Innovations

How are top soccer clubs using big data datasets?

Liverpool’s recent achievements are awe-inspiring and surprising. What has improved the quality of players’ play significantly? Technology, and more specifically, big data. 

The last two tournaments played were great achievements for Liverpool. Since the beginning of 2019, we can actually talk about a definite improvement of the players from Anfield. The first victory in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, followed by a balanced (although ended in a 1:0 defeat) battle with Real Madrid for the Champions League title. How would technology lead the players to these successes?

Big data – what is it all about?

We need to start at the beginning and explain, what is big data anyway? Let’s try to explain it with an example: the GPS on your phone is currently used by the whole world. Most drivers use it not only to find their way from point X to point Y, but also to avoid traffic jams, road works, etc. 

All this information is downloaded continuously from millions of users, the administration, which reports on obstructions and so on. This pool of data goes into a database. The information gathered in this way is too numerous for a person to be able to make use of it on his own. Every now and then a new piece of information comes along that updates the current state of knowledge.  

This is why a big data analyst uses artificial intelligence to handle such a huge amount of data. He collects, segregates and extracts the information he needs from it. Referring to the GPS example: in this way, it is possible to observe that in a place where there is a busy intersection, every day between 2 and 4 pm there are steps that slow down the journey of drivers by an average of 15 minutes.

And this is the information we will see while traveling in the GPS. However, if one day there is little traffic, big data will collect data on the low volume of cars and also inform us about it. A useful tool, right?

Big data in soccer

The information collected in this way is used by the police, military, administration, marketing and PR companies, as well as sports clubs, among others. Recently, the well-known Intel company has made a particular name for itself in this market.

To simplify: the corporation collects data on football players, identifies their weaknesses and strengths. The analyst then processes all the available information and passes it on to the coach, who can use it during training. In this way, the skills of both the individual footballer and the entire team can be honed.

Then there is the aspect of transfers. The older generation still relies on personal observations of individual players and possibly the number of goals in the tables. Big data, however, proposes much more accurate measurements of players, which is why Brighton coach Graham Potter, among others, first discussed the whole matter with his analyst before buying players.

main photo: pixabay.com/phillipkofler

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