AWS real-time stats give Bundesliga players fewer excuses

Rohith Nair
·3-min read
Players are seen in action as a score board is displayed during a march at Veltins-Arena

By Rohith Nair

(Reuters) - When Erling Haaland scored his 25th Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund in his 25th game for the club the 20-year-old striker had certainly exceeded expectations but for the first time analysts were able to calculate by exactly how much.

Haaland had taken 73 shots on goal for an Expected Goals (xGoals) tally of 18.15, which means he had scored seven more goals than expected, underlining his world class efficiency in converting shots from difficult situations.

The metric measures the quality of chances and considers factors such as distance to goal, angle of the shot, number of opponents in a player's path and goalkeeper's position before comparing it with thousands of similar instances in the past.

xGoals has only recently entered football parlance but is slowly gaining a foothold in statistics to explain in greater detail how players and teams perform.

The Bundesliga signed a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver advanced statistics and has been displaying them in real-time to fans who can now decide for themselves if players should have performed better on certain plays.

"Real time statistics are delivering the truth and now there are fewer excuses for the players," Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director and AWS technical ambassador Simon Rolfes told Reuters.

"But as a player you want to do your best, you want to improve. I think that also helps you to analyse yourself... even the players would like to prepare better."

POTENT WEAPON

Average Positions trends based on situational scenarios are also being calculated in real-time as well as a team's attacking zones, making such data a potent weapon in a coach's arsenal and Rolfes said Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz is a big fan.

"We have one guy sitting in the tribune watching the game, analysing real-time data and relaying it to the bench," Rolfes added. "It has an influence on the decisions the coaches make."

Average Positions calculations covering 90 minutes use more than 3.6 million data points to show how teams are set up.

Starting lineups give opposition managers a fair idea of what formation to expect but Average Positions goes a step further by throwing light on whether it will be an attacking or defensive set-up and which zones on the pitch they prefer.

"Earlier they would just know the formations, but now you're seeing average positions so you can plan ahead and actually come up with better tactics for your team," Rolfes said.

Rolfes believes the new data is a treasure trove that will complement information collected by scouts as clubs look to identify potential new recruits.

"What's really important for finding new players is the combination of these different match facts," he said.

"You combine them to give you a clearer, objective view of a player that's not defined by an individual opinion."

(This story has been refiled to fix typo in par 11)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)