Analysing Phases of Play in the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup

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The FIFA world cup is the ultimate accolade in football. Understanding the mechanisms underlying success, In football, is critical for coaches, players, managers, and other stakeholders. Lepschy et al. (2021) suggests that exploring ball possession in more detail would benefit the preparation of national football teams and Almeida (2019) places importance on analysing forthcoming world cup competitions, to search for success factors.

Differentiate between eliminated and qualified teams in FIFA world cup football, across two consecutive tournaments. Secondary analysis will explore whether there is a relationship between the two tournaments, for variables associated with each Phase of Play (PoP).

Match performance data (n = 98) was categorised into a PoP, such as creating and finishing possession, defending, goalkeeping, transition and set pieces. The collected data was collected from, with the data provided by OPTA. Only the games of the first stage (group stage) were used, to differentiate between 16 eliminated and 16 qualified teams (48 games). Data was analysed using a one-way between-groups multivariate analysis of variance, for each PoP, to differentiate between eliminated and qualified teams.

Findings for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, suggest there are statistically significant differences between eliminated and qualified teams on the combined dependent variables for creating and finishing F (22, 73) = 1.79, p = .034, Wilks’ Lambda = 0.65, partial eta squared = .35; possession F (29, 66) = 1.74, p = .032, Wilks’ Lambda = 0.57, partial eta squared = .43 and goalkeepers F (10, 85) = 3.02, p = .003, Wilks’ Lambda = 0.74, partial eta squared = .26. Each significant PoP was analysed further with 61% (n = 14) of the creating and finishing variables exhibiting significant differences, possession exhibiting significant differences in 62% (n = 18) of variables and the goalkeeper phase exhibiting significant differences in 40% (n = 4) of variables within this category. Within the 2022 FIFA World Cup, there are statistically significant differences between eliminated and qualified teams on the combined dependent variables for goalkeepers F (7, 88) = 2.3, p = .034, Wilks’ Lambda = 0.85, partial eta squared = .15.

By exploring PoP differences and relationships between consecutive tournaments, improvements can be made in creating or amending a national team’s philosophy. Findings suggest, focus should be placed on possession, creating and finishing and goalkeeping phases, when preparing for forthcoming performances.

Almeida, C H (2019). Comparison of successful offensive sequences in the group stage of 2018 FIFA World Cup: eliminated vs. qualified teams. Science and Medicine in Football, 3(3), 238-244.

Lepschy H, Woll A. & Wäsche H (2021). Success factors in the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia and FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 638690.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023
EventWorld Congress on Science and Football - Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 24 May 2023 → …


ConferenceWorld Congress on Science and Football
Abbreviated titleWCSF
Period24/05/23 → …
Internet address


  • Analysis
  • Coaching
  • Performance
  • Football


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