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Concept: Serie A

28

The aim of this study was to define and categorise different styles of play in elite soccer and associated performance indicators by using factor analysis. Furthermore, the observed teams were categorised using all factor scores. Data were collected from 97 matches from the Spanish La Liga and the English Premier League from the seasons 2006-2007 and 2010-2011 using the Amisco® system. A total of 19 performance indicators, 14 describing aspects of attacking play and five describing aspects of defensive play, were included in the factor analysis. Six factors, representing 12 different styles of play (eight attacking and four defensive), had eigenvalues greater than 1 and explained 87.54% of the total variance. Direct and possession styles of play, defined by factor 1, were the most apparent styles. Factor analysis used the performance indicators to cluster each team’s style of play. Findings showed that a team’s style of play was defined by specific performance indicators and, consequently, teams can be classified to create a playing style profile. For practical implications, playing styles profiling can be used to compare different teams and prepare for opponents in competition. Moreover, teams could use specific training drills directed to improve their styles of play.

Concepts: Factor analysis, Premier League, Association football, Team, La Liga, UEFA, UEFA Champions League, Serie A

24

Epidemiological studies on football (soccer) injuries are needed to assess both the magnitude of the problem and the effectiveness of preventive programmes. However, few data are available for Italy, which hosts one of the main football leagues in Europe. In this study, we aimed to describe the epidemiology of football injuries in the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 seasons of the Italian Serie A. Information about injury location, type, date of occurrence and duration of absence was obtained from www.football-lineups.com , a free collaborative international database on football. Overall, 363 injuries occurred throughout the two seasons affecting 286 players. The most commonly reported injuries were thigh-strain and knee injury, which accounted for 42% and 19% of all injuries, respectively. Injury incidence increased with age and was particularly higher from August to October. Results suggest that injury prevention strategies should be introduced from the preseason to reduce the risk of injuries, especially muscle strains.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Premier League, Association football, Italy, UEFA Champions League, Serie A

11

The Nordic hamstring (NH) exercise programme was introduced in 2001 and has been shown to reduce the risk of acute hamstring injuries in football by at least 50%. Despite this, the rate of hamstring injuries has not decreased over the past decade in male elite football.

Concepts: Premier League, Association football, Accident, La Liga, UEFA, UEFA Champions League, Promotion and relegation, Serie A

5

Talent identification and development in soccer is often biased by maturation-related differences of young athletes. However, there is no information available about success rates for youth maturing at different tempos to achieve success in elite adult soccer. The purposes of this study were to determine the prevalence of different maturational groups among boys playing soccer, and to track them for competence in adult performance. A prospective cohort study design was used to follow 55, 14-year-old boys playing in Serbian youth soccer Division I over eight years. At the age of 14, biological age using skeletal age rates was determined, and participants were categorized as early maturers (EaM), normal maturers (NoM), and late maturers (LaM). Game competence for adult soccer at age 22 was described as elite if an individual played for clubs competing in top-five international soccer leagues (La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1), and/or has become a member of an adult National team. Among boys in our study group, 43.8% were categorized as EaM, 35.4% as NoM, and 20.8% as LaM (P = 0.11). A significant difference in biological age was found among maturational groups at age 14, with EaM > NoM > LaM (P > 0.0001). When assessed for adult soccer competence, 33.3% of participants (16 out of 48 players) succeed in achieving elite level. Elite soccer competence acquired 60.1% players from the group of LaM, 38.1% from NoM, and 11.8% from EaM (P > 0.0001). Our comparative analysis suggests that soccer excludes early maturing boys and favors late maturing boys as level of performance increases.

Concepts: Cohort study, Premier League, Association football, La Liga, UEFA, UEFA Champions League, Ligue 1, Serie A

4

The aim of this study was to investigate the association between MCT1 rs1049434 polymorphism and indirect muscle injuries in elite football players. One hundred and seventy-three male elite Italian football players (age = 19.2 ± 5.3 years) were recruited from a first-league football club participating at the Official National Italian Football Championship (Serie A, Primavera, Allievi, Giovanissimi). The cohort was genotyped for the MCT1 rs1049434 polymorphism, and muscle injuries data were collected during the period of 2009-2014 (five football seasons).

