The origins of goals in the German Bundesliga

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We propose to analyse the origin of goals in professional football (soccer) in a purely data-driven approach. Based on positional and event data of 3,457 goals from two seasons German Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga (2018/20,219 and 2019/2020), we devise a rich set of 37 features that can be extracted automatically and propose a hierarchical clustering approach to identify group structures. The results consist of 50 interpretable clusters revealing insights into scoring patterns. The hierarchical clustering found 8 alone standing clusters (penalties, direct free kicks, kick and rush, one-two’s, assisted by header, assisted by throw-in) and nine categories (e.g., corners) combining more granular patterns (e.g., five subcategories of corner-goals). We provide a thorough discussion of the clustering and show its relevance for practical applications in opponent analysis, player scouting and for long-term investigations. All stages of this work have been supported by professional analysts from clubs and federation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)2525-2544
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 17.11.2021

Bibliographical note

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    Research areas

  • Sports analytics, Professional football (Soccer), Hierarchical Clustering, Tactical Analysis
  • Business informatics