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Differences in Technical Performance of Players From ‘The Big Five’ European Football Leagues in the UEFA Champions League

Yi, Q, Groom, R, Dai, C, Liu, H and Gómez Ruano, MÁ (2019) Differences in Technical Performance of Players From ‘The Big Five’ European Football Leagues in the UEFA Champions League. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. ISSN 1664-1078

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The current study aimed to identify the differences in technical performance between players from clubs of Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), Premier League (England) and Serie A (Italy) when competing in the matches of the UEFA Champions League. Technical performance-related match data of 1,291 players from 1,125 matches (9,799 observations) of the UEFA Champions League (seasons 2009/2010–2017/2018) were collected and analysed. The generalised mixed linear modelling was employed taking the names of the league as the independent variable to predict the count number of 20 technical performance-related match actions and events performed by players belonging to different leagues. The non-clinical magnitude-based inference was used to evaluate the uncertainty in the true effects of the predictor. Results showed that differences in the technical performances between players from La Liga, Premier League and Ligue 1 were all trivial. Bundesliga players made higher numbers of shots than players from La Liga, Premier League and Serie A and achieved more long balls than players from Ligue 1. Serie A players achieved lower numbers of ball touches, passes and lower pass accuracy per match than players from any of the other four leagues. In addition, players from Serie A performed a higher number of long balls per match than Ligue 1 players and lower number of dribbles per match than Premier League players. Non-significant differences in other variables related to passing and organising and all variables related to defending were identified in players between the five leagues. The identified differences in technical performance among leagues could provide a more thorough understanding for practitioners working within the fields of talent identification, player development, player recruitment, coaching and match preparation.

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