Wyscout as a research tool
by Daniele Manusia

It is a generally accepted opinion that this is the age of football on YouTube. A new footballer arrives on a team and the fans go to YouTube to look for skills&goals videos. This is normal. But it is also widely agreed that in order to understand a football player, the moments that are not in most of those videos are essential: when he runs without the ball, when he makes a standard pass, when his team – the entire team – defends or attacks and he does his part in the shadows. Of course, there are also some very well made videos, but as a journalist, you need to know how to edit a video on your own that describes the qualities and defects of a player. And it does not matter much whether the editing is only done in your head and in your notes: the essential thing is to disassemble and reassemble the video of a certain player, following your instinct.

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YouTube offers a passive experience. Wyscout requires active research. It forces choosing and selecting. A research effort is fundamental in order to have an original or personal point of view on a player. A few days ago, I worked on an article about Juventus and after a few hours of video, I realised that I had noted down a lot of Higuain’s plays which happened in midfield. Some plays were very “normal”: link-up play, quick passes, side changes. Others were more complex: killer passes, nice defences of the ball while surrounded by a lot of opposing players. In any case, they were all plays that would not have been likely to end up on YouTube. Maybe one day I’ll write about how Higuain helps Juventus plays in areas of the pitch that are far from the goal. But the point is that Wyscout motivates you to do personal research, whereas on YouTube, you end up simply being a spectator. Wyscout is a tool, but it is also a daily exercise that you need so that you won’t become passive in the face of the ever increasing number of available football hours.

The usefulness of reports
by Flavio Fusi

When it comes to analysing a match, Wyscout reports are a useful ally. The pre-match reports give you a general idea of a team’s playing strategy. For example, you can try to figure out if you are looking at a formation that tends to dominate ball possession and the preferred passing style, but you can also go further into detail, investigating whether the keeper is involved at the start of the play or if there are zones of the pitch from which they prefer to attack. In addition to construction, you can analyse the offensive phase of a team from a numerical point of view, identifying what type of chances they tend to create, how often they cross, how often they use long balls or even how many times they managed to access the opposing half. You can also compare overall data with the home and away match information to see if the coach prefers to adapt his play strategy depending on whether or not the team is on home soil.

The post-match report is even more important and it represents an essential source of information in the analysis phase to confirm what the human eye has observed. In addition to the information on formations and average positions, you can examine the entire play strategy in detail, including offensive plays and the team’s defensive phase, but you can also do the same for each player and this lets you establish the impact that the individuals have on the game, “zooming in” on a wide variety of individual statistics: from the simplest ones like ball touches to more detailed ones like through-balls or passes in the penalty area, but also ball recovery in the opposing team’s midfield. The graphics included in the reports, on the other hand, let you see all the duels and the passing networks immediately, showing the “fluxes” of play of both teams.

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An example of how Wyscout graphics can highlight certain tactical-strategic aspects of a match, taken from Napoli‘s recent win over Lazio. The passing network highlights the importance of Mario Rui in the game of Sarri’s team: no less than 125 ball touches and 102 accurate passes in the 4-1 victory over the biancocelesti.

How to get to know a footballer from scratch with Wyscout
by Emanuele Atturo

Getting to know a player through Wyscout is so simple, that the first mistake you shouldn’t make is getting lazy because of how thorough the tool is. The possibility of seeing the dissected plays of a footballer creates the temptation of a shortcut that you are better off not taking.

To get to know a footballer from scratch, it is indispensable to see several full matches so that you can see all of his moves, with and without the ball, but also how he reacts to the various phases of the game. The general impact he is able to have on his team and on the match. I usually choose a match where I know the player did very well and another couple in a context of high technical and tactical level.

After which, you can take a “funnel” approach, using the video cutting feature. A second step could be watching the events in which a player is tagged during a complete match. At that point, you have a rather complete idea and you can watch specific plays in order to refine technical comprehension based on the player’s position.

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For a defender, it will be interesting to watch the man-to-man duels, aerial duels and passes; for a centre forward, the player’s movements when not in possession of the ball and shots; for a creative midfielder, killer pass or dribbling. If watching entire matches helps to get an idea of a player’s shortcomings, the dissected videos return a more precise definition of the player’s strong points. For example, when Milik arrived on the Napoli team – a team that loves dribbling that involves all the players – it was very helpful to watch his quick pass play through the “Dialogue with the midfielder” category.

At the end of the process, we will have become familiar with him, with his quirks and his favourite plays – in short, with his uniqueness.

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READ our interview with Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.