Copa Libertadores 2021 Final Preview: Flamengo vs. Palmeiras

Flamengo and Palmeiras are the last two winners of the Copa Libertadores, and one of them will again get their hands on the trophy when they meet in the final of the 2021 edition in Montevideo on Saturday. It is the second consecutive all-Brazilian final and one that features representatives from each of its two primary cities: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Both teams are on course to finish in the top three domestically this season -- although only Flamengo still have a chance of overhauling champions elect Atlético Mineiro -- and while Flamengo have been the better team in terms of both results and the underlying numbers over the course of the campaign, the difference isn’t so great as to think the result of the final is a foregone conclusion. Flamengo are a much more possession-orientated team, building up short from the back and into midfield and dominating the ball in their matches. They hold a 60% share of possession on average -- four percentage points clear of the next team. Palmeiras hover much closer to the 50% mark and are more direct in their approach, with one of the longest average pass lengths in the league. This difference in approach is evident if we look at the zones from which the two teams create most danger. With the help of On-Ball Value (OBV), our new model that values every on-ball action in terms of its positive or negative impact on a team’s likelihood of scoring / not conceding, we can visualise the areas of the pitch from which they generate most value in comparison to the league average. Flamengo are a lot more active through the centre of the pitch and particularly in the interior channels of the attacking midfield line, from where they create the majority of their chances. From the left, the value is added by Giorgian de Arrascaeta's incisive passing and Michael's aggressive carries; from the right, primarily by the passing of striker Gabriel Barbosa. Barbosa, scorer of the two late goals that gave Flamengo their dramatic win over River Plate in the 2019 final, plays as the lone striker in Renato Gaucho's habitual 4-2-3-1 formation and is the club's top scorer in the Libertadores, but he is far from their only goal threat. Flamengo have the best top-line and underlying attacking numbers in Brazil, in addition to averaging 2.75 goals per match in the Libertadores, and Bruno Henrique and Michael have also reached double figures in league play. In terms of advancing the ball into attacking areas, it is the contribution of ex-Atlético Madrid and Chelsea left-back Filipe Luís that stands out. He is much more active in infield areas than the average Serie A full-back -- on the other side of the pitch either Mauricio Isla or the promising Matheuzinho generally play much higher and wider -- and leads both his team and the league in deep progressions (passes or carries into the final third), distance advanced towards goal in the attacking half and once all actions directly related to shots have been stripped out, OBV. At 36, he's still going strong. Ball progression is more evenly split between the two sides of the pitch at Palmeiras, with a mix of carries and passes from Dudu on the left -- second to Filipe Luis in the league in terms of distance advanced towards goal in the attacking half -- allied to the regular forward movements of right-back Marcos Rocha (or his deputy Gabriel Menino). Further back, Luan is among the Serie A central defenders who add most value with their passing according to OBV. The right is, though, undoubtedly their most productive side in terms of chance creation, with the dark red colouration inside the area there on the OBV chart above primarily representing the excursions of Rocha, forward Rony and attacking-midfield drifter Gustavo Scarpa. Scarpa has been Palmeiras' most profile shooter and chance creator in the league this season, with three non-penalty goals and 11 assists to his credit and the league's highest OBV contribution per 90 amongst all players with at least 900 minutes of playing time. But he has seen comparatively few minutes in the Libertadores and is most likely to start the final from the bench. With Luiz Adriano expected to miss out through injury, coach Abel Ferreira is likely to start Rony as the main striker in a formation that could vary between a 4-3-2-1 and 3-4-2-1 depending on the positioning of Felipe Melo, still going at 38. In the league, Rony has spent more time out wide than he did last season, with a consequent effect on his shot volume and goal output, but he is the team's top scorer in the Libertadores, with six goals to his credit -- 0.78 per 90. At the other end of the pitch, there is an even starker difference in approach between the two sides. Flamengo not only defend further away from their own goal than any other Serie A side, but they are also one of the league's most aggressive teams in closing down opponents, particularly so directly after losing possession. Palmeiras, meanwhile, defend marginally deeper than the league average, and are clearly less active defensively in the opposition half. Interestingly, though, both appear equally proficient in converting opposition turnovers into efforts on goal, figuring amongst the Serie A teams who most often shoot and score within 20 seconds of regaining possession. Flamengo and Palmeiras have already met twice in the league this season, with Flamengo emerging victorious on both occasions. They won 1-0 with a dominant performance on the opening day of the season and then 3-1 away from home a couple of months back in what was actually a closer match in terms of chance quantity and quality. Flamengo are again the most probable victors on Saturday, but Palmeiras have already seen off two other Brazilian teams to make it this far, and the reigning champions certainly shouldn't be discounted. The stage is set for an entertaining final.

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StatsBomb sign partnership agreement with Vitesse Arnhem

