The Effect of Playing Formation on High-Intensity Running and Technical Profiles in English FA Premier League Soccer Matches

Bradley, P.S., Carling, C., Archer, D., Roberts, J., Dodds, A., Di Mascio, M., Paul, D., Gomez Diaz, A., Peart, D., Krustrup, P.

This study aimed to investigate the impact of playing formation on high-intensity running and technical performance in elite soccer matches. Analysis of twenty English FA Premier League games (n = 153 players) was conducted using a multiple-camera computerized tracking system.

The study found that overall ball possession did not differ significantly between 4–4–2, 4–3–3, and 4–5–1 formations. Similarly, no significant differences were observed in high-intensity running between these formations.

However, players in a 4–5–1 formation performed less very high-intensity running when their team was in possession compared to players in 4–4–2 and 4–3–3 formations. Conversely, they performed more very high-intensity running when their team was not in possession. Additionally, attackers in a 4–3–3 formation performed approximately 30% more high-intensity running than attackers in 4–4–2 and 4–5–1 formations.

Furthermore, the fraction of successful passes was highest in a 4–4–2 formation compared to 4–3–3 and 4–5–1 formations.

Overall, these results indicate that playing formation does not significantly influence the overall activity profiles of players, except for attackers. However, it does impact very high-intensity running activity with and without ball possession, as well as some technical elements of performance.

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