If there is a league that has somehow institutionalised a way of pressing the opposition in its own style and intensity, it is the German league. For more than ten years now, it has propagated ideas that have ended up spreading to other leagues, generating a multitude of coaches who are a reference in Europe. For this reason, developing metrics that capture this way of pressing, whether for this style of play or others, visualising them on the pitch, helps to measure the performance of these players and teams through data.
Using the Bundesliga as an example, we use aggressive actions and quick recoveries, two different metrics that measure the same concept: quick pressing after losing the ball in the opponent’s half. Defined as:
- Aggressive actions: Tackles attempted in the next 2 seconds after a turnover
- Quick recoveries: Recoveries 40 metres or more from own goal within 5 seconds after loss the ball.
The Bundesliga player with most of these actions is Cologne midfielder Ellyes Skhiri, a very active player in all types of defensive actions, effective in getting his leg in and recovering the ball, tireless in covering and energetic pressing, and who is thus reflected in our scatter graph as the player with the most successful actions when the opponent recovers the ball.
In terms of the teams, and as in almost all the parameters measured, Bayern continues to be the benchmark. If we cross the Passes per Defensive Action (PPDA) with the high recoveries, we have a complete picture of the German championship, with Leverkusen being the most passive team in their understanding of defending and recovering the ball.
In fact, there is no team that presents a picture of quick recoveries and aggressive actions like Nagelsmann’s Bayern, a team that plays practically without a net in defence and presses forward very aggressively, with a very high success rate, on the other hand.
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