Vitesse Arnhem has signed up for a partnership with StatsBomb to use their industry-leading football data.  The collaboration with the fast-growing company highlights the Eredivisie team's commitment to innovation and will see Vitesse Arnhem reap the benefits of Statsbomb’s data and IQ software platforms to enhance talent identification, performance analysis and opposition scouting.  Vitesse Arnhem joins around 100 professional clubs and federations worldwide in using StatsBomb's deep data, covering over 3,400 events per game. The data includes unique metrics such as Pressures by Player and Team, Pass Footedness, Pass Height, Freeze Frame for Shots and On-Ball Value - the company's new possession value model.  Alexandre Taylor, Sales Executive, StatsBomb, said: "We are excited to start working with Vitesse Arnhem, a club at the forefront of football data innovation. We are looking forward to a successful partnership contributing to the club’s data-driven strategy, where our data will help inform critical decisions around recruitment and scouting.” Speaking about the partnership, Johannes Spors, Sporting Director, Vitesse, said: "At Vitesse, we are constantly looking for smart and inventive solutions. We welcome new ideas, embrace modern technologies and love different ways of thinking. For our scouting and analysis, the focus on video and data-driven elements is therefore becoming increasingly important. COVID-19 and its travel restrictions have made these tools even more valuable. The addition of StatsBomb as a data service fits seamlessly into our innovative approach and helps us to scout and develop high potential talents from Europe and make targeted match analyses." About StatsBomb StatsBomb is the world’s fastest growing football data company. Founded by former analyst Ted Knutson, StatsBomb was formed to empower data analysis teams by ensuring they have access to the best football data set ever created. Having started as an analytics blog, StatsBomb initially progressed to consulting on data-driven recruitment and performance analysis for professional teams. In 2018, having become frustrated with limitations of the data available at the time, StatsBomb acquired ArqamFC, a data collection company based in Cairo, Egypt, and started to collect and supply its own data. The introduction of StatsBomb data was a turning point for the analysis of football as it introduced previously unavailable metrics such as pressures, the height of the ball at the point of shot impact, goalkeeper positioning, freeze frames for shots and the foot with which each pass is played. In 2021, StatsBomb improved this data even further with the launch of StatsBomb 360, adding a snapshot of all visible player locations to more than 3,400 on-the-ball events that are collected per match. Having gained rapid traction since its inception, StatsBomb is now servicing customers across the professional game, as well as betting and gaming operators, and is active in over 20 countries.

StatsBomb Conference 2021: Research Papers

It was a privilege to host such a high standard of presenters at the StatsBomb Conference 2021 in October.

On the Research Track stage, the winners of the research paper competition demonstrated their analysis in a clear and insightful way, showing a great level of innovation and some compelling findings from the original research they conducted on StatsBomb 360 Data. We're delighted to be able to share with you the white papers from those talks, as well as remind you where you can watch the talks again. More than a dozen videos from the event are available to watch on our YouTube channel now, with a specific StatsBomb Conference 2021 playlist already set up for you to dive into. The research papers can be accessed by clicking the links below, which will take you to the respective pdf document.

Maaike van Roy, et al - Optimally Disrupting Opponent Build-ups


Hadi Sotudeh - Potential Penetrative Pass (P3)

Juan Camilo Campos - Determining the phases of play using Graph Neural Network Embeddings


Javier M. Buldú and Borja Burriel - The quest for the right pass: Quantifying player’s decision making

Javier M Buldu

Soumyajit Bose and Manas Saraswat - Anatomy of Receiving and Turning with the Ball

Samer Fatayri, Kirill Serykh and Egor Gumin - What Drives the Goalkeepers' Decisions?


StatsBomb Agree Partnership with Borussia Dortmund

StatsBomb are delighted to have agreed a deal to provide their cutting edge data and analytics services to Borussia Dortmund, one of Europe’s most forward-thinking clubs.

Dortmund have signed up to use StatsBomb’s event data –- containing over 3,400 events per game, more than double the amount of other providers -- and IQ analytics software in all sectors of the club, including in their performance, opposition, and recruitment analysis operations. The Bundesliga club will benefit from access to StatsBomb’s deep data, which includes unique metrics such as pressures at a team and player level, pass footedness, pass height and freeze frames, providing detailed defender and goalkeeper location information on every shot.

Ismail Tari, Business Development Lead at StatsBomb, said:

"It’s great to be working with one of Europe’s most renowned and well-managed clubs. Borussia Dortmund have a long history of operating in an intelligent manner and we are excited to join their journey by providing them with access to the best data and analysis tools available."

Kai-Norman Schulz, Head of Sports Technologies at Borussia Dortmund, said:

"We have the ambition to implement as good and innovative solutions as possible in our daily work. We are therefore delighted to be working with StatsBomb, a company that is developing a very interesting event data approach and providing it to us in different ways. We look forward to a hopefully successful cooperation."


StatsBomb Sign Agreement with Club América, One of the Biggest Teams in Latin America

StatsBomb, the leading football data provider, has signed an agreement with Club América, one of the most prestigious teams in Latin America.

Club América will have better information with which to make key decisions after becoming one of the more than 100 professional clubs and federations around the world to benefit from StatsBomb’s cutting-edge data and models -- the most detailed and reliable available.

The Mexican side will also benefit from access to the highly customisable analysis platform StatsBomb IQ, enhancing their ability to scout and recruit players, analyse opposing teams and evaluate their own performance.

Pablo Peña Rodríguez, Head of Innovation at StatsBomb, said:

"We are delighted to be working hand-in-hand with a club as prestigious as Club América, a reference in both Mexican and Latin American football. The successful integration of advanced data into decision-making processes has never been more important than it is today in gaining a competitive advantage in elite football and we hope to accompany the club in many triumphs."

Enrique Cházaro, Coordinator of Sporting Intelligence, Club América said: "In football, as in all sports, technology and data collection have advanced a lot over the last few years. One of the principal objectives of Club América is to remain at the vanguard of technology because we believe that will allow us to gain a competitive advantage over other clubs and could also turn us into a reference point in the region.

"Working with StatsBomb will allow us to further develop this idea. There is no doubt in our minds that the information and reports we can generate from this application are of the highest quality available and will provide key insight in the analysis we do both in scouting players and in analysing opposition players on a week-to-week basis."