AI football manager knows how different teams play the game

AI football manager knows how different teams play the game

Atletico Madrid used few predictable passing patterns in the 2013/14 season – and won the league that year (Image: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty)

Who really calls the shots in team sports? The players? The coach? Maybe it could be a computer.

A detailed analysis of the passing strategies of 20 teams in the Spanish football league during the 2013-14 season has given a unique insight into how they play. It’s one of a raft of tools that are using artificial intelligence to give coaches and managers a deeper understanding of the game.

Information on the players involved, their pitch co-ordinates, the distance between them and the time taken for each pass was studied by a computer, which had analysed video footage of games. It pored over 300,000 individual passes made across the entire season and identified hundreds of patterns used by the teams. It also looked at whether they occurred in more than one game.

“We were curious if it was possible to distil some of the initial thoughts of the coach or the tactics of the team from the trajectory of the ball,” says Laszlo Gyarmati of the Qatar Computing Research Institute.

Sure enough, the algorithm revealed that Barcelona and Real Madrid had more than 100 recurring passing patterns, 151 and 180 respectively, and retained possession in their own half. But there were surprises, too. Atletico Madrid, which won the league that season, had just 31 recurring patterns.

Secret to success?

Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, says this lack of predictable play could be why Atletico Madrid had such a successful season.

Source: AI football manager knows how different teams play the game

Via: Google Alerts for AI