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A network theory analysis of football strategies

Peña, JL; Touchette, H; A network theory analysis of football strategies. In C. Clanet (ed.), Sports Physics: Proc. 2012 Euromech Physics of Sports Conference, p. 517-528, \'Editions de l'\'Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, 2013. (ISBN 978-2-7302-1615-9)

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We showcase in this paper the use of some tools from network theory to describe the strategy of football teams. Using passing data made available by FIFA during the 2010 World Cup, we construct for each team a weighted and directed network in which nodes correspond to players and arrows to passes. The resulting network or graph provides a direct visual inspection of a team's strategy, from which we can identify play pattern, determine hot-spots on the play and localize potential weaknesses. Using different centrality measures, we can also determine the relative importance of each player in the game, the `popularity' of a player, and the effect of removing players from the game.

Type: Article
Title: A network theory analysis of football strategies
Additional information: 6 pages, 1 figure, 5 tables
Keywords: math.CO, math.CO, math.ST, physics.soc-ph, stat.TH, 68R10, 90C35, 90C90
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1353350
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