Ball possession statistics in soccer

The true measure of a team's ability

The true measure of a team's ability is how effectively it creates chances from possession and how well it can counter an opponent when in possession of the ball. A team can possess the ball more and even create more scoring chances, but those opportunities will be worse because of poor shooting position and heavy pressure from the defense Рarimach.

In the Chelsea goal after the counterattack at Anfield, and the Ronaldo goal before halftime in the away game against Bayern Munich, the goalkeepers were easily beaten. These goals came after well-organized counterattacks, and were not like the other chances created, but if we look at the kicking positions, it becomes clear that after counterattacks from these positions are scored much more often than after positional open attacks, which are countered by a prepared defense.

Therefore, it is much wiser to draw conclusions from basic statistics, such as shots, in the right context, and to assume that the team in possession of the ball automatically plays perfectly, and that any defeat is due to bad luck alone.

Teams with little possession often have alternative opportunities to score. For example, in La Liga, the home of possession, teams with little possession score far more goals from set-pieces and counterattacks than teams that replicate Barcelona's model.

Last season's champions, Atlético de Madrid, scored one-third of their goals from set-pieces and counterattacks, settling for just 49 percent possession. That dropped to 45 percent in the Champions League, where Atlético had already scored half of its goals from counterattacks and standard positions. In the final, they were only three minutes shy of victory over their Madrid neighbors, Real Madrid.

Possession numbers tell us little about a team's effectiveness, and while possession numbers can be very strong, they give a similarly misleading impression of all teams that do it. Ball possession only gives us an indication of what tactics a team is likely to use in a match.