Who are The Prominent Players in the UEFA Champions League? An Approach Based on Network Analysis

Filipe Manuel CLEMENTE, Fernando Manuel Lourenço MARTINS


This study aimed to analyze the centrality levels of elite football players. Tactical positions and tactical line-ups were considered factors to be used in analyzing the variance in the prominence of players, measured by social network measures. The best 16 teams from the UEFA Champions league were analyzed during the entire competition. A total of 109 matches were analyzed for this study. Significant statistical differences between positions were found in % indegree (p = 0.001; ES = 0.268, moderate effect), % outdegree (p = 0.001; ES = 0.301, moderate effect) and % betweenness (p = 0.001; ES = 0.114, minimum effect). No statistical differences between tactical line-ups in % outdegree (p = 1.000; ES = 0.001, no effect) or % indegree (p = 1.000; ES = 0.001, no effect) were found. Central midfielders had the greatest values of centrality, thus confirming their importance in the linkage process of the team. Position had great influence on the centrality levels of players.


Applied mathematics, graph theory, soccer, football, match analysis

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