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In Journal of sports sciences ; h5-index 52.0

We propose to analyse the origin of goals in professional football (soccer) in a purely data-driven approach. Based on positional and event data of 3,457 goals from two seasons German Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga (2018/20,219 and 2019/2020), we devise a rich set of 37 features that can be extracted automatically and propose a hierarchical clustering approach to identify group structures. The results consist of 50 interpretable clusters revealing insights into scoring patterns. The hierarchical clustering found 8 alone standing clusters (penalties, direct free kicks, kick and rush, one-two's, assisted by header, assisted by throw-in) and nine categories (e.g., corners) combining more granular patterns (e.g., five subcategories of corner-goals). We provide a thorough discussion of the clustering and show its relevance for practical applications in opponent analysis, player scouting and for long-term investigations. All stages of this work have been supported by professional analysts from clubs and federation.

Anzer Gabriel, Bauer Pascal, Brefeld Ulf


Hierarchical Clustering, Professional football (Soccer), Sports analytics, Tactical Analysis