Concepts: Italy, Serie A

2

Vigne, G, Dellal, A, Gaudino, C, Chemari, k, Rogowski, I, Alloatti, G, Wong, PD, Owen, A, and Hautier, C. Physical outcome in a successful Italian Serie A soccer team over three consecutive seasons. J Strength Cond Res 27(5): 1400-1406, 2013-The aim of this study was to examine the physical performance of a successful Italian Serie A team of more than 3 consecutive seasons. Twenty-five players participated in the study and were classified into 3 playing positions: defenders (n = 9), midfielders (n = 11), and forwards (n = 5). Activities match were studied by an analysis of multiple match camera SICS throughout the competition Italian Serie A matches played at home (n = 90) for 3 consecutive seasons (first: 2004/2005; second: 2005/2006; and third: 2006/2007). Total team ball possession and time-motion characteristics were examined. Results showed that total ball possession (52.1-54.9%) and the number of points accumulated at home (40/48) improved in the past 3 seasons, whereas the final rankings at home were stable. The total distances covered by minutes of play were significantly different between the 3 seasons (118.32 ± 6.69 m·min to 111.96 ± 8.05 m·min). Distance running and high-intensity activities were similar in the 3 seasons, whereas the distance covered in moderate-intensity running decreased in the third (p < 0.05). Variations between playing positions were found during the 3 consecutive seasons, with midfielders covering greater distances than defenders (p < 0.05) and forwards (p < 0.01). This study showed how for 3 consecutive seasons a Serie A team of successful players reduced their distances performed at submaximal speeds, and increased ball possession, while maintaining the high-intensity activities and the number of points at home. It is suggested that this is because of a better understanding of roles and tactics team organization and to act collectively and individually on these parameters to reduce energy expenditure during the game to maintain a high-level performance throughout the season.

Concepts: Premier League, Association football, Serie A

1

The relative age effect (RAE; i.e., an asymmetry in the birth distribution) is a bias observed in sport competitions that may favour relatively older athletes in talent identification. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the presence of RAE in elite soccer players competing in the Italian championships, even considering the discriminations of younger and older Serie A players (in relation to the median age of the sample), and different positional roles (i.e., goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward) for each observed category. A total of 2051 players competing into the 2017-2018 Italian under-15 (n = 265), under-16 (n = 362), under-17 (n = 403), Primavera (n = 421) and Serie A (n = 600) championships were analysed. The birth-date distributions, grouped in four quartiles (i.e., January-March, Q1; April-June, Q2; July-September, Q3; October-December, Q4), were compared to a uniform distribution using Chi-squared analysis. The week of birth was analysed using Poisson regression. The results showed a large over-representation of players born in Q1 in all soccer player categories. However, the effect size of this trend resulted smaller as age increased. Individuals born in Q1 have about two-folds more chances to become a Serie A player compared to those born in Q4. The Poisson regression analysis showed that RAE was greater for defenders than for forwards among all categories. Therefore, a strongly biased selection emerged among elite soccer players competing in Italian championships, highlighting how young individuals born in the first three months have many more chances to become elite players compared to the others.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Normal distribution, Premier League, Association football, Poisson regression, La Liga, Association football positions, Serie A

1

Abstract The aim of the current study was (i) to identify how important is a good season start on elite soccer teams' performance and (ii) to examine whether this impact is related to the clubs' financial budget. The match performances and annual budgets of all teams were collected from the English FA Premier League, French Ligue 1, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga for three consecutive seasons (2010-2011 to 2012-2013). A k-means cluster analysis classified the clubs according to their budget as High Range Budget Clubs, Upper-Mid Range Budget Clubs, Lower-Mid Range Budget Clubs and Low Range Budget Clubs. Data were examined through linear regression models. Overall, the results suggested that the better the team performance at the beginning of the season, the better the ranking at the end of the season. However, the impact of the effect depended on the clubs' annual budget, with lower budgets being associated with a greater importance of having a good season start (P < 0.01). Moreover, there were differences in trends across the different leagues. These variables can be used to develop accurate models to estimate final rankings. Conversely, Lower-Mid and Lower Range Budget Clubs can benefit from fine-tuning preseason planning in order to accelerate the acquisition of optimal performances.

Concepts: Premier League, Association football, La Liga, UEFA, UEFA Champions League, Promotion and relegation, Serie A, National football

0

The performance of a soccer team depends on many factors such as decision-making, cognitive and physical skills, and dynamic ever-changing space-time interactions between teammate and opponents in relation to the ball. Seventy ( n = 70) matches of the Italian SERIE A season 2013-2014 were investigated to analyze the mean performance of 360 players in terms of physical (physical efficiency index; PEI) and technical-tactical (technical efficiency index; TEI) standpoints. Using a semiautomatic video analysis system that has incorporated new parameters able to measure technical-tactical and physical efficiency (Patent IB2010/002593, 2011-ISA), the correlation between these new variables and how much it relates to the likelihood of winning were verified. Correlations between TEI and PEI were significant ( n = 140, r = .60, p < .001), and TEI showed a higher likelihood of winning than PEI factors ( p < .0001 vs. .0001, CI 95% [1.64, 3.00] vs. [1.28, 2.07]). Higher TEI and TEI + PEI differences between the teams were associated with a greater likelihood of winning, but PEI differences were not. Key performance indicators and this performance assessment method might be useful to better understand what determines winning and to assist the overall training process and match management.

Concepts: Association football, Serie A, Juventus F.C., A.S. Roma, Ascoli Calcio 1898, F.C. Internazionale Milano, ACF Fiorentina, A.C. Milan

0

The aim of this study was to assess how anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures with subsequently surgery reconstruction were sustaining during the professional career of women’s' volleyball players of A1-A2 Italian volleyball league.

Concepts: Knee, Anterior cruciate ligament, Ligament, Anterior cruciate ligament injury, Cruciate ligament, Italy, Ligaments, Serie A