Match Performance of High-Standard Soccer Players with Special Reference to Development of Fatigue

Mohr, M., Krustrup, P., Bangsbo, J.

Aim: This study aimed to evaluate physical fitness, match performance, and fatigue development during competitive matches among top-class and moderate professional soccer players.

Methods: Computerized time-motion analyses were conducted 2–7 times throughout the competitive season on 18 top-class and 24 moderate professional soccer players. Additionally, players underwent the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test. Statistical comparisons were made between the two groups regarding high-intensity running, sprinting, and Yo-Yo test performance. The amount of high-intensity running was also analyzed across different stages of the game and between successive matches. Differences in performance were assessed based on playing positions.

Results: Top-class players exhibited significantly higher levels of high-intensity running and sprinting compared to moderate players. They also outperformed moderate players in the Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test. Fatigue was evident towards the end of matches and periodically during games, regardless of competitive standard or team position. Substitute players showed increased high-intensity running during the final 15 minutes of the game. Physical performance varied substantially across different stages of the season. Midfielders, full-backs, and attackers covered more distance in total and high-intensity running compared to defenders. Attackers and full-backs also sprinted more than midfielders and defenders. Midfielders and full-backs demonstrated better Yo-Yo test performance compared to defenders and attackers.

Conclusion: This study highlights several key findings: top-class players exhibit superior physical fitness and performance compared to moderate players, fatigue is prevalent towards the end of matches and intermittently during games, and physical performance varies significantly across playing positions and throughout the season. These insights can inform training and conditioning strategies to optimize performance and mitigate fatigue in professional soccer players.

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