The present study aimed to examine the independent and interactive effects of match location, match status, and quality of opposition on regaining possession, analysed by the type and zone of ball recovery, in matches played in the 2011-2012 UEFA Champions League. Twenty-eight matches of the knockout phase were evaluated post-event using a computerized notational analysis system. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was applied to identify the effects of the previously mentioned situational variables on ball recovery type and zone. Match status and quality of opposition main effects were observed for both dependent variables, while main effects of match location were only evident for ball recovery zone. Additionally, the interactions Match location * Quality of opposition and Match status * Quality of opposition were significant for both type and zone of ball recovery. Better teams employed more proactive defensive strategies, since, even when winning, they tried to sustain their defensive success on actions that aimed to gain the ball from the opponents. Results emphasized the tendency for home and losing teams to defend in more advanced pitch zones. Better-ranked teams were also more effective than worse-ranked teams in applying defensive pressure in more advanced pitch positions. The findings of the study suggest that the defensive strategies used by better teams imply more intense and organized collective processes in order to recover the ball directly from the opposing team. Furthermore, defending away from own goal and near the opponent's one seems to be associated with success in elite soccer.
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”.