Measuring effectiveness of zone-oriented defence on preventing goal scoring in professional soccer matches
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway 1. INTRODUCTION The zone-oriented defence is based on the defensive organization that emphasizes exerting pressure on the opponent player with the ball, at the same time providing backup and cover once the team loses ball possession in open play (Worthington, 1980; Olsen et al., 1994). The empirical evidence on whether these practical guidelines really work is rarely found in the literature. The aim of this case-control study is to examine the effects of the zone-oriented defensive tactics of defensive pressure, defensive backup and defensive cover, separately and combined, on the probability of conceding a goal in real matches from Norwegian elite soccer. 2. METHODS Videotapes from 163 out of 182 (90%) matches played in the Norwegian professional male league during the 2004 season were used. The league involves 14 teams and follows a double round robin competition format, which means that each team played 26 matches, 13 home and 13 away. A total of 203 goals (43%) out of 476 goals were scored from open-play. A sample included 203 goals (cases) and 1688 random team possessions (control group) obtained from open-play periods in soccer matches.