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Applying centrality metrics to identify the prominent football players

Clemente, F.M.C. ; Mendes, R. ; Martins, F.

Applying centrality metrics to identify the prominent football players, Proc Congreso Internacional de la Asociación Española de Ciencias del Deporte, Caceres, Spain, Vol. 1, pp. 583 - 586, November, 2014.

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In attacking moments, the passing sequence reveals the way in which teammates cooperate and also how players determine the style of play of a team (Malta & Travassos, 2014). A possible approach to identify the specific interactions that emerges during the match is the network that is based on graph theory. The use of graph theory on football match analysis is quite recent, mainly using such approach to classify the individual contribution of players. In a study carried out by Duch, Waitzman and Amaral (2010) it was found during the Euro Cup 2008 that the best player was the Xavi (Spain midfielder). This study used a network approach to compute the performance indicators and rank the players by their individual contribute during the matches. In another study it was used some centrality network metrics to classify the individual contribution of players during the FIFA World Cup 2010 final (Peña & Touchette, 2012). The page rank measure revealed that Xavi (once again) had the highest score. Thus, the tendency of Spain team was to centralize the passing sequence on the central midfielder. Nevertheless, there are another interesting metrics such as degree centrality, degree prestige or closeness centrality that can help to better understand the prominence of players during the passing sequence. Moreover, the studies only focused on individual players (independently of their positional role during the match) and did not considered the tactical roles. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse the centrality levels of Spain positional roles during the FIFA World Cup 2014 and to identify the prominent tactical positions that determined the moments with ball.