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Modeling Tactical Changes of Formation in Association Football as a Zero-Sum Game

Listed author(s):
  • Hirotsu Nobuyoshi

    (Japan Institute of Sports Sciences)

  • Wright Mike B

    (Lancaster University)

Registered author(s):

    Although tactical decisions made by managers during a match of team sports are very important, there have been few quantitative analyses which include the effect of interaction between both teams decisions, because of the complexity of the problem where one teams decision will affect the other teams. A game theoretic approach can be useful for tackling this type of problem.This paper proposes a game theoretic approach to modeling tactical changes of formation in an association football match. We assume probabilities of scoring and conceding a goal follow Poisson distributions and use a regression model to evaluate the means of the distributions. These means represent the offensive strength for scoring a goal and defensive propensity to concede a goal in terms of a teams formation, i.e. a combination of the number of each type of outfield player on the pitch, and are estimated by means of the maximum likelihood method. We then develop a mathematical formulation with which we can calculate the probability of the home team winning the match, and use it to analyse tactical changes of the teams formations, modeling the football match as a zero-sum game, in which the gain in probability of one team winning is equal to the loss in probability of the other team winning. We demonstrate how the managers decisions affect the probability of winning the match using real data of the Japan professional football league, by showing four cases of the quality of both managers decisions, depending on whether they each use their best or worst strategies.There still remains some uncertainty and longer observational studies will be required for a complete analysis, but this method can help to evaluate quantitatively the quality of tactical decisions made by managers.

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    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 1-22

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:2:y:2006:i:2:n:4
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