Data, tracking technology 'very important' for young coaches

football17 May 2021 17:54| © AFP
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Julian Nagelsmann © Gallo Images

Player tracking and live data in football offer tactical boosts to coaches, with incoming Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann saying modern technology is "very important".

Teams are using technology which transmits data immediately to a computer screen with players' positions shown by coloured dots, much like fans would have seen on television coverage.

Coaches and club staff can see different live data, including by using a microchip inside the ball, to discover the distance of passes played, the speed of passes, and size of the average gap between defenders.

"I think data is a big topic, and will become bigger in the future," said Nagelsmann, who is leaving RB Leipzig to take over at six-time European champions Bayern at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old was speaking over video call during the official announcement of Fifa's new partnership with football data company Kinexon.

"To control things by data is important, to control the efforts of the guys and the training is still a big topic for me, but in the future it will become more important to control the tactics for a young manager like me," he added.

"Because of the tracking possibility for the ball, it's important to try to improve the tactical things.

"It's important to learn what is a ball-winning moment, what is a ball-losing moment, what is a counter-pressing (moment), what is a counter-attack (moment)."

Netherlands defender Dominique Janssen said tracking technology showed how her team pressed better than their rivals when they claimed a shock title at the women's Euro 2017.

"About the pressing part, after the Euro, we had a few statistics from the coaches and they also showed that we were being really compact and that also was what made us successful compared to other teams," she said.

"It can help tactically to be better if you see those things on the screen."

But the 26-year-old Wolfsburg player admits that you "cannot substitute the human part with data".

"You need explanations if you're not in the starting XI," Janssen said, pointing out that human interaction in football will always be crucial.

"Obviously we won't replace that human factor, we can bring things together, we can give you information, but of course at the end, data won't win the game," agrees the head of research at Fifa, Nicholas Evans.

Like most clubs in Europe's biggest leagues, Bundesliga side Hoffenheim have used such technology for several seasons.

"Having the live data gives you an idea of how a player should work in training. And in a match, (that) immediately gives us the opportunity to react," Sascha Haertel, the performance scientist at the German team, told AFP.

Kinexon co-founder Maximilian Schmidt said the technology can cost a club between €25 000 and €75 000 per season "depending on the scope of the services offered".