Club Brugge are well acquainted with success. The team have won a combined 46 domestic honours since the club’s formation, including 18 Belgian Pro Championships, 17 Belgische Supercups and 11 Coupe de Belgiques. Last season, they claimed a third consecutive league title and this year, they have already qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club's history.
Brugge are one of many savvy clubs across the football landscape that utilise detailed analytics and event data to inform key internal departments and to contribute towards the success of the team. Jan Van Haaren was part of last season’s success having joined Brugge as a Data Scientist in July 2021 and as part of the club’s innovation lab team.
Before joining Club Brugge, Jan worked at SciSports as a Chief Analytics Officer and obtained a PhD in Machine Learning from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). He is now responsible for everything from implementing data-driven processes across recruitment strategies and match analysis reporting to collaborating with first-team staff to understand the squads' technical, tactical, and physical performance.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jan about the role of StatsBomb’s data and analysis tools in his position, the Brugge organisation and the club’s title-winning season.
StatsBomb (SB): Prior to using StatsBomb Data and analytics what did your analysis workflow look like?
Jan Van Haaren (JVH): "We started collaborating with StatsBomb shortly after I joined Club Brugge. The first-team staff primarily relied on fixed reports that the official data supplier produced for the Belgian Pro League and the UEFA Champions League. The recruitment staff mainly used basic statistics obtained via a video platform and different recruitment platforms offered by other data providers."
(SB): Within this, what were the biggest challenges you faced?
(JVH): "We faced two significant challenges before working with StatsBomb Data. The first challenge was a lack of contextualisation and personalisation in competing platforms. Unlike most other platforms, StatsBomb IQ provides functionality that allows us to account for the contextual information that our coaching and recruitment staff deem important and relevant. Moreover, the raw StatsBomb Data enables us to tailor our advanced performance and playing style metrics to our club’s philosophy and style.
The second challenge was a lack of confidence in the data provided by other suppliers. Competing platforms that offer advanced metrics did not provide clear definitions for those metrics or convincing validation studies and blog posts that demonstrate their validity and utility."
(SB): Since signing up with StatsBomb, what are the biggest changes you have seen?
(JVH): "We have seen two significant changes since our collaboration with StatsBomb began. The first change is that data has been playing an increasingly important role in all decision-making processes across the organisation. In our opposition analysis and player recruitment processes, data has evolved from a nice addition to a more traditional analysis process to an integral part of the workflow.
The second change is that the insights from the data that we are relying on in our decision-making processes are much more tailored to our club’s philosophy. Before working with StatsBomb, we had to rely on aggregate statistics and metrics that failed to account for vital contextual information."
(SB): What role has StatsBomb played in these changes?
(JVH): "StatsBomb Data has enabled us to design advanced metrics and tailor them to our club's philosophy for opposition analysis and player recruitment. The granularity and accuracy of the data also allows us to account for vital contextual information that our coaching and recruitment staff deem essential and relevant.
As well as this, StatsBomb Data is straightforward to work with as the data feeds and the API are optimised for analysis purposes, which is not always the case with other providers."
(SB): What is the biggest success you have had since joining as a StatsBomb customer?
(JVH): "Last year, we won the Belgian Pro League for the third consecutive season. This year, we have qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club's history, and we will finish top of our respective group."
(SB): What internal or external decisions have been influenced by using StatsBomb Data and products?
(JVH): "We use StatsBomb Data in all our decision-making processes surrounding match preparation and player recruitment. In most cases, we also produce custom metrics using raw data from the StatsBomb API. Sometimes, we also use metrics and visualisations directly from StatsBomb IQ. Our opposition analysis and player evaluation reports also include detailed insights derived from StatsBomb's advanced performance data."
As well as success, it is clear to see that Jan Van Haaren and Club Brugge are well acquainted with advanced data and analytics. Not only that, Van Haaren and his team have shown how to effectively integrate performance data and unique analytics into their workflows and processes to help the team achieve continued success on the pitch.
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