Passing Grade – Stats of the Premier League

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Tiki-Taka. The recent success of the Spanish national team and that of Barcelona has brought the term into mainstream usage, where it refers to a style of play based around short passes and possession. The idea behind the style is to stretch the opposition and force them to change their shape, thus creating space, through which the goal can be attacked. Here is a clip from the Barcelona – Liverpool game in ’01 that demonstrates this. At the beginning of the clip the Liverpool defence is positioned just outside their penalty area. By the end, they have moved, with the play, to the half-way line, leaving a direct line of attack open.

While the debate continues on what the “best” style of football is, one criticism of tiki-taka has been that many of the passes or periods of possession are “useless” or “ineffective” (and perhaps boring – indicated by the “boos” for Spain in Euro 2012). However, regardless of the style a team plays, is there a direct correlation between the number and direction of passes a team attempts (and completes)? Is there something a successful team does specifically related to passes that an unsuccessful team does not? Blogger John DeWitt tries to establish a pattern using the #MCFCAnalytics data set. You can read his post here. Additionally, this piece by Ravi Ramineni illustrates the relationship between goals and passes in the final third, and ponders about the anomaly that is Liverpool (and their addiction to crosses).

And finally, an interview with Brendan Rodgers on Liverpool’s official site about his take on tiki-taka.

What do you think? Is patient passing the way forward? Or a direct approach using fast, powerful forwards? Perhaps you’re an advocate of Catenaccio. Tell us what you think. Leave us your comments on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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