Sevilla FC: The sporting advantage of data




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Seville Football Club is one of three LaLiga clubs (FC Barcelona & Atletico de Madrid) that are using data and analytics to define on and off field activities.



Data has become a central part of modern football that impacts both on-field performance and wider commercial success. Clubs across the industry are dedicating resources to studying and developing expertise in the field, while it has also formed a central part of LaLiga’s growth strategy over recent years.



Sevilla FC, along with Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona, joined LaLiga at the recent Football Data International Forum 2020, organised by ENIIT Business School at Atlético de Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium, to outline their recent successes.



Speaking at the forum, Sevilla FC’s Sporting Director Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, commonly known as Monchi, identified three fields where data is currently giving the Andalusian club an edge: scouting, establishing transfer market values and injury prevention.



Scouting using data

For club scouts, data can help filter players in order to highlight those who best meet the needs of the club. Monchi outlined an example of searching for a centre-back, explaining that the tools used can make it possible for a club to focus time and resources on scouting 30 or so centre-backs who meet certain parameters, removing the need to look through databases of over 500 names. The more data that is applied, the more precise the club can be in setting these variables.



“In the end, there are personal and subjective decisions,” Monchi noted, “but it’s easier to make fewer mistakes if you have more objective than subjective arguments.”



Establishing transfer market value

Data is proving similarly useful when it comes to working out a transfer fee with another club, whether for the purchase or sale of a player. Instead of gut feeling, there is now firm analysis going into such decisions.



“When a club buys a player for €30m, you may think it’s a good price because of intuition and the experience you have from working in the market,” Monchi explained. “But without objective data, it is just opinion.”



He noted that the approach has now evolved because of data, adding: “What we’re trying to do is to find objective support from data, based on the history of our purchases and sales and based on the history of the other team’s purchases and sales,” he stated. “In this way the approach is quite similar to investing in the stock market.”



Reducing risk of injury

Monchi also outlined possibility of using data to reduce the risk of injuries which pose a huge threat to clubs in sporting and economic terms. In particular, Sevilla FC is working with data to try to work out why certain injuries happen, checking for patterns to see if certain injuries were repeated in players wearing a certain type of footwear or in players working on similarly watered or un-watered pitches.



“Rather than working on a player recovering from injury, its better if the player doesn’t get injured in the first place,” Monchi noted. “We work on injury prevention and use everything we can to reach conclusions that can help with this.”



Conclusion

Whether using tools developed in-house, provided by partners or offered to clubs from LaLiga, data has become a fundamental part of Spanish football and is an undeniable part of the industry’s future. As Monchi noted: “In sport, and in football in particular, there is no stopping digitalisation.”

Credit: talksport
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