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For the victorious Spanish team, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was a memorable one for many reasons. It was the first time Spain had ever won the tournament, the first time a European nation had ever won a World Cup outside of Europe and they were the first team to win a World Cup after suffering a defeat in their opening game. In doing so they became only the third nation in the history of the game to hold the title of European and World Champions at the same time. Having analysed every game from the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup, Prozone can offer a unique insight into the style of play that had made the current Spanish team so formidable.

SPAIN – PASS MASTERS Analysis of Euro 2008 showed Spain as the ‘pass masters’ of the tournament and analysis of their performance at the 2010 World Cup shows they continue to dominate play with the same ‘tika-taka’ style of football, commonly associated with FC Barcelona under manager Pep Guardiola. This domination of passing and possession can be seen in the graphic below. The deep red circle that is seen in the centre circle of Spain’s graphic (and missing from the other semi-finalists) indicates that this domination is born out of consistent control of this key area of the pitch.

Heat Maps: Passing – SemiSemi-finalists

Heat Maps: Passing – Leading midfielders

When you compare Spain’s passing graphic, and that of other leading central midfielders with that of Spanish playmaker Xavi Hernandez, you get an idea of the important role he plays for the team and the part he plays in their continued dominance of the centre of the pitch.

CONSISTENCY The graph below shows that Spain consistently had the highest average number of passes throughout both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments. In fact, their 2010 average of 527 passes per game is almost 200 greater than the tournament average of 343. And when you compare this to their nearest rivals (the semi and quarter finalists) Spain’s average is still significantly higher.

As well as this higher number of passes, Spain’s average success rate is the highest in the tournament at 89%. When you ally Spain’s superior passing with the fact that they were also above the tournament, quarter-finalist and semi-finalist averages for attacking entries with the fact that they also had the highest average number of crosses and penalty area entries, and it should come as little surprise that they won the tournament.

ANALYSIS OF SPAINS ATTACKING PLAY What is perhaps surprising is that given their dominance of possession and passing and the number of attacking opportunities they created, the Spanish team only averaged 1.14 goals a game throughout the tournament which is only marginally higher than the tournament average and well below the semi-finalist average of 1.6 goals a game. Their solid defence (conceding just 2 goals in the entire tournament), meant Spain’s low conversion rate was enough to see them through each match. This is even more remarkable when you take into account that they created more opportunities and averaged an above tournament and semi-finalist average of 15.7 shots a game. The reason for the comparative lack of goals was their well below average shooting accuracy of 45%, which was 5% less than the tournament average and 12% below the other semi-finalists.

Prozone provided a professional analysis service to a number in National Teams and analysed all 64 games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup In South Africa. This article will examine our findings and offer insights into every goal scored in the tournament. We’ll also take a look at the performance of the tournament’s leading goalscorers.

GOALS SCORED Of the 145 goals that were scored at the 2010 World Cup, 104 (71.7%) were scored from open play and 41 (28.3%) coming from set pieces (excluding penalties shootouts). As would be expected the highest percentage of goals were scored with the right foot, while left footed (23%) and headed goals (19%) were significantly less common.

ASSISTS When analysing the goal assists in this summer’s tournament one of the key findings was that almost a quarter (22.8%) of the goals scored came as a direct result of an open play cross. When you compare this to the figures seen for the 2009/10 season in the Premier League (19.4%) and Championship (15.8%), the importance of wing play and crossing within the tournament is clear.

GOLDEN BOOT This summer’s tournament saw David Villa, Diego Forlan, Thomas Muller and Wesly Sneijder all score five goals. However, It was Thomas Muller who received the Golden Boot because of the three assists that went with his goals. The graph below shows both the total number of shots and the number of shots on target and therefore gives a deeper insight into the accuracy of the tournament’s four leading scorers. As you’ll see Muller had far less shots and less shots on target than any of the other leading scorers. This would suggest a higher degree of accuracy and a higher conversion rate of shots to goals. As can be seen in the graph below, which shows the total number of shots per player and the conversion rate.

These results concur with the decision to award Thomas Muller the Golden Boot as he had the best conversion rate of the four top scorers. Although he had the fewest shots, almost 40% of his attempts resulted in a goal. This is nearly double his nearest rival, Wesley Sneijder, who had a conversion rate of 20.8%.

INTERESTING FACT! FACT While The Golden Ball Winner, Diego Forlan, became the first player in World Cup history to score three goals in one tournament from outside the penalty area, leading goalscorer and young player of the tournament, Thomas Muller, scored all of his five goals from inside the penalty area!

Prozone Sports Ltd - World Cup Performance Summary  

Prozone summary of Spains 2010 World Cup winning campaign using objective performance data.

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