Match Running Performance in UEFA Champions League: Is There a Worthwhile Association with Team Achievement?

Biology (Basel). 2022 Jun 6;11(6):867. doi: 10.3390/biology11060867.

Abstract

Although running performance (RP) is considered an important factor of success in soccer, there is a lack of studies to examine this issue in highest-level soccer competition, such as UEFA Champions League (UCL). Therefore, the main objective of this study was to analyse players' RP according to the achievement of their teams in UCL. In addition, position specific RP of the players who competed in the UCL was evaluated. The players' RPs (n = 244) were collected during UCL group stage matches (n = 20) in the 2020/21 season using semiautomatic optical system InStat Fitness. A team's achievement was defined by qualification of the team from the group stage into the knockout stage of the UCL, and by total group points earned at the end of the UCL group stage. Linear mixed models and Pearson's correlation were used to examine differences in players' RP according to the achievement of their teams. Results indicated (i) similar values of RP irrespective of whether the teams qualified from the group stage into the knockout stage of the UCL, and (ii) trivial-to-small correlations between RP and total group points. Such findings show that players' RP was poorly related to the achievement of their teams in the UCL group stage, indicating trivial influence of RP on success in elite-level soccer.

Keywords: elite players; football; physical demands; playing positions; success.

Grant support

This research is partly financed by Croatian Science Foundation (Grant No. DOK-2020-01-9298).