Variation in top level soccer match performance

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Journal Article
International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2007, 28 (12), pp. 1018 - 1024
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This study examined the influence of the opposing team, seasonal variations and the influence of first half activity on match performance in top-level soccer players. Physical performance measures were collected using the ProZone® match analysis system from 20 professional soccer players from the same team and their opponents (n = 188) during a season. Match activities (standing, walking, jogging, running, high-speed running and sprinting), distances (total distance [TD], high-intensity running [HIR] and very high-intensity running [VHIR]) and other measures including involvement with the ball and peak running speed were collected. The influence of opponent team, the level of opposition, first half physical activities on second half activities, and playing position were analysed. The main finding was that TD (r = 0.62, p < 0.05), HIR (r = 0.51, p < 0.05), and VHIR (r = 0.65, p < 0.05) of the reference team was influenced by the activity profile of the opponent teams. The TD and HIR was higher against Best opponent teams compared to Worst opponent teams (p < 0.05), and the TD, HIR and VHIR travelled in the first half significantly influenced the distances covered in the second half. TD, HIR and VHIR were greater at the end of the season. These results may be used to interpret meaningful changes in match performance in top level soccer. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart.
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