The purpose of this study was to examine the consistency of performance in successive matches for international soccer teams from Europe which qualified for the quarter final stage of EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. The eight teams that reached the quarter final stage and beyond were the sample teams for this time series analysis. The autocorrelation and cross-correlation functions were used to analyze the consistency of play and its association with the result of match in sixteen performance indicators of each team. The results of autocorrelation function showed that based on the number of consistent performance indicators, Spain and Italy demonstrated more consistency in successive matches in relation to other teams. This appears intuitive given that Spain played Italy in the final. However, it is arguable that other teams played at a higher performance levels at various parts of the competition, as opposed to performing consistently throughout the tournament. The results of the cross-correlation analysis showed that in relation to goal-related indicators, these had higher associations with the match results of Spain and France. In relation to the offensive-related indicators, France, England, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic and Spain showed a positive correlation with the match result. In relation to the defensive-related indicators, France, England, Greece and Portugal showed a positive correlation with match results. In conclusion, in an international soccer tournament, the successful teams displayed a greater degree of performance consistency across all indicators in comparison to their competitors who occasionally would show higher levels of performance in individual games, yet not consistently across the overall tournament. The authors therefore conclude that performance consistency is more significant in international tournament soccer, versus occasionally excelling in some metrics and indicators in particular games.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.