The performance of the home teams was measured using 7 variables (ball possession, throw-ins, short passes, long passes, pass success percentage, touches, and defensive aspects (clearances + fouls + recoveries) in 5 minute periods (0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, 41-45). Ball possession (p<0.01), the pass success percentage (p<0.05), short passes (p<0.05) and touches (p<0.01) had the highest values in the 0-5 minute periods compared with the rest of the periods in the match. However, as the game went on, the performance of the home teams became increasingly worse. This trend spiked from the period between 16-20 minutes onwards. This transient effect was reduced or increased depending on the strength of the rival team (p<0.01): the better the opponent the less this effect was evident at the start of the match.
Coaches must be familiar with this “fizzle-out effect” in the performance of the home teams and prepare the players for a scenario in which their opponents come out “firing on all cylinders” during the early stages of the match. The final match result may have a lot to do with withstanding the home team’s initial push. As well as technical and tactical questions, psychological preparation may be the key.
Carlos Lago Peñas
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5Lago-Peñas, C., Gómez, M.A., & Richard Pollard (2017) Home advantage in elite soccer matches. A transient effect? International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 17:1-2, 86-95.