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Defensive work by forwards: new indicator

The 463rd CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks attacking players (wingers and centre forwards) in 30 leagues around the world according to the amount of defensive work performed.

The latter was measured using an index* taking into account two variables: the distance covered at high speed (>25 km/h) in the defensive phase (SkillCorner data) and the number of pressures exerted on opponents without physical or ball contact (Wyscout data).

The highest score overall was recorded for the South Korean striker Heung-Min Son, with a particularly strong value in terms of distance covered at high speed out of possession.

At Europe’s big-5 league level, Son is ahead of another Tottenham player, the Brazilian Richarlison, which reflects the strong commitment in the defensive phase that Spurs’ coach Ange Postecoglou demands from strikers, and perhaps explains the recent dip in performance.

Germany’s Johannes Eggestein of second-ranked Zweite Bundesliga’s St. Pauli tops the list in the second divisions of big-5 league countries, Costa Rican Manfred Ugalde (Twente, transferred to Spartak Moscow in January) in the non-big-5 European leagues, with the highest value overall in terms of pressures exerted on opponents, as well as Mexico’s Ricardo Marín (Chivas Guadalajara) in the non-European leagues analysed.

*The index was calculated on a 100 basis from the average of the values recorded for the two variables taken into account, themselves projected on a 100 basis.

Only footballers who played at least 1,200 domestic league minutes during the current season were included in the rankings.

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About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group created in 2005 within the Swiss-based Centre International d’Étude du Sport (CIES). It specialises in the statistical analysis of football, in particular in the areas of demographics, transfer values and performance (technical, tactical, physical).

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About the CIES

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel. 

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CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport

Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
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Phone +41 32 718 39 00
Fax +41 32 718 39 01


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