Defensive performance indicators in a high-level Spanish football team

  • Rómulo Díaz-Díaz
  • Eduardo Ramos-Verde
  • Enrique Arriaza
  • Juan Manuel García-Manso
  • Teresa Valverde-EsteveEmail author
Main Article


Studies on football have gone from analysing technical and physiological aspects and assessing individual and collective behavioural elements to evaluating contextual variables that affect the development of the game. The objective of this study was to identify the strategic use of some technical variables to explain the defensive behaviour of the team or the players (as a group or individually) through the duels and recoveries that occur during the game. A team at the highest level of the first division of Spanish football (La Liga or Santander League) was studied throughout the 38 matches of the 2017/18 season. Principal component analysis was used to better identify the variables of the most important components that have the greatest influence on the two principal components. The results allow the defensive profile to be defined from a large number of official matches played by the same team. Variations in this game parameter depending on whether the match is played at home or away and the roles that are usually attributed to each player for each area of the field or each player’s technical characteristics are thus detected. Establishing performance profiles based on technical indicators using principal component analysis could be used to understand the individual and/or group performance of the team and thus manage the optimisation in competition of both the team itself and opponent teams.


Team sports Technical analysis Players’ roles Principal Components Competition 

Indikatoren der Defensivleistung einer spanischen Spitzenmannschaft im Fußball


Untersuchungen im Fußball verändern sich zunehmend von der Analyse rein technischer und physiologischer Aspekte hin zur Evaluation jener Verhaltensmuster der Individual- und Mannschaftstaktik, die die Spielentwicklung beeinflussen. Das Ziel der vorliegenden Studie bestand darin, den strategischen Einsatz ausgewählter technischer Elemente zu identifizieren, um das Defensivverhalten von Spielern (als Gruppe oder individuell) und Mannschaft während der Zweikämpfe und Balleroberungen im Spiel zu erklären. Eine Mannschaft auf höchstem Niveau der ersten spanischen Fußballliga (La Liga oder Liga Santander) wurde während aller 38 Spiele der Saison 2017/2018 analysiert. Eine Hauptkomponentenanalyse wurde angewendet, um die Variablen mit dem höchsten Einfluss auf die zwei wichtigsten Komponenten zu identifizieren. Die Ergebnisse ermöglichen die Beschreibung des Defensivprofils einer Mannschaft auf der Basis einer großen Anzahl offizieller Spiele. Gleichzeitig werden Variationen dieser Parameter in Abhängigkeit davon erfasst, ob es sich um ein Heim- oder Auswärtsspiel handelt, sowie abhängig von der üblichen Funktion jedes Spielers in jedem Spielfeldbereich und den technischen Eigenschaften jedes Spielers. Die Entwicklung von Leistungsprofilen in der vorgestellten Form (auf Basis technischer Indikatoren unter Anwendung einer Hauptkomponentenanalyse) ermöglicht ein besseres Verständnis der Individual- und Mannschaftsleistung und die Leistungssteuerung des eigenen Teams wie auch der gegnerischen Mannschaften.


Mannschaftssport Technische Analyse Spielpositionen Hauptkomponenten Wettkampf 


Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest

P. Manuel-Garrigós, R. Díaz-Díaz, R. Ramos-Verde, T. Valverde-Esteve and J.M. García-Manso declare that they have no competing interests.

For this article no studies with human participants or animals were performed by any of the authors. All studies performed were in accordance with the ethical standards indicated in each case.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rómulo Díaz-Díaz
    • 1
  • Eduardo Ramos-Verde
    • 1
  • Enrique Arriaza
    • 2
  • Juan Manuel García-Manso
    • 1
  • Teresa Valverde-Esteve
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Physical EducationUniversity of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas PalmasSpain
  2. 2.University of Playa AnchaPlaya AnchaChile
  3. 3.Department of Didactics of Music, Visual and Body ExpressionUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain

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