2021 Volume 66 Pages 261-275
In soccer, as the number of goals determines victory or defeat, the top priority of soccer attacks is to score goals. In many competitions, more than 70% of goals are scored by shooting from within the penalty area (PA). Thus, entering the PA is an important factor in scoring goals to win games and advance in a tournament. However, as no previous research has analyzed in detail attacking play involving entry into the PA, players are unable to receive effective coaching. Focusing on the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the present study compared attacking play into the PA between top-ranked teams that advanced (top teams) and lower-ranked teams that were defeated and did not advance (lower teams) in order to identify the characteristics and differences of the two groups. Samples were obtained from all 48 games played in the tournament at this stage. For statistical analysis, the unpaired t test and c2 test were used. No significant inter-group differences were found in the number of attacks or entering the PA and the number of shots, but the top teams had higher success rates in shooting and attacking, suggesting that they had excellent finishers or created better shooting situations. With regard to movements for receiving passes by players who entered the PA, the top teams showed a higher frequency of moving from the outside to the inside of the PA and receiving passes there, suggesting that their players received the ball as they moved toward the PA. Moreover, compared to the players of lower teams, they received passes inside the PA when no opposition defenders were in the attacking direction. These findings suggest that players of top teams evaded marking by opponents by receiving the ball while moving toward the PA. Furthermore, since top teams had higher scoring rates when their players dribbled into the PA, they likely had players more highly skilled in dribbling, thus resulting in goals.