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The Tracker: Ball-watching analysis from the re-start to August 8

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Roar Rookie
17th August, 2020

An admirable 20 matches were played in this short period of twenty days. The break in the season and then the staggered re-start for some teams meant an unconventional draw.

Teams played varying amounts of games. It was impossible to draw comparisons about failures to track by individuals, or patterns of this error by teams. Below is an analysis of the 59 goals scored during this period. Ball watching accounted for 32 per cent of goals, focused defence 56 per cent, and penalties just 12 per cent.

Focused defence and admirable tracking to try to prevent goals was shown by Newcastle’s Matthew Millar when Anthony Caceres scored for Sydney, and by Leigh Broxham of Melbourne Victory on Scott McDonald’s header for Brisbane Roar.

Jonathan Aspropotamitis for Western United also showed excellent thinking and tracking skills when Tass Mourdoukoutas scored with an unexpected but exquisite back heel for Western Sydney Wanderers. After that match Western United coach Mark Rudan was not referring to Aspropotamitis when he called out his defenders for not staying with attacking players that they had picked up.

Rudan had wanted his team to set up man-for-man in the box and not mark zones. It was disappointing to Rudan that his players did not follow the plan that had been determined before the match.

Disappointment for the same reason was also expressed by Ufuk Talay when his team Wellington Phoenix allowed the only goal of the game to Besart Berisha of Western United in the first game of the season. Talay said then that it was disappointing to concede the goal because two players were marking space and that you can’t do that in the box as you need to pick up players.

The comments of the two coaches, made ten months apart, show that ball watching is guarded against, and that tight marking is planned for penalty box situations. However, players still struggle to follow these plans, although perhaps not quite to the same extent as earlier in the season.

Before the break in the season, this analysis showed ball watching was implicated in 42 per cent of all the goals scored. Players deserve credit with improvement in this aspect of defending because in this group of twenty matches since the resumption, that figure has reduced to 32 per cent.

Will there be even greater improvement in the coming weeks?

Goals Conceded Defending Team Goalscorer
Ball watching (19 goals)
Harry van den Saag Sydney FC Nick Fitzgerald
Liam McGing Wellington Phoenix Kristian Fardal Opseth
James Donachie Melbourne Victory Tomislav Uskok
Leigh Broxham Melbourne Victory Max Burgess
Jordan O’Doherty Western Sydney Wanderers Milan Juric
Tommy Oar Central Coast Mariners Simon Cox
Aaron Anderson Melbourne Victory Matthew Ridenton
Un-named Perth Glory Michael Jacobsen
Ben Halloran Adelaide United Kristian Popovic
Matti Steinmann Wellington Phoenix Kwame Yeboah
Daniel Georgievski Western Sydney Wanderers Ivan Franjic
Tass Mourdoukoutas Western Sydney Wanderers James Meredith
Tom Aldred Brisbane Roar Gary Hooper
Jordan Elsey Adelaide United Adam le Fondre
Daniel Georgievski Western Sydney Wanderers Josh Risdon
Patrick Ziegler Western Sydney Wanderers Besart Berisha
Aaron Calver Western United Mitch Duke
Tomislav Uskok Western United Mitch Duke
Keanu Baccus Western Sydney Wanderers Alesandro Diamanti
Focused defence (33 goals)
Adelaide United – 2
Brisbane Roar – 1
Central Coast Mariners – 3
Melbourne Victory – 4
Newcastle Jets – 1
Perth Glory – 9
Sydney FC – 4
Wellington Phoenix – 4
Western Sydney Wanderers – 2
Western United – 3
Penalties (7 goals)
Adelaide United – 1
Brisbane Roar – 1
Perth Glory – 2
Sydney FC – 1
Wellington Phoenix – 1
Western Sydney Wanderers – 1