definitely would be a playbook and that is just what soccer needs.  Perhaps these plays are well disguised and I'm just ignorant of that, but based on the low percentage of goals scored from corner kicks, that doesn't appear to be the case. 


Further to this point, it has been shown that a " ‘critical delivery area’ between the 6-yard box and the penalty spot has been identified" (Hughes and Petit, 2001; Taylor et al., 2005) so why not try to place the ball into that critical delivery area each and every time.



Throw-ins are fairly innocuous, until you are down by your oppositions' area of the field and then they can become something more.  I refer specifically to Rory Delap and his amazing throws into the penalty area from the sideline.  Obviously, something like this can only work under certain conditions:


1.      Must have a nice run-up on the pitch

2.      Must be close enough to the penalty box that the throw can be even attempted

3.      Must be able to make the throw


I really don't know how difficult it is, to develop the skillset that Rory Delap has.  Perhaps he is a freak of nature, perhaps not.  But having said this, it would behoove a coach to at least test his players for their long throw ability and if any of those players have that potential to develop it.