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Introducing Similar Team Search

By StatsBomb | December 16, 2020 | Main

Over the past few weeks we’ve highlighted the 'Similar Player Search' function in StatsBomb IQ and presented some use cases for the tool. Today, we’re going to look at a related feature we’ve recently added to our industry leading analysis platform: 'Similar Team Search'.

The functionality is almost identical to that of the player search. A team and radar type (Attacking, Defending or Custom) is selected and the algorithm then produces a list of teams with similar statistical profiles, ranked on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being an exact match. A selection of filters can then be applied to tailor the results as necessary.

This is a powerful tool that takes in data from the wide range of global competitions we collect (80+ from 2021), and one that has a number of potential use cases for clubs, including:

  • Head Coach Recruitment: which teams employ a similar style of play to ours? Who are their head coaches?
  • Tactical Inspiration: team x press in a similar way to us but seem to be more effective at suppressing shots. What are they doing differently?
  • Player Recruitment: team x has a comparable approach to ours. Do they have any players who could be of interest to us?

Let’s look at a few examples using custom radars that seek to primarily identify stylistic rather than performance-related similarities.

We will start off with an attacking radar that attempts to capture team ball progression and chance creation style. Which teams come out as being similar to Manchester City, by some distance the Premier League's top scorers last season?

That looks like a promising list of high possession, territorially dominant teams. Slightly further down you’ll find sides like PSV Eindhoven, Crvena Zvezda and Flamengo -- the latter of whom were coached by Pep Guardiola’s former assistant Doménec Torrent prior to his dismissal last month.

Now let’s turn our attention to the defensive side of things, more concretely to the manner in which team press and counter-press. Our template in this case is Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side in their promotion campaign from the Championship. They were a team who pressed aggressively all over the pitch and made it difficult for opponents to advance into dangerous areas.

So which teams produce defensive outputs similar to those of that Leeds team?

The two closest matches are Liga MX teams Monterrey and Atlas. Two sides from Argentina and Mirandés of the Spanish second division fill out the top five. Could this be a good starting point for an eventual search for Bielsa's replacement?

Finally, let’s look at a global radar that seeks to capture where and how teams defend and how and at what pace they transition from there to attack.

Getafe seem like a good example here, given that they employ an aggressive high press but combine that not with a high percentage of possession, as is often the case with pressing teams, but with a low possession share and quick and direct attacks. If José Bordalás was to leave tomorrow, who would be capable of replicating the approach that has helped lead them to three consecutive top-eight finishes since returning to La Liga in 2017?

Well... Diego Dabove of Argentinos Juniors would seem to be a pretty good candidate. Not only are his side the closest statistical match to Getafe, but there would also be no language barrier to overcome.

Other close matches include Slovácko of the Czech First League and Valérien Ismaël’s Barnsley.

That was a quick run through of the new 'Similar Team Search' function in StatsBomb IQ. With a wide variety of metrics to choose from, it is highly customisable tool, and we are certain our customers will utilise its functionality in ways we haven't yet conceived.


If you are a club, media or gambling entity and want to know more about what StatsBomb can do for you, please get in touch.

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Article by StatsBomb